- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 9 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
- Audible.com Release Date: August 5, 2010
- Language: English
- ASIN: B007EHQIT4
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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All Quiet on the Western Front
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In my opinion, the Nazis burned Remarque's books not because he changed his name to a non-German name, but because this book is filled with anti-war sentiment cloaked as it had to be in 1928 when this was first published. To have lived through war in the trenches as Remarque did, qualifies him to speak to the insanity of mass killing that is war.
Let us all read his pages and imbibe the message of the cruelty and senselessness of war. I feel as if I want to go out and obtain a copy of every book Remarque ever published. Let his experience be our teacher; let his message endure. Let every school-kid in the world read and study these pages, so they come to know what war is. Let the decision-makers of the world pore over every passage, and ask themselves whether they will send their children to war. Let Remarque's works guide their decision.
Truly a classic.
Remarque served in the German army during WWI and is able to elicit the type of imagery and feeling only someone as a witness and participant can conjure. The story is narrated by Paul Baumer, an 18 year old German, who enlists along with many of his other school mates. WWI marked a turning point, the advent of modern warfare driven by technological change, couple with armies comprised of general citizens and less of hired or mercenary fighting forces. Paul and his school mates immediately encounter this horror, different from the romanticized battles of yore that they learn about in school. Remarque doesn't choose to place the characters in specific battles, representing the reality of a large portion of the war on the Western Front. These battles were brutality and killing like the world had never seen, the bulk of it trench warfare, with sides progressed marked not by victory or defeat, but yards or feet advanced. Death is everywhere, soldiers fighting in trenches alongside dead bodies of their colleagues and human waste for days, sometimes weeks at a time. All of this is remarkably rendered throughout "AQOTWF" along with Paul's transformation from naive & willing enlistee to disillusioned and devastated participant.
It is not just the physical that Remarque captures so poetically, but the emotional trauma. Some of the most poignant scenes take place off the battlefield. Paul's leave where he returns to his village is my favorite part of the book. We see the demons of a returning soldier, too traumatized to share the reality of the front lines with his family while they realize the different person he's become as a result of war. Essentially, Paul's soul is lost in spite of his physical body being unaffected. They termed it "shellshock" at the time, something we now refer to as PTSD. There are so many gut wrenching scenes of Paul and his friends confronting the reality of war, death and destruction at a point in life when they should be thinking about their future.
If you haven't read "All Quiet on the Western Front", it certainly should merit your attention. Like me, if you've read it as a teen, it is worth revisiting as its impact with greater context and a life lived will make you appreciate this novel even more.