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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece of fiction about the horrors of war
I was torn about whether or not to give this book four or five stars. At the time it was released, it was definitely a five star book. It removed the fog of war from the battlefield and allowed readers to be transported to the horror of war. Remarque was not the first veteran to comment on the horror of war. U.S. Civil War general/hero Sherman said, "I am tired and sick...
Published 19 months ago by A. Volk

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3.0 out of 5 stars The truth about war
The latest book that I have read is "All Quiet on the Western Front".
This is a book telling about a boy name Paul and his whole classmates going into the First World War. Erich Remarque the author of the book had also experienced the painful cruelty of World War I. The story started out with passion, all the students wanted to go to the front line and have some...
Published on Feb. 15 2004 by ben woo


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece of fiction about the horrors of war, July 14 2013
By 
A. Volk (Canada) - See all my reviews
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I was torn about whether or not to give this book four or five stars. At the time it was released, it was definitely a five star book. It removed the fog of war from the battlefield and allowed readers to be transported to the horror of war. Remarque was not the first veteran to comment on the horror of war. U.S. Civil War general/hero Sherman said, "I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell." So Remarque wasn't saying anything new here about war. What he did do that was new was talk about it in depth and include the effects on the men who survived. For even those whom war didn't kill, war destroyed. That's perhaps a little strong, but there's no doubt that war causes deep, deep mental and emotional scars on almost all soldiers who are thrust into the thick of combat.

So why only four stars? Well, I've read a lot of real war memoirs before turning to this fictional WW1 story. And for me, real memoirs hit home harder. If anything, it is sadly the truth that reality is harsher than fiction when one reads the stories of brutal war veterans (brutal war, not brutal veterans). Books like Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front, With the Old Breed, or Japanese Destroyer Captain are all real, non-fiction stories that equal or surpass the horror and impact of All Quiet. So for me personally, it didn't have the impact that it might otherwise have.

Having said that, I have no problems with someone else rating it five stars. It certainly is a profound introduction to the horrors of war. I can understand why it's a classic, and even though I might recommend non-fiction before it, I definitely have no reservations about recommending this work of fiction for anyone who wants to understand war. If anything, it is less exaggerated and horrible than the real accounts. Most importantly, fiction or not, these kinds of books remind us all that while war may sometimes be an absolute necessity (e.g., against Hitler), war is about as close to hell as you can get to on this Earth. That, along with the sacrifices made by veterans for us, is something we should all never forget.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Makes a lasting impression, April 18 2014
This review is from: All Quiet on the Western Front (Mass Market Paperback)
All Quiet on the Western Front chronicles the story of Paul Bäumer and his classmates, a group of twenty-year-olds who volunteered for service in the German army during the First World War.

Most of the novel focuses on their time near the front and the horrific experiences therein—the terror of artillery bombardment, near misses by enemy snipers, and the gruesome wounds beyond the capabilities of 1916 medicine. The most distinctive part of the novel (to my eye, anyway) occurs when Paul momentarily loses his bearings and jumps into an unfamiliar artillery crater during a patrol. In the darkness, he hears another man jump in, and Paul immediately and unflinchingly stabs him in self-defence, without even verifying his allegiance. As the sun rises, Paul is relieved to find the soldier a Frenchman, but is horrified to see that he's still clutching to life, dying a slow, agonizing death.

Other parts of the novel detail Paul's time on leave or in the hospital after moderate injury. Overall these passages highlight the gaping chasm separating life on the front from life at home (though the hospitals are made out to be nearly as bad as the front itself). Similarly, there is also a huge disconnect at the front between downtime (in which the soldiers play cards and trade black humour) and the terror of actual combat. The overarching theme in all of this is the loss of youth to the horrors of war in all their forms, and Paul's loss of hope of ever returning to a normal life.

One detail I appreciated about All Quiet is its historicity—at the beginning, Europe is locked in trench warfare, but by the end, improvements in technology (mainly tanks) have helped to break the stalemate in favour of the Allies. Rumours of a ceasefire start to swirl in the summer of 1918, but Paul has mixed feelings: killing is all he's known for years—how will he adjust if he makes it out of the war alive?

Final remarks: All Quiet has been labelled "the greatest war novel of all time". As in my review of Dune ("science fiction's supreme masterpiece"), I don't think I can make a well-qualified judgement on that ranking, but Remarque's book certainly makes a lasting impression, and I can definitely give it a solid four stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You are there, Dec 30 2013
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Erich Maria Remarque did a great job with his story. Being first person in view gave you the feeling that you were there. To add to this he is a very good writer.

Not being in the Great War, I can only imagine the technology of the time and trust in old war movies. In addition, this is a foreign culture in a foreign time. People there had a tendency to trust and respect their elders unquestionably.

