Sunday, January 10

Book Review: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Author: Erich Maria Remarque
Title: All Quiet on the Western Front
Genre: Historical Fiction & Classic
Pages: 296
First Published: 1928
Where I Got It: My shelf (A used bookstore forever ago)

This is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army of World War I. These young men become enthusiastic soldiers, but their world of duty, culture, and progress breaks into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. 

Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the hatred that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another... if only he can come out of the war alive

This has been on my list to read for a long time, but I just never could get myself to read it. Why? It was bound to be super dark and sad. I was right, but it is a book that needs to be read by everyone. War is so glorified and we are convinced its always needed. Politically it might be justified, but it is the young who will suffer for it in the long run. I learned that Hitler had this book banned from German hands when it came out. Of course he would! He wanted a war and reminding the young how horrible war is was not on the agenda. 

What I really adored about this book is that it is told from a German soldier's POV. So many books are told from the American, British, and even French side of the war. Rarely is it told from the "loser's" side of the war. It really shows that every young boy, no matter what country he hails from, has the same fears, hopes, and dreams especially during the First Great War. 

Poor Paul. It was hard to connect with him on a personal level, but I had so much sympathy for him. He was younger then I was.

Once I was finished with this book I had myself one question, "Was this the greatest war novel of all time?" My reply: I have read so many war novels in my time and there are SO many more that I plan to read. Is this truly THE greatest? I'm not sure. Is it the greatest World War One novel? I would say so far it is. 

Now, I only have two issues with this novel. One, I couldn't connect with the main person. I had a moment, though, when he was visiting home and the books he once loved he had no joy for them anymore. Other then that, I felt so distant with him. Two, the ending. I did not like it. It was sad, yes, but I expected it. However, the ending and the epilogue confused me. I had thought one thing happened, but then epilogue was like "haha fooled you! This is the real ending." Wait...what? Oooooo...kay. 

Other then those two things, I really enjoyed this book. It is the best WWI novel that I have read to date. Anyone who can handle a little dark and sad, I suggest this be your next classic novel you read. Just keep in mind that it was written in the 1920s. Out of five stars, I stamp this with 4.