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. *
All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque and published first in 1928 by Ullstein A. G. and later in 1929 by Little, Brown and Company; is a sobering tale of growth and war told from the perspective of Paul Bäumer, a young German student who fights on the battlefront in World War One. This novel would fall under the war and historical fiction genres.
I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow… *
Paul enlists with his classmates, consumed with romantic ideas of fighting for glory, fresh with youth, high on enthusiasm, and full of patriotic ideals. But when they’re out on the front lines, seeing the carnage of war, having their friends blown to bits before their eyes, they begin to reconsider. Maybe war isn’t all that the propaganda made it out to be, and maybe the young men on the other side of the war are much the same as Paul and his friends; boys made to grow up too fast, with big guns, scared eyes, and the same commands drilled into their heads. Fight, kill, never mind the shells exploding or the gunfire taking out your comrades beside you.
Throughout the war, one thing keeps Paul going despite the horrors and filth and loss of war; he must fight against whatever it is that sets men against men, makes them monsters, kills their brothers. He must make it out. He must come back from the western front alive.
We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost. *
I recommend this book for ages 18+. There is intense violence, mature elements, and mature language as well as detailed atrocities of war that are not suitable for younger children. All Quiet on the Western Front is a phenomenally well written book however; with memorable characters and excellent imagery. All in all, 4.5 out of 5 stars. (1.5 out of 5 stars for inappropriate content.)
*All quotes taken from All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque and published first in 1928 by Ullstein A. G. and later in 1929 by Little, Brown and Company