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Book Cover
Synopsis

Hailed the Greatest War Novel of All Time

Written by Erich Maria Remarque in 1928, All Quiet on the Western Front is the testament of nineteen year-old Paul Baumer, who enlisted with the German army during World War I alongside his classmates. The novel begins with Paul and his fellow soldiers at the frontlines of the western front and follows the trials that Paul endures in what was known as the ‘Last Great War’ by many at the time. The novel graphically depicts the horrors that Paul observes and how the war systematically destroys the humanity of Paul and his comrades in arms. As the plot progresses and the war continues, Paul finds himself unable to relate with his family and ultimately unable to envision a future without war. When at long last the whispers of an armistice and the end of the war begin to make its rounds through the army, the Paul reflects on how different he would be from those who have not gone through what he has: so devoid of hope and bereft of the bright future he once had. Remarque conveys all of these existentialist musings beautifully in this novel which will be forever hailed as the greatest war novel of all time.

Book Review

Opens the Reader’s Eyes to a Side of War That Many Have Not Imagined

From the first passage to the abrupt end of the novel, All Quiet on the Western Front conveys the experiences of Paul Baumer in a manner that a reader of any level can follow. The simple and emotive language that Remarque uses to describe the horrific scenes witnessed by Paul only serves to amplify the effects of his vivid descriptions and the downward spiral Paul’s humanity. The blunt delivery of the text oftentimes reflects how the hardened youth views the madness around him: with a practiced indifference brought about the many deaths of his friends.

As Remarque had been a soldier during World War I in the German army himself, All Quiet on the Western Front became his outlet for many of his criticisms against war, most noticeably through the schoolmaster Kantorek. Kantorek was the one who fed Paul and his classmates war propaganda, calling them the ‘Iron Youth’ and telling them that they were the agents of change. The schoolmaster ended up being the only one out of Paul’s class who didn’t suffer (from Paul’s perspective) the horrors that the students faced. This irony is not lost on Paul and his classmates and is brought forth repeatedly throughout the novel.

I would personally recommend anyone to read this book. While watching war movies such as Saving Private Ryan or Black Hawk Down might depict what war looks like, this novel depicts what a war feels like. The deterioration of Paul’s humanity brings forth various emotions from the reader and I couldn’t help but connect to the character on some level. This is result of Remarque’s remarkable (no pun intended) job of clearly showing the reader Paul’s internal struggle and deterioration. All in all, I found this book to be one that should be read by anyone that can read English. It truly is a work of art and helps people understand how tragic war really is.

Author Biography
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Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque is the pseudonym of Erich Paul Remark. He was born June 22nd, 1989 to a working-class family in Osnabruck, Germany. He was conscripted into the German army at the age of 18. Remarque was transferred to the Western Front on June 12th, 1917 and was taken out of active service due to injuries sustained on the 31st of July.

After the war, Remarque took to writing about his experiences on the frontline and his second novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, made him famous as the first existential war novelist. He died in 1970 a naturalized U.S. Citizen in Locarno, Switzerland.

Links

Remarque's Biography
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