Being of the Vietnam era, I could however relate to the parts about the different personalities and some of the war situations and attitudes. I could appreciate the river crossing at night and the defending of the deserted town. I even liked the cat that they befriended in the story. We had a dog that was named Followme, which was one of the few that did not end up in a pot. I even could feel the anxiety of not fighting and just waiting for action. The only major difference is the question of do you want the people to be behind you to push you on or cheer you on, or doing the same job with people that are indifferent or not supportive?

Anyway even with the graphic description of the actual battle is more of a description of war, not a reason to sue for peace at any cost. The story is more of a, "don't let someone pull the wool over your eyes," with the talk of the glory of war. A movie with that theme is "The Americanization of Emily" (1964)". Also, don't let Authority blindly lead you into the army with the condos as in, "Private Benjamin" (1980).

This is not the end but the key statement that pretty much sums it up, "He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the western Front."

All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal Cinema Classics)
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5.0 out of 5 stars You are there, April 14 2008
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Erich Maria Remarque did a great job with his story. Being first person in view gave you the feeling that you were there. To add to this he is a very good writer.

Not being in the Great War, I can only imagine the technology of the time and trust in old war movies. Also this is a foreign culture in a foreign time. People there had a tendency to trust and respect their elders unquestionably.

Being of the Vietnam era I could however relate to the parts about the different personalities and some of the war situations and attitudes. I could appreciate the river crossing at night and the defending of the deserted town. I even liked the cat that they befriended in the story. We had a dog that was named Followme, which was one of the few that did not end up in a pot. I even could feel the anxiety of not fighting and just waiting for action. The only major difference is the question of do you want the people to be behind you to push you on or cheer you on, or doing the same job with people that are indifferent or not supportive?

Anyway even with the graphic description of the actual battle is more of a description of war, not a reason to sue for peace at any cost. The story is more of a, "don't let someone pull the wool over your eyes," with the talk of the glory of war. A movie with that theme is "The Americanization of Emily" (1964)". Also don't let Authority blindly lead you into the army with the condos as in, "Private Benjamin" (1980).

This is not the end but the key statement that pretty much sums it up, "He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the western Front."
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5.0 out of 5 stars You are there, July 23 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Erich Maria Remarque did a great job with his story. Being first person in view gave you the feeling that you were there. To add to this he is a very good writer.

Not being in the Great War, I can only imagine the technology of the time and trust in old war movies. Also this is a foreign culture in a foreign time. People there had a tendency to trust and respect their elders unquestionably.

Being of the Vietnam era I could however relate to the parts about the different personalities and some of the war situations and attitudes. I could appreciate the river crossing at night and the defending of the deserted town. I even liked the cat that they befriended in the story. We had a dog that was named Followme, which was one of the few that did not end up in a pot. I even could feel the anxiety of not fighting and just waiting for action. The only major difference is the question of do you want the people to be behind you to push you on or cheer you on, or doing the same job with people that are indifferent or not supportive?

Anyway even with the graphic description of the actual battle is more of a description of war, not a reason to sue for peace at any cost. The story is more of a, "don't let someone pull the wool over your eyes," with the talk of the glory of war. A movie with that theme is "The Americanization of Emily" (1964)". Also don't let Authority blindly lead you into the army with the condos as in, "Private Benjamin" (1980).

