Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Review: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

Paperback cover of All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, originally published in Germany in 1929.

Author Erich Maria Remarque, 1898-1970.
Erich Maria Remarque’s war novel All Quiet on the Western Front has long been hailed as a classic. It’s another book that I’ve long had on my list of “great books I should read,” and this year I finally read it. It’s an excellent book. Remarque’s prose style is simple and direct, which fits the book. There is no romance in this novel, only cold, hard truths about men in warfare. 

All Quiet on the Western Front is narrated by Paul Bäumer, a German soldier who enlisted in 1914 shortly after the beginning of the World War I. Bäumer relates the mundane routines of Army life, and he also explains how he and his classmates were influenced to enlist by a teacher of theirs. 

All Quiet on the Western Front has aged extremely well. It still feels like a fresh and vital book, even though it’s more than 80 years old. Remarque shows us the futility of wars, especially World War I, where many battles were fought over tiny pieces of land that were not of great strategic significance. 

While Remarque’s novel was highly praised and sold very well after its release in 1929, it was banned in Germany when Adolf Hitler took power in 1933. Hitler certainly didn’t want anyone in Germany to read an anti-war novel that might have made people question the efficacy of war. 

With All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque created a powerful novel that still demands our attention.

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