Storm of Steel
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Storm of Steel

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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  2,413 ratings  ·  229 reviews
A memoir of astonishing power, savagery, and ashen lyricism, 'Storm of Steel' illuminates not only the horrors but also the fascination of total war, seen through the eyes of an ordinary German soldier.

Young, tough, patriotic, but also disturbingly self-aware, Jünger exulted in the Great War, which he saw not just as a great national conflict but more importantly as a uni...more
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Penguin Books (first published 1920)
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William
I have often lamented the lack of German World War I perspectives. Erich Maria-Remarque aside, I usually read works by British and French scholars, memoirists, diarists, and novelists. Fortunately here is a fine memoir translated from the German by the esteemed Michael Hofmann. I like its very flat spare prose. Everything is simply allowed to stand for itself: bravery, death, corpses, blood, shrapnel, friendship, dreams. Plainly declarative, there is no unnecessary coloration, no prolixity, no s...more
Eric
Expecting a Marinetti-like vociferation, an avant-garde hymn to mechanical war, I initially found Jünger’s narrative a little flat. In The Great War and Modern Memory Paul Fussell makes Jünger sound entertainingly gauche, a gas-goggled steampunk berserker with a will-to-power prose style. I was bored by the 100 pages preceding “chapter” 7, “Guillemont,” whose evocation of the Battle of the Somme finally hooked me:

A runner from a Württemberg regiment reported to me to guide my platoon to the fa
...more
Laura
Ernst Jünger is an insurance actuary’s worst nightmare — he smoked, drank, experimented with drugs, served in two world wars, sustained multiple injuries, and yet died only one month shy of 103. And his exploits on the front! You couldn’t make this stuff up. I confess to not knowing many Germans, but the national stereotypes (organized, efficient, not a lot of laughs) were more than born out in his memoir.

One of the things that struck me the most about the book was how different it was from Brit...more
Warwick
An oddly jaunty memoir of the Western Front, characterised by what Jünger describes somewhere as his ‘strange mood of melancholy exultation’. I am surprised so many people have found his prose ‘clean’, ‘sparse’, ‘unemotional’ – I thought the opposite, that it was rather over-literary in many places; not overwritten exactly, but with touches of a grand Romantic sensibility that I haven't found in English or French writers of the First World War:

The white ball of a shrapnel shell melted far off, s
...more
Terence
Feb 16, 2009 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history/memoirs of war fans
Recommended to Terence by: Classics for Pleasure (Michael Dirda)
Ernst Junger's memoir of his time on the Western Front (1914-1918) is a powerful glimpse at what it's like to be a soldier, made all the more powerful because it's unadorned with philosophical introspection or politics. The reader joins Junger as he joins his unit in Champagne and leaves him during his final convalescence in a Hanover hospital. In between, we vicariously experience the daily life of a German officer and his men - and "vicarious" is about as close as any rational person would wan...more
Nat
Jünger's account of the brutal fighting on the western front in WWI makes an enlightening contrast with Robert Graves's Goodbye to All That. Graves's account is comic and ironic, while Jünger's writing is almost completely dispassionate, even while describing his friends being torn to shreds by British artillery and sniper fire--an example of the so-called Neue Sachlichkeit applied to trench warfare. It's hard not to see the difference as an expression of a difference in national character betwe...more
Newengland
Jul 23, 2008 Newengland rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: war lit. fans; WWI buffs, historians
STORM OF STEEL offers WWI from a German soldier's point of view, but Erich Maria Remarque it ain't. All told, author Ernst Junger was shot multiple times, yet would live not only to write this book (and many others) but to celebrate his 103rd birthday (attended by an unusually patient Grim Reaper-in-Waiting). In the penultimate page of this book, he writes: "Leaving out trifles such as ricochets and grazes, I was hit at least fourteen times, these being five bullets, two shell splinters, one shr...more
Sylvia
An interesting book, at points intense, dull, moving, surprising, bloody, and repetitive. I am glad I read it, not particularly for any information it bestowed upon me about the war (there's not much), but more for giving me the flavor of what WWI was like from a first-person perspective. Particularly, the first-person perspective of a person who DIDN'T feel like it was the war to end all wars: in fact, he expresses chagrin at the very idea that war would end, because he considers it an essentia...more
Benjamin
Apr 10, 2008 Benjamin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Quimby Melton, Brian Blessinger
"Disturbingly self-aware." Killing did not trouble Junger too much - his ability to move through absolute carnage on an industrial scale cannot but fascinate. The first World War was the charnel house of charnel houses, a maw consuming men and nations whose aftershocks reverberate today not only in Berlin but even in Baghdad. Junger stands in vivid contrast to the ranks of writers who rejected the war and everything it stood for; he found it a positive experience and did not agonize over his exp...more
Mike (the Paladin)
A book I recommend but with a caveat...I'd say be prepared for a memoir of day to day war. This is an interesting book. If you read the introduction (and I recommend you do) you'll find some insight and some commentary.

