Mitch Turitz
Mitch Turitz asked:

Has anyone else compared this to "All's Quiet on the Western Front?"

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Dana DesJardins That was my first thought. It's not just that the two books reflect on the same war. It's perhaps the juxtaposition of hope with hopelessness, and the condemnation by young men whose lives are destroyed of their elders. Kipling supposedly wrote as his son's epitaph after he was killed in the Great War, "And when they ask you why we died,/ Tell them that our fathers lied." The ending of both books is so painful that one wonders if leaders who advocate violence ever read either of them.
Stansherman No comparison...Johnny Got His Gun is the Bible of anti-war literature.
Ryan Joseph All Quiet is less terrifying, but not less relevant. All Quiet propounds a history of the war (from the "bad" guys' side) that doesn't end with calamity or victory, but a slow slipping attrition of the bonds that allowed the soldiers to continue to fight ("you fight for the man next to you").

Johnny Got His Gun is a hundred-point indictment of the war apparatus as a social and political Leviathan; All Quiet measures the failure of society to prepare young men with a more existential glance that doesn't rage as much at death, but rather portrays the disintegration of kinship as the unwinding of a man's life before his footnoted death.

NB: another good read about the WWI soldiering experience is "Storm of Steel" by Ernst Junger. Junger's book is a memoir, and less damning than either book - indeed, the Third Reich attempted to appropriate Junger's book as jingoist propaganda - but it crystallizes the sheer existential violence of the war, with less a perspective on terror and the victimization than on the utter destruction of senses (the totality of hellfire from the Somme merits a serious reading, in part to borrow the utter shock and senselessness).
Tommy Both are excellent antiwar books, but AQWF focuses more on the horrors and degradation experienced in war whereas JGHG is more of a social commentary explicitly questioning the purpose of war. AQWF is highly plot driven with suspense created in seeing who survives, while the setup of JGHG focuses specifically on the internal thoughts from a single wounded soldier with minimal senses or opportunities for external interaction. The plot development is driven by his attempts to stay sane and interact with the world. This means there's less distraction from external developments and a more focused explicit message.
Elaina TBH I found All Quiet more disturbing.
Timothy Morrison no comparison! this is about a man as good as dead. it is about one who is forced to be in a total body cast, barely alive, so that he could be like one who is totally destroyed by war
Karen O Interesting question. Those two books were paired by my freshman English teacher in high school. That was in 1971 when the Vietnam war was still going on.
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