The story is told by a young 'unknown soldier' in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see all the realities of war: under fire, on patrol, waiting in the trenches, at home on leave, and in hospitals and dressing stations. Although there are vividly described incidents which remain in the mind, there is no sense of adventure here, only the feeling of youth betrayed and a deceptively simple indictment of war - of any war - told for a whole generation of victims.
©1929 The estate of the late Paulette Remarque (P)2010 Hachette Digital
I am a retired business man who wanted to be a History teacher.at the age of 81 Im catching up on my favourite historical characters & event
Hard to believe this brilliant literary work is written about events a century ago or so.Anyone who is thrilled by the thought of war,the glorification of war and wants to go to war,should read/listen to this beautifully narrated story.I watched the Hollywood movie on TV many years ago which was also impressive.All school children should read this book.To Tom Lawrence and the producers congratulations on such a superb presentation.
Would highly recommend. I can see why this is considered a classic.
Don't miss it.
Was a bit concerned at the start with the English accent but wasn't an issue 5 minutes in.
I like good books, I will follow a good author and i listen to friends recommendations. Love audio books and am fascinated and learning.
A book for every generation to read each decade... powerful prose..intense reflection..unflinching honesty..gut wrenching and life altering
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front is beautiful, moving, and appalling, setting forth so clearly and cogently so many awful truths about war, patriotism, youth, maturity, human nature, love, and life. It is as apt today as it was when it was written, and despite being set in the First World War applies to any war fought before or after.
Remarque's purpose: "To give an account of a generation destroyed by the war." If not directly maiming and killing young soldiers, war--no adventure--severs their psychological connections to life, turning them into kill or be killed animals and abandoned children who are also old men. The real enemy is not the French (or any country) but death and war itself, as well, perhaps, as the "morally bankrupt" authority figures (politicians, teachers, preachers, parents, and newspapers) who should know better but who mismanage everything so as to let war happen and then brainwash or browbeat innocent young men full of life into entering the war. The truth of war, Paul says, is found in military hospitals, in which are found examples of every possible way to harm a human body, and which render pointless all human thoughts, words, and deeds.
The novel begins in medias res with the first person narrator Paul Baumer telling in present tense how he and his young-old veteran friends in Company B are ecstatic because their company of 150 men was just unexpectedly attacked and lost 70 men, so that the food and tobacco that had been ordered for 150 will now go to only 80, so they will finally get enough to eat. "Because of that, everything is new and full of life, the red poppies, the good food, the cigarettes, the summer breeze." They then visit one of their friends who is dying from an infected wound. "It's still him, but it isn't really him anymore. His image has faded, become blurred, like a photographic plate that has had too many copies made from it. Even his voice sounds like ashes." Another friend really wants to get the dying guy's boots, and this is perfectly natural. In the second chapter Paul flashbacks to how the boys were persuaded to volunteer by their schoolmaster (a man they now scorn), and how they were bullied through basic training by a sadistic drill corporal till they'd become hard and suspicious.
Through Paul, Remarque vividly depicts trench warfare: latrines, rations, and cigarettes; hunger and thirst; "corpse rats" and lice; dysentery, influenza, and typhus; barbed wire, trenches, dugouts, and craters; revolvers, rifles, machine guns, tracer bullets, bayonets, trench spades, flame throwers, trench mortars, rockets, shells, daisy cutters, shrapnel, hand grenades, and gas; observation balloons, airplanes, trucks, trains, and tanks; continuous fire, defensive fire, and curtain fire; attacks and counter-attacks back and forth across the lunar no-man's land; shattered bones, fragments of flesh, decapitations, disembowelings, torn off faces, blown off limbs, bodies blown out of uniforms and into trees, blue-faced gas corpses, and hissing and belching corpses. All of that becomes more and more hellish as the war drags on and the German supplies and troops dwindle.
Paul has a poet's mind for metaphor. Sitting in their dugout in the trenches is like "Sitting in our own grave waiting to be buried," or "as if we were sitting inside a massive echoing metal boiler that is being pounded on every side." Paul and his friends watch fountains of mud and iron rising up all around them, and mist rising up from the shell holes "like ghostly secrets." He says, "No man's land is outside us and inside us." And "Our hands are earth, our bodies mud, and our eyes puddles of rain." Paul's memories from before the war are dangerous, because to dwell in their lost quietness would render him unable to deal with the reality of the present moment at the front. "We are dead. Our memories come to haunt us. We have been consumed by the fires of reality." Here and there he utters brief lyrical and poignant descriptions: "The wind plays with our hair, and with our words and our thoughts." And "Days are like angels in blue and gold, untouchable."
