I had just finished Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends when I started this. I thought I might hear a similarly good story from a German perspective but honestly, I was bored. I guess the writing was good and this is a historically significant book, but as far as entertainment value for me, it's average at best. There are a few decent scenes and interesting concepts, but there are many better books. I don’t recommend as entertainment, but would recommend if you're studying this era or the stress of war.
This book should be mandatory reading for Congress before they can vote on a declaration of war. Powerful.
History is a funny thing. The gruesome, harrowing tale told here was less than a century ago, yet it reads almost as if fiction. I felt drawn in by the performance; a classic of a war that has been greatly overshadowed but it's successor.
I don’t deny the horror of the First World War. I don’t deny Remarque’s experiences in that war. But I just can’t accept the conclusions he drew from them:
“How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture-chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is.”
All lies? Really? Four horrific years cancel out everything—everything—that went before? Polyphonic music? Penicillin? The Gothic arch? Roman Law? Shakespeare? Yikes. And if everything that can be written is pointless, is Remarque including his own book in his general rejection?
Ironically, having delved pretty deeply into the horror of the First World War, I couldn’t help remembering incidents even more dreadful or poignant than those in the novel. Historians have an advantage over novelists in that the letters, diaries, reports, memoirs and unit histories they draw from are real. Yes, I know Paul’s experiences are based upon Remarque’s. But (at least for me) the fact that I’m hearing “fiction”—a carefully and consciously constructed story—takes away a good deal of the punch. I had the same problem with The Red Badge of Courage.
This is not to say that AQWF isn’t a good book. Some of the writing is lyrical. Some of the scenes are first-rate comedy, albeit of a deservedly embittered sort. There are few better pictures of the nonchalant camaraderie of veterans than the scene where the company is making dinner in the bombed-out house, dodging bullets as they flip potato pancakes. The brooding presence of sudden, unexpected death that strained nerves in the trenches strains the listener’s nerves as well. And I was pleasantly surprised when Paul and his comrades laid none of the blame for the war at the feet of the Kaiser. Wilhelm truly did not want the war—no more than anyone else did, to tell the truth.
But there is also a soapbox here. Again, I understand why it’s there. Remarque fully earned his right to get up on it and declaim. All I’m saying is that those declamations can impede the smooth working of a piece of fiction. And quite frankly, being “anti-war” has always seemed to me to be as avant-garde as being anti-cancer. Who isn’t anti-war? Most of the world’s greatest soldiers have been.
Faced with a book of almost unbroken hopelessness, Frank Muller’s solemn, shell-shocked delivery is appropriately monochromatic. But he varies things up as much as the author’s intentions allow: an occasional sarcastic edge in his voice gives certain observations their full force, while scenes where good food or soft beds are in the offing are delivered (almost) cheerfully.
I got this one for two reasons: It was on sale and I should have read it years and years ago. Like a duty visit to uncongenial relations, I won’t say I enjoyed myself. But I’m glad I went.
So it was my first audiobook that I've listened to and it was absolutely excellent. The narrator brought the characters to life and I was engrossed into the story by the end of the novel, it is slightly slow to get into but quickly picks up the pace. The book itself tells of the horrors of WWI- of the bodies, the bombs, the struggles of finding food, going back home, and how the war not just destroying a continent but a generation of young men.
Thankfully, I am 19 as of now. The main character enters the army while he was 18 and the book ends when he is 20. So it is a rather interesting experience to listen to the story. I say interesting because I just finished the recording and do not know what the right word to exactly use.
Excellent performance, excellent story, thought provoking!!! I highly recommend!!!
Yes. It is deeply moving! The narration is great, brings the book to life. I was motivated to watch both versions of the movie available on the Internet.
Kat, the resourceful, the wise.
The Bombardment p. 55ff
A deeply moving experience of the truth of war.
Whispercast version highly recommended.
the audio edition was easy to listen to and made the story move
Kat is my favorite character because he's the scrounge that finds food and treats and comforts for his team. As the older man in the unit, he encourages team work and unity.
Muller portrays Paul so well, it's as if he was truly Paul, as if Paul himself was telling me the story.
Paul, I would want to encourage him that he can put the war behind him and have a joyful life.
There are pauses in the reading that are too long, probably needs better editing. These pauses are unnaturally long making me think my player has become disconnected or lost power. The too long pauses distract from the otherwise wonderful narrating.
The writing is good but the story may be a little outdated to younger readers. However there is a clear message the author is trying to convey. War is senseless and you could just as easily be fighting on the other side.