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

Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front is a powerful novel about the disillusionment brought on by World War I. Before the Great War, many countries in Europe had been extending their powers and establishing empires and strong trade developments. Many in these countries saw these strengths as signs of their nations' greatness. Also before World War I, there had never been a war that used so much fire power in the form of grenades, mortar shells, machine guns, etc. Wars were also seen as a moral activity and the winning country often attributed its success to its own virtue. World War I changed all of these opinions and Remarque (who fought in WWI himself) does an excellent job of portraying the horrors of war and the awakening experienced by so many of the young men who fought on the front.

Before the novel opens, there is a short explanation which states:

"This book is 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 shells, were destroyed by the war."(dedication page)
The book's point of view is that of a German foot soldier who spends much of his time fighting on the front. While other nationalities are mentioned and questioned, Remarque at no time says anything that would offend a reader's personal loyalties. He simply states what every soldier from each side of the war must have felt as they faced each other in such inhuman circumstances.

The main thing I appreciated in this book was Remarque's ability to instill in the reader the grotesque images and events that men face in a war. Remarque was able to do this without painting complicated and graphic pictures. The few words he did use sufficed to give the reader enough information to fill in the blanks and see for himself the terrors that Remarque was describing.
Remarque is also able to avoid the obscene language that inevitably flows through a soldier's vocabulary. He does not try to cover the fact that such words were spoken, he merely leaves the language out and tells the reader that such an answer or statement was given.

As well as giving a report on life on the front line, this book...

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Category:   All Quiet on the Western Front

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