All Quiet on the Western Front Still a Disquieting Tale

In All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque takes readers into the German trenches of World War I. By the time readers meet the novel’s 20-year-old narrator, Paul Baumer, and his friends, they are battle-hardened veterans.

All Quiet on the Western Front is not a pleasant novel, but it is a well-written one. There is a reflective, meditative tone to Paul’s narration that gives the story immediacy and humanity.

The events of the novel, graphic and horrible, are the events of war.

Soldiers bleed and die at the front, at aid stations, in hospitals.

Rats attack in packs.

Horses scream in agony, sending shivers down the spines of veterans who have watched unmoved as men died.

Worn out artillery kills the men it is supposed to protect.

All the while, safe at the rear, commanders make plans that send hundreds more to extinction.

A sniper’s bullet ends Paul’s life shortly before the armistice. But ironically the bullet saves Paul from what he most feared: the attempt to re-enter civilian life burdened by the memories of war.

As long as nations send their young people straight from schoolyards to combat zones, All Quiet on the Western Front will continue to be an important book.

All Quiet on the Western Front
By Erica Maria Remarque
Trans. A. W. Wheen
Little, Brown, 1929
291 pages
1929 Bestseller #1
My grade: A
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni
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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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