Sunday, February 01, 2009

All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

What can I say to do justice to this book? The cover blurb calls this "The Greatest War Novel of All Time." It's certainly the best that I've ever read. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the other war stories I've read haven't used All Quiet as part of their research. It's an account of World War I, as seen through the experiences of Paul Bäumer, a young German man serving in France--the "Western front" to the German army. Through his eyes we see the brutality, absurdity, sorrow and community of war. At times Paul reflects on his experiences, noting how they have essentially shredded his former life as a student and may have killed his future. Other times he holds such reflections at bay and, for the sake of his sanity, focuses on the moment and the ongoing task of staying alive. It's a book full of despair and sorrow, yet it also contains moments of love and humor. It is very much a tale that's real, which, I suppose, also makes it more tragic. If only this was a dark fantasy that exists only in the writer's imagination.

Think I'll keep it on my shelf.
LibraryThing link


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