The only good thing about the war (and it's a very sad good thing) is the bonding it forges between Paul and his friends, comrades in arms. At one point Paul and his mentor Kat are eating a goose they've organized, and Paul feels that "We are brothers… two tiny sparks of life; outside there is just the night, and all around us, death." When he gets two weeks of leave, he is painfully uncomfortable at home, feeling no point of contact with his pre-war self or with his family members or former teachers, etc., because they have not the remotest conception of the front. When he returns to his friends at the front he thinks a devastating truth: "This is where I belong."
This is Brian Murdoch's 1994 translation, not A. W. Wheen's 1929 one. Here is a brief comparison:
Murdoch: "The front is a cage, and you have to wait nervously in it for whatever will happen to you."
Wheen: "The front is a cage in which we must await fearfully whatever may happen."
Tom Lawrence reads Murdoch's translation so well--his youthful, British voice, perfect clarity and pacing, and sensitive and sad manner all so appealing--that I found it fine.
People who are fascinated by vivid accounts of the horror of war, or who are interested in World War I as seen from the German point of view, or who like well-written, beautiful, awful, and sad books should read All Quiet on the Western Front.
"Right Down to the Dirt under the Fingernails"
the very best
at no point did we suffer the glory, the pomp, or the hollywood endings
the very end ... I had set myself up for disappointment or a lack of closure, but found it as a reader, which is necessary with such moving and disturbing subject matter
this book is shock and awe in the face for the glory hunters, the fantasists and the myth-makers ... a breath-taking truth cutter ... why was this not on my school curriculum?
"Powerful and Moving Book, very well read."
A book that demonstrates the effects of war on a person from the view of a world war one soldier. It reveals war in its terror and shows how people learn to live with it as best they can. The futility of WW1 is explored and it has many parts that leave you with the aching sorrow of loss. Not the most light hearted of books but one that should not be missed.
"Sympathetically told story of the horrors of WW1"
A young man goes to war full of idealism and love for his country.
He tells the story of his horrible experiences without any gung-ho or glamorisation as he slowly loses his regimental mates to the war.
This is a classic and I have "read" it now for the first time although it should be required reading for all.
As a follow-up, look up the author's name in an online encyclopaedia and see just what the Nazis thought of him!
"A view from the other side"
The voice of the young man reading this fitted the character perfectly
It would be hard to say what one liked in a book basically about the horrors of war but what did come through was the strong feeling of comradeship among the young soldiers.
The most likeable scene was the feast with duck on the menu,a temporary escape from the sheer hell of the trenches.The scenes set in a Catholic hospital although horrifying in parts were also fascinating.Towards the end of the novel the death of Pauls friend was intensely moving.
I prefer to take my time & savour a good novel & this was a great novel.
This should be on the curriculum of every school to teach the young the horror & futility of war.
"Powerful antiwar novel."
Gosh for such a small book/ 7 hours of Audio, this book packs a powerful punch to your guts and heart. Again one of those books I was told to read at school and I just did not want to. In hindsight I probably would not of understood it. The author takes you through his life as not more than a boy soldier enlisting, to the front lines of WW1, and the physical and mental scars it leaves.
"Well Written war time story"
Very lifelike and transports you back in time and the emotion runs very high and charged.
Very much so as my son is studying the world wars of this period and Flaunders fields (John Mcrae) ties in to the poetry in English as well as the History and Geography in this subject that he is studying.
Yes by writing in a very gruelling manner and genuine manner. War is shown as it should be not through rose coloured tinted glasses. The language also used shows the fear of the soldiers and the trenchlife became an existence.
No in chapters per night
A very powerful book in the affairs of a private in war
"The most moving World War 1 description"
I haven't actually read the book, but the audio version is sombre, moving and quite brilliant.
The fact it is taken from the point of view of a German soldier.
No, but I'm going to look out for him. His narration was excellent.
Every person should read or listen to this book. It puts the futility of war into perspective.
"Great book,excellently read."
Gripping depiction of the soldiers life in and out of the trenches of ww1. Given weight by the fact that the writer had experienced it all himself. It's aged well and I didn't find it clichéd despite all the similar stories we've maybe heard and seen since. The reader was excellent and well chosen as his youthful voice suited the soldiers age
"An insight to war with strong characters"
Struggling to cope with return home after the unreal coping with appalling surreal life on the front.
"Spare, horrific, compelling"
I read the book at school, like so many people, and did not get anywhere near as much from it as the audiobook. Certainly this is a book that warrants re-reading when one is older, but I do think Tom Lawrence became Paul in my mind, which did add to the experience.
The postscript is devastating. There are fascinating and compelling scenes throughout (the sense of dislocation Paul feels when he goes home on leave prefigures the fate of the returning soldiers who survive the war, the Catholic hospital's combination of utter horror and a strange sense of safety), but the postscript brings both tragedy and closure.
Tom Lawrence's reading is great, but his accents don't work and are at odds with his English reading of Paul. Better if the other characters had been similarly accent less.
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