It never gets old. Third listen over the years to this story about school boys thrown into the horrors of trench warfare. Frank Muller has the perfect voice and cadence to add to this great story. A must listen.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Though not a long book, All Quiet on the Western Front is the prototype for nearly every modern novel about going to war. Young men with their heads crammed full of patriotism and dreams of glory volunteer for the army. There is a strenuous boot camp with a martinet drill instructor. Then the horror and carnage of battle, which often amounts to hunkering down and hoping not to be hit by shells fired by a far-off enemy, while nearby comrades are randomly cut down by shrapnel, explosive, bullets, and poison gas, sometimes to die hideous, lingering deaths.
The story is told through the eyes of Paul Bäumer, an everyman character whom Remarque never defines in much depth -- though part of this is the conceit that Paul, at 19, sees himself as a person who was unformed before war claimed him. The novel, written in the immediate tense, reads more as a series of fragmentary scenes and impressions than an ordered narrative, which might put off some readers, but I think this adds to its effectiveness. Over the course of the novel, Paul and his companions experience all the usual responses to modern war. There's horror, disillusionment, shell shock, and alienation from the civilian world, with its self-satisfied values and artificial lives. To Paul, the ability to care about the things that his student self once cared about is lost, the only meaning now in small, primal acts of life and in his comrades-in-arms.
The prose is haunted by bleakness and despair, though there are some scenes that are quite beautiful in their melancholy humanity, such as Paul's visit to a camp of Russian POWs, or of his regrets after being trapped in a shell hole for a few hours with a dying enemy soldier, who, now disarmed, is little different from himself. There are a few moments of levity, such a scene where a pompous teacher gets his just desserts, but they're few. For their part, the sequences set in the trenches are rich in images of dull, hellish squalor, such as passing time by killing ever-present corpse-fed rats, or the cries of a wounded man slowly dying somewhere out in No Man's Land. Yes, no surprise that the Nazis banned this one for "defeatism" (and got to relive it all at Stalingrad).
Though the specific causes of World War One are now buried in the dustbin of history, the reader doesn't need to be familiar with them to grasp the essential themes. All Quiet on the Western Front still maintains its timeless message of youth pointlessly squandered by the impenetrable stupidity of politics. When Paul's companions discuss the reasons they've been sent to fight and die, they can only observe that they never had anything against the French, nor the average French soldier against Germany, but, as always, the few people who make and benefit from policy aren't the ones deemed young and physically fit enough to die for it. While no 21st century generation is likely to experience the kind of wholesale meat-grinder warfare that could wipe out thirty thousand lives in one battle, we shouldn't forget the naivete that led to it, or the callousness it inflicted. These are aspects of modernity that have hardly left the world, even a century later.
Audiobook narrator Frank Muller gives a restrained but haunted reading that fits the spirit of the text well.
One of the top ten books I have read.
The protagonist and Kat. They both tried so hard to live through the horror and find ways to channel their emotions
The first time he goes home and he tries to comprehend the dichotomy between the horrors on the front and the challenges of those behind the line. This book came out in 1928 yet war continues and young men and women continue to follow in the same emotional and physical footsteps. It is a sad fact that war continues.
The Horror of War
A very brutal look at the horrors of war through the eyes of a soldier on the front lines in WWI. Utter despair crushes the remnants of hope as Baumer sees his fellow soldiers cut down on the primer of live. One moment he sees one of them go down and he reflects on all the wasted years of becoming so strong in his math skills just to parish this way. He also grapples with wounding a enemy soldier and watching him slowly die since he can't do anything to help the poor guy and reflects the whole time on how indifferent they are from one another. A very powerful read that has earned its honored place as one of the most loved classics on war of all time.
The excellent reading just flows, whereas reading this very sad material would have been hard to go through in print form.
Muller's reading is not overly dramatic.
The protagonist, Paul, is a sensitive, tender boy, turned into a hardened soldier. He also gives us a short glimpse to his life away from the front. The juxtaposition of these two extremes makes the reader feel more intensely the hardships of WW1.
This book along with other like Born of the 4th of July should be required reading before enlisting. The story is memorable. This story is a sad but seemingly true sense of war, loss of life and hardships along the way. This story reminds us that we are all men who are dying. The differences between us and them become blured and the cause or meaning of the war become lost.
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
"All Quiet on the Western Front" is one of those required high school books. I missed the mandate by transferring schools between my freshman and sophomore years, and I ended up repeating freshman English because of logistics in the school district. So, I missed this one - along with Les Misarables and several others.
When it came time for my sophomore to read this one, I couldn't offer any insight. My son tried reading it, and just could not engage. I suggested getting the book on Audible, so he could read along with the audio narration.
It worked, and he did very well with this book. We did the same with Les Miserables, and we're waiting for that.
Since he'd listened to the book, and it was less than 7 hours, I decided to find out why it was required reading.
I am a US Army veteran, and the feeling of place, comradeship, and - bitterly - the sense of futility, were as horrifying for a WWI German veteran as they were for a soldier 50 years later. The weapons, the food, and the place were different - but the feeling was the same.
The narration was definitely worth the listen, for my teenager and for me.
I am a working mom who loves to squeeze in listening to books while walking, doing chores or commuting.
No, this was my first time to "read" this classic. It was a good reminder for me of what the costs of war are. It is too depressing to want to listen to again.
The horror of the trenches was the most gripping.
I am not sure that there is a favorite scene.
The title is very appropriate for this book. Don't want to mess with a classic.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a classic tale made even better by Frank Muller's performance. The pain, the joy, and the misery I felt when reading the book were all brought back by this listen. Time and a credit well spent.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
Frank Muller was a great audiobook reader. But first I should talk about the book.
This is a great book. A first person account by an average soldier with no apparent exaggeration or didacticism. Pretty much every situation you can imagine a soldier would get into is presented but it never feels contrived. In fact, very little of the book involves actual fighting, which only adds to the realism. We have seen this so many times in the years since this book was written. We probably don't even realize how influential this book has been. And if some things in this book feel clichéd, you can probably blame all those imitators that came afterwards.
But what makes the book stand out is the character of its narrator. His feelings about his situation, his feelings about his comrades, his reactions to what happens, his observations about the war, his recounting the opinions of the people he meets. Whatever illusions he may have had about fighting for his country, they are soon replaced by the reality of modern warfare. His loyalty is to his comrades. His main concerns are about things like getting enough to eat keeping his feet dry. These observations build quietly and powerfully through the whole book, and that is what makes it such an effective statement about war and the universality of mankind.
I'll shut up now and let the book speak for itself.
Frank Muller does a terrific job of conveying the tone of the bored soldier struggling to preserve his personhood. I only recently discovered this reader and am sorry to learn that he is no longer with us.