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Storm of Steel

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  5,023 Ratings  ·  419 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
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 288 pages
Published June 3rd 2004 by Penguin Books (first published 1920)
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Sam It's rated high for lots of reasons, but your question seems to be really asking "why is this book rated so high even though it appears to glorify…moreIt's rated high for lots of reasons, but your question seems to be really asking "why is this book rated so high even though it appears to glorify war?"

Junger is a voice for an era that is hard to imagine for modern people. Soldiering had been a respectable profession (in Britain) or so entrenched in society through conscription (France and Germany/Prussia) that it permeated the way people of that time thought. Almost non-existent in Western society today, a sizable portion of populations of numerous nations supported war not just as a way to further national interests, but as a way to ensure that moral and ethical standards were maintained. Without war, materialism and consumption would cripple or destroy society as they knew it.

To cast off this book simply because it glorifies war or violence would ignore that it stands as valuable piece of history that helps us understand the way some felt about the savage conflict in which they found themselves.

Also, Junger denounced the Nazi's and refused to lend his considerable respect and admiration of the German people for Hitler or Goebell's propaganda purposes. Although Junger felt strongly about German identity, Junger was not a Nazi. He did serve as an officer for the Wehrmacht, spending much of the War in occupied Paris. (less)

Community Reviews

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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
Jan 06, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-i, war
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
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
Jul 07, 2014 Warwick rated it liked it
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
Mar 20, 2017 Sebastien rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. Junger has extraordinary gifts as a writer. The one thing that makes it harder to connect with his accounts was his cool detachment in his presentation of events and experiences. Beneath the surface is a bit of soft nationalism which is obnoxious but not completely blind or extreme, at least not as blind or extreme as one would expect from a French or German citizen/soldier who was constantly indoctrinated with this nationalistic state propaganda of the times. It really is p ...more
Dec 30, 2008 Terence rated it liked it  ·  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
Mar 12, 2008 Nat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Free download in German available at Project Gutenberg.

The train stopped at Bazancourt, a small town in Champagne, and we got out. Full of awe and incredibility, we listening to the slow grinding pulse of the front , a rhythm we were to become mighty familiar with over the years.
Bryan Alexander
Feb 16, 2016 Bryan Alexander rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit, world-war-i
This is an excellent and unusual World War I novel.* It's unusual in that most WWI fiction and memoires are anti-war, dark and furious at the appalling human waste.** Ernst Jünger, in contrast, had a grand time.

Well, that's a bit flip. Storm of Steel is full of savagery, physical suffering, squalor, and an ultimate sense of frustration. But the narrator also exults in war. He delights in daredevil acts, charging the enemy, organizing his troops, and appreciating details of life in the rear. Jün

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Copyright: 2010
Audiobook Copyright: 2010
Genre: History

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Blurb: This classic war memoir, first published in 1920, is based on the author's extensive diaries describing hard combat experienced on the Western Front during World War I. It has been greatly admired by people as diverse as Bertolt Brecht and Andre Gide, and from every part of the political spectrum.

Hypnotic, thrilling, and magnificent,
Oct 06, 2007 E rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
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
Apr 09, 2008 Benjamin rated it really liked it
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
Jan 13, 2008 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
Aug 15, 2013 Sylvia rated it liked it
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
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
Apr 05, 2016 Ray rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Unsettling memoire from a German officer who fought throughout the first world war. He took thirteen wounds and survived, having fought in many of the key battles on the western front. The book gives a sense of what the war was like, full of monotony, terror, comradeship and blood and guts.

