All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
Category: Fiction / Historical
175 pages; ISBN: 0099532816
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Dan Champion
All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of a squad of young German soldiers figthing for their lives in the trenches of France in the 1st World War. Narrated by Paul Baumer, a 19-year-old foot soldier, it portrays the grim reality of the experiences of young men on all sides in this most bloody of conflicts.
The message conveyed in AQotWF is that contained in countless other war novels, that the men who do the fighting on the ground in wartime are merely the pawns in the games of politicians and world leaders, where the combatants fight not for any great purpose or principle but rather simply to survive. However, unlike some it never preaches, the narrative being so convincing that it would come as a surprise to me to discover that Erich Maria Remarque did not himself serve in the war (I do not know if he did).
Be warned, the book does contain some very graphic descriptions of the horrific injuries sustained by soldiers in the trench warfare of the Great War. This might put some readers off the book, but to my mind without them it would be much more difficult to understand Paul`s evident bitterness and helplessness, having seen his friends and comrades fall in battle in such a brutal manner.
It is hard not to recommend this book. I doubt very much if many people will find it entertaining, but it is a moving and significant account of a war the likes of which we should hope never to see again.
Buy All Quiet on the Western Front at amazon.co.uk
Buy All Quiet on the Western Front at amazon.com