Book Review: All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

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Release: 29 January 1929

It has been awhile since the last post. The reading has continued but the reviews have slowed. There has simply been too much to accomplish with leaving Japan, traveling to Australia and heading back to the USA. Traveling with friends and family around the southwest hasn’t helped much either. So, I’m going to take a jump back to the beginning of April when I finished All Quiet On The Western Front. It is a short novel, heralded as a must read to understand the first hand perspective of World War I. It is widely considered a classic and being written by a German author it perfectly fits my year’s goal of reading a variety of books all from different countries. It seems in literature and film there is so much focusing on World War II, but accounts from World War I are lacking. This makes Remarque’s novel a refreshing take. Overall it is a fantastic and relatable read only made better by its simplicity.

The first thing I noticed was how relatable the characters were. They seemed incredibly real; their behavior and interactions reminded me of my own friends when we were younger. When you think about it, they were just kids. This strikes home when the protagonist Paul makes his way home on leave and sees his childhood home. He has been thrust into adulthood by war, a much darker adulthood than most. He regrets his decision to return home as it will only make it harder for him to return to war. It must be a difficult reality that soldiers face, a divide between desire to see their family and the difficulty of re-entering that grim environment. It is clear how the war has shaped the characters lives, something that still happens to this day. Remarque states at the start of the book “This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.” This short forward fully encapsulates the books theme and importance. It highlights what is often wrong about some wartime cinema and literature; it is a horrible history and not something to be sought or idolized. Secondly, it highlights that the transition back is not easy, and many of the people who make it home alive, never really survive the war.

I don’t have much more to say about this somber and memorable novel. It is a must read, for all people. It gives a sad and personal account of the horrors of war. It isn’f floral or elaborate, but rather to the point. There is no glamour, only history, only death, and only an experience that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I would give it five out of five stars.

35 Novels from 35 Countries

  1. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (England)
  2. We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen (Denmark)
  3. The River Between by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (Kenya)
  4. The Stranger by Albert Camus (France)
  5. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño (Chile)
  6. Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia)
  7. The Heart Of Redness by Zakes Mda (South Africa)
  8. The Woman In The Dunes by Kobo Abe (Japan)
  9. The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Russia)
  10. All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (Germany)
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