By the way. There are multiple editions of this book it has been released many times. The edition I read went with the author's words and Michael Hoffman translates and does an introduction. Mr. Hoffman notes (among other things) that at times Junger uses the wrong word in the te...more
Jim
This was fantastic. Ernst Junger was in WWI on the German side. His deadpan, factual account of what the war was like for him is riveting & horrific. He describes what trench warfare was like, the victories, defeats & deaths. He also describes the boredom, the terror & the conditions. Often times horrible conditions are described more by the thin assets of the situation, such as getting a pair of good, woolen socks from a captured bunker or being lucky enough to only pick up some shr...more
E
Being generally anti-war as well as knowing - as anyone does - in which direction post-WWI Germany ultimately turned, this book was chilling for me to read. It is now used as an example of post-WWI militarism in Germany in direct opposition to the anti-war movement epitomized in "All Quiet On The Western Front" by Remarque and "War Against War" by Friedrich. So this book is indeed interesting and important to read, thus I gave it 2 stars, but I can't say I enjoyed the macho aggressive propaganda...more
Nancy
Forget Remarque; this is the most important German account of the Great War that I've read. It's scary stuff; Jünger's clinical detachment in regard to the carnage in service of the cult of the warrior shows in itself why it wasn't the war to end all wars. In terms of his international acclaim, his time table of December 1914 to summer 1918 which allowed him to ignore issues of "frighfulness" at the beginning and the "stab in the back" at the end I suspect is the only thing that made this story...more
Nigeyb
Ernst Jünger's account of his years fighting as a German soldier on the Western Front during World War One is one of the most graphic I have ever read in terms of descriptions of injuries and violence. That said, much of a soldier's life is routine and boring, and Jünger covers this aspect too.

I was surprised by Jünger's matter-of-factness. Although the book is all written in the first person it all feels at one remove. Jünger is a consummate professional, accepting everything that comes his way...more
Miriam
This is probably the cheeriest war memoir ever. While Junger occasionally remembers to throw in the the requisite "oh the horrors of war" comment, most of the time it is clear he is having a blast.
Eric_W
I think Junger is reflecting a lot of the duality or conflict that many soldiers in combat feel; an intense feeling of camaraderie and living on the edge that brings reality into sharper focus. Yet on page 260 (Penguin edition) he says: "...I felt I had got tired, and used to the aspect of war, but it was from this familiarity that I observed what was in front of me in a new and subdued light. Things were less dazzlingly distinct. And I felt that the purpose with which I had gone out to fight ha...more
Mark
How in the world did the writer survive to pen this memoir? On the penultimate page, he recounts the wounds himself and says, not counting ricochets and grazes, he was wounded fifteen times. This over four years on and off at the front, yo-yoing from position to position (though mostly all within the same regiment).

He doesn't linger too long on any one thing, with a couple of exceptions, like his piecing together of memory of what he calls The Great Battle. Otherwise it's just a description of t...more
Sandra
This book is interesting to read, as I did, almost back-to-back with Barbusse's Le Feu. The experiences of the two authors are clearly very similar - you will find the same extremely disturbing imagery treated with what seems almost indifference, as exposure to horrors has worn away their susceptibility to shock. However, while Barbusse seems to refute the possibility of a 'right' or 'wrong' in the context of filth, decay and the unreasoning perpetuation of the conflict, Jünger takes most of the...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is an account of one German soldier's experience in World War I. He was wounded at least 11 times, patched up and sent back to the front. Not very interesting, eh? Junger was an extraordinary observer who kept a diary from the first day of the war to its conclusion. His was the first such soldier's account to be published after the war. From that diary he gave us enormous insight. The prose is so much better than one might expect - even his occasional quoting of that diary.
The stream poured
...more
Gary
Wow....a very intense description of Ernst's experience fighting in the trenches of World War One.

Really incredible and terrifying.

Also incredible how brave the men were and i found really strange the
gentlemanly attitude of sportmanship and fair play a lot of the time.
Almost every page had descriptions of people getting blown to bits by
hugh artillery rounds and horrendous descriptions of gas attacks and the conditions in the trenches.

It seems to me the generals did not care for one individual li...more
Gail Kirby
This is a diary account of a German soldier in WW1. I've recently re-read All's Quiet on the Western Front and several selections from Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge detective series (a WW1 survivor) as well as a non-fiction history, G.J. Meyers' A World Undone, and I was surprised at the tone of Storm of Steel. It was almost without any emotion. The events (mostly individual battles) were presented as detailed facts including friends that are killed, jaunts into No Man's Lands and detailed descrip...more
Philipp
Roughly 100 years after the start of the First World War, Jünger's autobiographical novel summarizing his experience 1914-1918 on the western front still makes for interesting reading.

Having just read the Odyssey I couldn't help but think that some God must have been with him like Athena was with Odysseus - bullets constantly kill everyone around him, people are torn to shreds, he is wounded about 15 or 16 times, most of these wounds are just minor but close (several times bullets enter his head...more
Matt
Very powerful account of the trench warfare experience of the first world war. Most of the book is very descriptive. Many die grisly deaths and it's clear that they would be anonymous among many others save their recording in this book. The author himself is wounded more than once, and it's amazing he isn't dead given the near constant bombs going off around him. His descriptions of the heavy artillery barrages are intense and terrifying.

