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All Quiet on the Western Front
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Gail (gailifer) | 1543 comments I have read this as part of the 2018 Random List Selection for May #23

Well deserving of its reputation for being an extraordinary anti-war book, this story is a very personal insight into a young German soldier's experience during World War I. There is almost no reference to what caused the war and the soldiers have little philosophical discussions about why they are fighting it. The reader doesn't get war strategy or historical chronological overviews. What the reader does get is the horror of the trenches, being caught in No Man's Land, screaming horses, turnip soup for days and the pain of watching a close comrade get wounded and knowing before they themselves know, that they will die. There is the usual hatred and distrust of their own officers and the slow distancing from anything they used to think was normal to the point that the main protagonist can no longer enjoy leave because "home" is just an alien world. They are totally lost in the madness of this particularly carnage filled war but it could be written about any war. War is madness and this book draws it very clearly. Plus there is no escape as those that live through the war will drag the war with them for the rest of their lives and most of the boys, the soldiers, on all sides will be blown to pieces or die of infected wounds in the fields. It is a powerful book.

Kristel (kristelh) | 4263 comments Mod
Read in 2016, This book is not a work of literary genius but a realistic story of war. If you ever wanted someone to tell you what it is like to be in a war, then this is the book to read. Remarque does not hold back. He was a WWI soldier himself and therefore he knows and he does not glorify it. This is the story of young men, just beginning their adult life, who are talked into enlisting by their schoolmaster. WWI was a new kind of war. It has been called a Chemistry war. Gases were used by Germany but also by the Allies. They used tear gas, mustard gas, chlorine gas and phosgene. This was the war that had planes, tanks, fire throwers, all kinds of bombs and men fought in trenches. My great uncle was in WWI and had some mustard gas (or maybe something else) with some damage to his lungs. I never realized that the allies also used gas.

Quotes I highlighted:
"You take it from me, we are losing the war because we an salute too well."

"Give 'em all the same grub and all the same pay
And the war would be over and done in a day."

"...for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony--"

Even though this book is set in WWI, I suspect many of the experiences that our soldiers experience are still the same.

Amanda Dawn | 1251 comments I bought this book at a used bookstore this winter and brought it to the beach to read during a heatwave last week. It certainly wasn’t a “beachy” themed book and is extremely heavy, but it was a great read and I gave it 4 stars. As others mentioned, it is very almost anti-lyrical and “literature-y” in quality and leans very heavily into the sense of realism, making it a jarring read that truly gets at the weariness that the soldiers experienced. It also conveys the sense of the pointlessness-especially at the foot solider level- of WWI, further emphasizing its massive tragedy. Also, despite knowing how it was going to end, the ending still hit me and makes a huge and abrupt impact, fitting to the content. I’m really interested in watching the classic movie now.

Tatjana JP | 295 comments I agree with all the others - this is an extraordinary anti-war book which I read for my TBR challenge. The theme is heavy, the writting on the experiences during WWI of the main character, as well as his soldier friends very realistic and at the first glance without any emotions.
My rating: 4 stars.

Daisey | 272 comments I've had this book on my TBR for a long time and finally got to it this month thanks to the TBR Takedown. I consider this an amazing book that very clearly portrays the harsh reality of war and its impact on young soldiers. I felt the direct and realistic writing was perfect for getting this message across to readers. I will absolutely be thinking of this book for a long time, especially when reading other stories of war that describe it with a lighter touch.

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