All Quiet on the Western Front
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque surprised me as a teenager. I was sure that a book about war wouldn’t appeal to me. I was much more enchanted with other types of books. But when we read this my sophomore year in high school I loved it. The melancholy rhythm has stayed with me through the years, but this weekend I picked it up again to fall in love all over again.
The cover of my copy proclaims “The Greatest War Novel of All Time.” Now, I’m not a fan of war novels so I don’t know if that is true, but I do know it is my favorite war novel. I love the characters and the way they are transformed.
I think this book impacted me even more this time around because of the men that I know who have been in war. In high school I never even knew someone who had been in the military much less in a war. I have seen how my friends have been transformed. So much more then it breaks my heart the plight of the men in the book. This quote in particular from the intro touched me.
“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men, who even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”
I also love that this was written by a German soldier. Although they were our enemies in both WWI and WWII I think he captures how many soldiers felt — as if the decisions were not their own but those above them were making all of their decisions; as if their enemies might be more like them than they first imagined.