Moments of reflection are somewhat infrequent. But when th...more
Bookwombat
First, the headlines:
This is a great book for getting a "frog's eye" perspective of warfare on the Western Front in WWI.
However, keep in mind that this is also an edited version of Jünger's diaries and that he revised it several times to "fit the times".
(It's this latter "quality" that prevents me from giving it 4 or 5 stars)

Jünger's book is often (and often derisively) compared with some of the other famous books on WWI, and depicted as a sort of "particularly German" glorification of war with...more
David
A well-read 10-hour two-part unabridged Audible download. An excellent book to listen to if you have to take a long drive with a teenager who is considering joining the military, because it portrays military life realistically, pluses and minuses, neither mindless glorification or goateed surrender-monkey.

For some odd reason I've recently read or listened to several works on the theme of war. I like this non-fiction work by a WWI German officer better than more-recent fiction works on this topi...more
Nostromo
“Thank God you can only die once.”

This is a five-star war memoir equal to Eugene Sledge’s ‘With the Old Breed’, Robert Grave’s ‘Goodbye to All That’, Guy Sajer’s ‘The Forgotten Soldier’, and personal memoirs of Generals Grant and Sherman. ‘Storm of Steel’ merits inclusion into the Pantheon of these great warrior memoirs that so ably captured the very essence – the horror - of combat!

Ernst Junger’s ‘Storm of Steel’ is about a German soldier enduing four years of unrelenting Trench Warfare on the...more
Wendy
This is sort of the antidote to Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, and while both books center on the horrors of trench warfare during WWI as seen through a German Soldier's eyes, the similarities stop there. To be fair, these two books should not really be compared. While Remarque created an emotionally moving novel with an anti-war theme, Storm of Steel is the author's memoir of his lieutenancy on the Western Front. The 3 year memoir covers 1916 to 1918 and much was pulled directly fro...more
KOMET
As the son of a Second World War combat veteran, there is something about November 11th that resonates deep within me. That day brings into sharp relief the sacrifices made by the veterans of the First World War. For that reason, while scanning my library a few days ago, I resolved to read an eyewitness account of the war --- from the German side.

For the author, Ernst Jünger (1895-1998), the war was a long one, spanning from 1915 to 1918. During those years, he saw a considerable amount of acti...more
Scott
Storm of Steel (1920) is Ernst Jünger's memoir of his four years as a trench warrior on the western front during the First World War. The storm referred to in the title isn't a boast so much as a badge. Though a commander of storm troops trained to spearhead an attack, Jünger spent most of the war driven to ground by an unrelenting tempest of high explosives, shrapnel, and flying lead. Caught in this cyclone of whirling iron shards, he and his men often could do little more than hunker down and...more
Laura
This edition, which is a 1929 translation of the 1920 German edition-- the first-- of Junger's most famous book, is radically different from the recent Penguin edition, which is a translation of his final edition, written some 50 years later. This version ends with an angry "Germany lives and Germany will never go under!" and coasts the entire way on a much angrier, much more-disbelieving attitude than the final edition. This book was written by a man in his early twenties who had suddenly found...more
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KC - Book Club /int/: Book #2 Storm of Steel - Ernst Jünger 7 23 Sep 03, 2014 02:11PM  
Comparisons 2 30 Jul 19, 2014 02:01PM  
Bright Young Things: "Storm of Steel" by Ernst Jünger 9 23 May 03, 2014 10:50AM  
Storm of Steel 4 45 Jan 30, 2013 01:05PM  
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • Under Fire
  • The First Day on the Somme
  • Undertones of War
  • Goodbye to All That
  • The Forgotten Soldier
  • Her Privates We
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • The Great War and Modern Memory
  • In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front (Modern War Studies (Paper)
  • The First World War
  • Black Edelweiss
  • Eye-Deep In Hell: Trench Warfare In World War I
  • Testament of Youth
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War: Told by Those Who were There
  • A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
  • Lost Victories: The War Memoirs of Hilter's Most Brilliant General
  • The Face of Battle
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German writer. In addition to his many novels, he is well known for Storm of Steel, an account of his experience during the First World War.

Many regard him as one of Germany's greatest modern writers and a hero of the conservative revolutionary movement following World War I. Others dismiss him as a militarist or reactionary.

More about Ernst Jünger...
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“Habent sua fata libelli et balli [Books and bullets have their own destinies]” 9 likes
“Die Männer hatten die Bajonette aufgepflanzt. Sie standen in steinerner Unbeweglichkeit, das Gewehr in der Hand, am vorderen Hange des Hohlwegs und starrten in das Vorgelände. Ab und zu, beim Schein einer Leuchtkugel, sah ich Stahlhelm an Stahlhelm, Klinge an Klinge blinken und wurde von einem Gefühl der Unverletzbarkeit erfüllt. Wir konnten zermalmt, aber nicht besiegt werden.” 1 likes
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