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The Road Back: A Novel Paperback – Jan 27 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Ballantine Books ed edition (Jan. 27 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449912469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449912461
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 13.8 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #276,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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A triumph. The Road Back transcends All Quiet in its political scope and searing indictment of the hypocrisy of powerful old men orchestrating war in the name of Kaiser/King/God and Country. The language changes with the century, but the fact of intergenerational betrayal is as true today for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan as it was for the Fritzes, Tommies and Doughboys of the Great War. Young men are and were expendable and may always be so.

A psychologically astute writer whose interwar years strengthened his conviction that militarization served only politicians and profiteers, Remarque writes of the aftermath of war at a time when psychological wounds were dismissed as malingering or cowardice. Treatments were primitive and often cruel (electro therapy) and the afflicted faced an existence as shut-ins hidden away to shield sensitive civilians from the discomfort of tremor and spasm.

Yet his masterwork, written in 1931, describes a biologically based model of trauma based not on fMRIs but on the incontrovertible truth of his own lived experience.

The resulting novel achieves that rarest of balancing acts. It bears searing witness to the internal devastation borne by those not appearing on causality lists, while instilling hope that there is indeed a road back, if not by a route recognizable by any previous reckoning. And it demands accountability for the powerful interests that brought nations of warring young men together in slaughter.

One of those powerful old men, Rudyard Kipling, inspired a generation with stirring accounts of the glories of soldiering and defence of Empire, He had reportedly pulled strings to allow his son, then 18 but near-sighted, to join the Irish Guards. He died on his first patrol.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent story about a group of young men who try to to put some semblance of normality back into their lives after experiencing the horrors of war. One cannot help feeling sympathetic for these men. Perhaps they were the enemy, perhaps they were on the "other side". But for the most part they were ordinary young men, generally decent and not so different from men in the U.S., Britain or Canada. They went to war with the same ideals of patriotism and duty as allied soldiers, and came back scarred physically and emotionally. As well as feeling disillusioned to find that their sacrifices had been for nothing, the people at home seem to be almost indifferent and have no understanding of what they went through. What they experienced then, seems to be very similar to what soldiers of today are experiencing. Post traumatic stress disorder.
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Format: Paperback
There seems to be a plethora of both novels and non-fiction books now about the ravages of war and its aftermath, describing both the physical and emotional scars, now that the world has gone through World War II, Vietnam, and scores of other wars. However, when Remarque was writing, there was very little literature of this sort. He nailed it early on, when the Allies were still celebrating their triumphs after the War to End All Wars, and no one outside Germany really cared what happened there. In the West, even today, we have been conditioned to think of Germany during the World Wars as an army of emotionless automatons who blindly followed orders and suffered no moral apprehension. This novel, and others by Remarque, show this to be untrue. The Germans died, cried, loved, lost, and suffered, both physically and emotionally, as much as any soldier of any army. This is the fitting sequel to "All Quiet on the Western Front" (Paul Baumer even gets a passing mention as the protagonists remember lost comrades), and while it lacks the grit and guts of Remarque's wartime novel, it shows the sense of loss, grief, and hopelessness felt by many on both sides after the Great War, and other wars as well.
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By A Customer on Jan. 25 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an even better book than Remarque's better-known "All Quiet on the Western Front." The character development is excellent, and many of the scenes are extraordinarily powerful.
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