A touch vain glorious for my taste, and the author shows little sense of regret. Very matter of fact about death and destruction. I suspect that one becomes inured to death if one faces it every day.
Jan 23, 2009 Eric_W rated it it was ok
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
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
Nov 13, 2007 Brian rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: WWI buffs, history-lovers
Ernst Junger's account as a lieutenant in the German Imperial Army is as mind-blowing for its depictions of almost daily death as it is for its lack of moralizing and sentimentality. Even more amazing is the picture he paints of the innocent victims of war almost as backdrops to the overwhelming historical events unfolding. The detail of troop movements is amazing and I found myself reading with one hand and "Google-Mapping" with the other hand to see just where all this carnage had taken place. ...more
Jul 21, 2013 Gearóid rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2008 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Dec 30, 2011 Nostromo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Mike (the Paladin)
Apr 27, 2011 Mike (the Paladin) rated it liked it
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
Jan 29, 2014 Nigeyb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww1
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
Sep 15, 2015 Martin rated it really liked it
'The state, which relieves us of our responsibility, cannot take away our remorse; and we must exercise it. Sorrow, regret, pursued me deep into my dreams.' (p.241)

Gripping memoir of writer Ernst Jünger's experience of combat in the German front line during World War I. At times confusing & claustrophobic, probably on purpose (for example during raids in British trenches), the events and sights described in this book can only make us begin to understand what these soldiers went through. The
Egor D
Oct 27, 2013 Egor D rated it it was amazing
Seldom war diary which describes war so realistic so it gives feeling of you being in fields, being shoot on, being together in trenches. The book gives also a sight on First WW on Western front (Somme and other places in France, Nederlands and Belgium)where are weapons of mass destruction of that time were on its high (such as ship canons of large caliber, landmines, gas and tanks). A lot of small stories of everyday life of unterofficer in German army gives a lot of information about communica ...more
Dec 14, 2015 Connor rated it really liked it
Brutal, but excellent. One of the better war memoirs I've read.
Matt Perry
Fantastic account of life in the trenches. Being British it's interesting to note the view from the "other side" is virtually identical. The recollections of battle are vivid, the horror of the trenches is laid out in shocking detail, without ever going to far. The most fascinating aspect for me so far is how lucky the writer is. I'm sure he undersells what an excellent warrior he is, you don't do multiple raids on the enemies trenches and survive, or get hand picked to train elite teams by acci ...more
Noah Goats
Feb 26, 2017 Noah Goats rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's amazing that Ernst Junger survived WWI. This book is a catalogue of horrors, and Junger was in the middle of these horrors for years, subject to constant shelling, gas attacks, and gunfire. He saw his comrades shot up and torn apart in front of him regularly. But he somehow made it through and wrote this powerful memoir.

The record he left is gritty and dark, but also patriotic and even optimistic at times. I've always read about WWI from the English, French and American perspective, and Jun
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  • Undertones of War
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • Under Fire
  • The First Day on the Somme
  • The Burning of the World: A Memoir of 1914
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • July 1914: Countdown to War
  • Her Privates We
  • Goodbye to All That
  • The Great War and Modern Memory
  • The Eastern Front 1914-1917
  • Eye-Deep In Hell: Trench Warfare In World War I
  • Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • Ring Of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I
  • The Forgotten Soldier
  • In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front
  • Somme
Ernst Jünger was a decorated German soldier and author who became famous for his World War I memoir Storm of Steel. The son of a successful businessman and chemist, Jünger rebelled against an affluent upbringing and sought adventure in the Wandervogel, before running away to briefly serve in the French Foreign Legion, an illegal act. Because he escaped prosecution in Germany due to his father's ef ...more
More about Ernst Jünger...

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“Habent sua fata libelli et balli [Books and bullets have their own destinies]” 20 likes
“These moments of nocturnal prowling leave an indelible impression. Eyes and ears are tensed to the maximum, the rustling approach of strange feet in the tall grass in an unutterably menacing thing. Your breath comes in shallow bursts; you have to force yourself to stifle any panting or wheezing. There is a little mechanical click as the safety-catch of your pistol is taken off; the sound cuts straight through your nerves. Your teeth are grinding on the fuse-pin of the hand-grenade. The encounter will be short and murderous. You tremble with two contradictory impulses: the heightened awareness of the huntsmen, and the terror of the quarry. You are a world to yourself, saturated with the appalling aura of the savage landscape.

p. 71”
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