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Spark of Life: A Novel Paperback – April 1, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first rank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure.”—The New York Times Book Review

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1st Ballantine Books ed edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449912515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449912515
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Cody Carlson VINE VOICE on August 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
In 'Spark of Life' Remarque proves once again that he is one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. A combination of literary skill, gripping story, and truly real characters put this novel on par with his most famous work, 'All Quiet on the Western Front.' 'Spark' deals with the final months of World War Two in a German concentration camp. 509, one of the longest held prisoners in the camp, is convinced that despite what the SS tell them the war will soon be over and the camp liberated. 509's fellow inmates, old and young, Jews and politicals, all draw strength from 509 and his will to not just survive, but to somehow stay human in a world where savagery is king. While the prisoners themselves hold to this hope tightly, the SS have their own worries. The camp commamdant's holdings throughout the small town are going up in flames as the British and Americans continually bomb the area and the guards are left with a choice: Run from the camp and risk treason against the Fuhrer, or exterminate all the surviving prisoners in one final orgy of blood. Once again Remarque has created a world so real, so certain, it both moves and educates the reader. All the horror, death, fear, and ultimatly the triumph of the human spirit that existed in these dark times are brought to life by a master story-teller.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is great. Erich Maria Remarque almost (and I repeat, "almost") outdoes All Quiet on the Western Front. 509, Lebenthal, Bucher, Weber, Neubauer, Karel, Ahasver, and "the sheep dog" are very engrossing characters, and I felt as though they were actually real people as I read it. The plot is great, and I could easily picture the setting in my mind. I was definately satisfied at the results between the conflict with 509 and Weber. The translation is a little rough at times, and the terms "revolver" and "tommy gun" were used throughout the story in a meagerly generic way. Overall, great book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
A no holds barred tale about life in a concentration camp during the end of World War II. The primary focus of the story is about prisoner 509 who has survived over 5 years in the camp and his realization that the war is finally coming to an end.
However, Remarque, does take short diversions to other characters -- including SS leaders and other prisoners. This was interesting and showed the thought processes by all involved. Thought provoking, powerful, as well as scary.
My only gripe about the book was that there seemed to be a ton of characters. Sometimes it was hard to keep track of them all. However, I focused on the main ones and managed well enough.
Recommended to Remarque fans and those with an interest in the history of period. Also, a touching and powerful look at the atrocities that occurred in a concentration camp.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
As 509 is a German political prisoner, and not a Jew or Pole, this book offers a somewhat different perspective on the Nazi concentration camps than is usually found in novels. This is a powerful book, though it has Remarque's usual dark tone and 'unhappy' ending. I highly reccommend it as a complement to other fiction about this era.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maximiliano F Yofre on May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Erich Maria Remarque (1898 - 1970) was projected to popularity by his novel "All Quiet in the Western Front" (1929). He was a militant pacifist with no strong political views. Nevertheless the Nazis burned his books and he was forced into exile. He was stripped from German nationality in 1938 and never was returned to him. This was a deep wound in his soul that never healed.

"Spark of Life" (1952) is not one of his most famous books, but is a deep heartbreaking tale of the life in a concentration camp.
509 is an old prisoner that miraculously survives year after year of daily horror. He feels war is ending and redouble his efforts to stay alive. His deeds and those of his campmates, Lebenthal and Ashver and Neubauer are described vividly by Remarque.
This is a dark and sorrowful literary piece; however is a monument to the "spark of life" that every human being treasures in his inner soul. Is a monolith to the "spark" of freedom that authoritarian regimes, of any sign, try always to quench and never succeed to achieve.

A recommended read for those interested in historical subject and more specifically in WWII and concentration camps.
Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By danielx on January 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
"The Spark of Life" is a gripping tale of fear, horror and death by a masterful writer, but it is also a tale of the indomitable human spirit. The story Remarque tells is all the more terrible for being based in reality, a recounting of historical events as they played out at the end of World War Two for the inmates of a German concentration camps. I read this book in high school, and found it hard to take; in fact it stayed with me for years. That's of course to the author's credit. This is a book that deserves to be read, as long as the reader knows what s/he is getting into.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
Powerful. Spring 1945, Germany refuses to accept the inevitable defeat. This is the story of a concentration camp during the last months of war. One of the important themes of the novel is that as the allies converged on the concentraion camps the situation for the prisoners became more desperate. A high percentage of deaths occured during these last weeks as Germans ran out of supplies, tried to erase evidence and forced prisoners to walk to different locations farther inside of Germany.
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