This is not the end but the key statement that pretty much sums it up, "He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the western Front."
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting look at the other side of WWI, June 7 2004
This review is from: All Quiet on the Western Front (Mass Market Paperback)
The novel All Quiet on the Western Front depicts the battle of the Germans during World War I. It is narrated by Paul Baumer, a twenty year old German, and reveals the events that take place during he and his comrades lives as they fight the war. Unfortunately, the young men soon have to deal with combat wounds, killed friends, and despair. The men are frequently presented with so many indicences of death before they have even really begun to live their lives.
This novel tells the story of World War I from the German perspective. Although the Germans were thought of as the "enemies" to almost half of the world during the war, I did not see them as such as I was reading this novel. Instead, they just seemed like regular soliders that did not really have a choice about their involvement in the war. They felt no real glory for being soliders and their only desire was to remain alive.
One of the key themes that I though was apparent in the novel is that war is an inhumanity for both sides; there are really no "good and bad" guys when it comes to the soliders that are fighting. All soliders are just fighting and killing because they do not have a choice to do otherwise. This theme can be seen by Paul's willingness to give food to Russian prisoners, and the gulit that he feels after taking the life of an ally solider.
I found the writing style of Remarque appealing. Although I cannot tell how much of the style of the novel was lost in translation, I can say that I found the English translation very straightforward and unadorned. Yet, the sentences still had a certain charm to them and were never banal (as I have often found Hemmingway's to be). Remarque's style reminded me a little of Crane's The Red Badge of Courage. But All Quiet on the Western Front is by far the better book. Its prose flows freely and it is quite a page turner.
If you are at all interested in war stories, I would reccommend reading All Quiet on the Western Front. I warn you that it is by not means an uplifting book and that it can be very graphic at times. But if you would like to experience a first hand account of World War I from the German side then you should read this book. It is the anti-war book for all wars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Battle Scenes, June 6 2004
By 
kickit (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All Quiet on the Western Front (Mass Market Paperback)
Okay, to start off, this book has many good battle scenes, that are well described in lurid detail. I've noticed that some people have said in reviews that this book is extremely "sick" because of the how the author describes the battle scenes and the story in general. For one thing, you can't sugar coat a war. That basically means that if you want to write a good story about one of the most horrible wars in history, you have to include the horror of it. And yes, the main character, Paul, was obviously completely shell-shocked, or nuts, as some people might call him. When you are about as nuts as Paul was, then you actually might want death to come. This actually has and still does happen with soldiers that fight in wars, such as World War 1 and Vietnam. Anyway, I was amazed and enchanted by how this author, I can't spell his name, put his thoughts when he himself was fighting in the war through this main character. I swear, I could never dream of writing down such distinct thoughts and actally making sense of them. I took off one star because at times, this book got pretty boring. But still, buy this book, which is definitely the greatest war novel ever.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Graphic and memorable, but also ambivalent, May 14 2004
By 
Peter Reeve (Thousand Oaks, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All Quiet on the Western Front (Mass Market Paperback)
There is ambivalence in Remarque's 'anti-war' stance. As much as there is condemnation of the incompetence and war mongering of the officer class, there is praise for the comradeship, courage and sacrifice of the common soldier. This ambivalence was reflected in the reaction of later generations of Germans. Some have seen him as unpatriotic, others as being justly critical of a corrupt regime that betrayed and misled the nation's brave youth. It may have done as much to prepare Germany for World War II as it did to deter it. Whatever your view, this work is a fascinating primary historical source. We learn, for example, that the German troops laughed when they first saw tanks, though they soon learned to take them seriously. Also of interest is the reference to trenching tools being more effective than bayonets in hand-to-hand combat. The book is full of insights like that.
The enemy in the narrative is usually the French. For a view from the other side, "Under Fire" by Henri Barbusse is highly recommended. Barbusse is a better writer than Remarque and it is a pity that his great work seems to have become sadly neglected in recent times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, May 8 2004
This review is from: All Quiet on the Western Front (Mass Market Paperback)
I was assigned to read this book in 9th grade, and was absolutely amazed by it, one of the few books i have bothered to read multiple times, one of my two favorite books (that and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, how ironic...). Though, being a translation, the syntax and vocabulary of the book aren't sophisticated, the ideas presented are, Remarque does an incredible job of depicting life at the front in WWI, and the characterization is excellent. The back cover is misleading, portraying the novel as the stereotypical war novel, whether or not that stereotype is deserving; the book does not focus on Paul "holding tight to a single vow.........if only he can get out of the war alive." it illustrates life in the trenches, and shows the way humans adjust to such harsh conditions, the true feeling one gets from reading the novel is not recreatable in a synopsis. When i first read the book, it took me until halfway through the novel to appreciate it, but when i reread it, the beginning is just as incredible as the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Disquieting, April 1 2004
This review is from: All Quiet on the Western Front (Mass Market Paperback)
"All Quiet on the Western Front" tells the story of a group of young, idealistic German youth who volunteer for the war on the preachings of their teacher. The story focuses on the narrator, Paul Baumer, as he and his friends come face to face with the horrors of war that the older generation will never experience. Abruptly, thier idealistic notions are shattered as they encounter the newest monstrosities of war - tanks, airplanes, machine guns, gas, etc... that destroy not only lives, but the spirits of those who are "lucky" enough to survive.
At times poetic, Erich Maria Remarque's novel doesn't depict war as glorious or noble. His soldiers question their reason for fighting and long for a home that will never be the same after the war. When the main character receives a leave for home, he finds it more damaging than restoring. In the front lines, he can live with what he sees because he doesn't think about it. At home, everyone has the wrong idea of war - how noble their actions are, how easy winning should be - and dwelling on these thoughts, the soldier cannot bear the sights he sees when he returns to war. He cannot handle the killing. Remarque has his narrator speak of the disparity between fighting and life - how after the war, nothing will be the same for this generation of young soldiers, barely out of their teens; their life now is made up of death.
As an avid fan of anything relating to WWI and WWII, this book speaks volumes to just how horrific and unexpectedly devastating WWI was to an entire generation. Knowing the experiences of other soldiers (such as the soldier-poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen) allows Remarque's narrative to resonanate all the more deeply. His novel could very well be the beginning signal of what we've come to call "the lost generation." For indeed, these soldiers are lost.
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All Quiet on the Western Front
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (Mass Market Paperback - March 12 1987)
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