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All Quiet on the Western Front [Paperback]

Erich Maria Remarque , A.W. Wheen
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 1996
Considered by many the greatest war novel of all time, All Quiet on the Western Front is Erich Maria Remarque’s masterpiece of the German experience during World War I.

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. . . .

This is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army during World War I. They become soldiers with youthful enthusiasm. But the world of duty, culture, and progress they had been taught breaks in pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches.

Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another . . .  if only he can come out of the war alive.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

“The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first rank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure.”The New York Times Book Review


Product details

  • Paperback: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett Books; 1st Ballantine Books Trade Ed edition (Aug 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449911497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449911495
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 292,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Erich Maria Remarque was a German author and veteran of the First World War. He was born 1898 in Osnabrück, Germany. At the age of 18 he was conscripted into the German army. During his service he was wounded by shrapnel in the left leg, right arm and neck. Following the war he worked as a primary school teacher, and later as a librarian, a journalist and a technical writer.
Among Remarque's published novels were All Quiet on the Western Front, The Road Back, Three Comrades and Arch of Triumph. His works were publicly burned by the Nazi German government, and in 1947 he and his first wife became naturalised citizens of the United States. Four years earlier, his sister had been executed at the behest of Hitler's 'People's Court'.

Remarque adapted the book Ten Days to Die, about Hitler's final days, as a screenplay, and he also wrote for the stage. His last novel was The Night in Lisbon, published in 1962. During his lifetime Remarque married twice and had love affairs with the actresses Hedy Lamarr, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 11 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Both the title itself and other reviewers' comments provide you with an overview of the subject matter of this novel so I won't dwell on that. What I would say however is that I disagree with the notion expressed by other reviewers that this book is applicable to any war and supports the notion that all conflicts are futile. (Although I appreciate that the latter was the intention of the author.)
The reason I say this is because the Western Front during WWI was arguably (bar Stalingrad) the ultimate manifestation of a war of attrition at the battlefield level. Plainly and simply the winner was the side which could sustain the greatest number of casualties yet still keep going. Shamelessly, both sides pursued this strategy relentlessly which only serves to make the futility of this particular conflict all the more poignant.
The most moving passages for me are the protagonist thinking back to the bravado of his teacher encouraging his pupils to join up having bought the propaganda hool, link and sinker; the little things in life that are so meaningful to Paul given that they may be the last time he gets to experience them; the period of leave when he returns to his family who could not begin to understand what he has experienced, and above all the description of what it was like waiting in the bunkers while the shells rained down on them, knowing that at any moment the next shell could be for them. The last passage and action both during and after the barrage are truly amazing.
It's been six months since I read this book and thinking about it something has become clear to me. Once you're read this book you're more of a person that you were before. Gushing maybe but true. There is no higher praise than that.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Only the Dead Have Seen the end of War" 28 July 2009
By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
With the recent sad passing of Harry Patch "The last Tommy", who was the last man alive to have fought in the trenches of the Great War, I feel saddened that the last living link with my grandfathers generation has been lost. He will be buried in the village of Monkton Combe a short drive away from where I live, making it doubly poignant. Harry didn't speak about the war until he was a hundred years old, such was the mark it left on him. In his last years he was outspoken against war and its waste. That war to end all wars almost annihilated a generation and left mental scars on the survivors that would never heal.

There were two things that I did with my children out of respect for that generation. I took them all to see the Menin Gate at Ypres in Belgium with the names of the dead engraved on it. On his first trip out of the country since the war this was the first place Harry Patch visited. If you have not done this, then do it. The second thing I did for my son was to read him Erich Maria Remarque's story "All Quiet on the Western Front". It was a bit too violent for my daughters who are of a more delicate disposition. My son often reminds me that he still has the mental scars from the book. He still asks what sort of father would do that to his son. But he remembers it vividly. I have read it three times now and it is a book that is as powerful today as when it was first published in book form in 1929 when it caused a sensation. It is the daddy of all the anti war books.

We see the war through the eyes of an innocent and naive young soldier Paul Baumer who is fresh from school. After some initial training he is sent to the front where he witnesses the realities of trench warfare. Life becomes very cheap indeed, but Paul adapts and learns how to survive.
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120 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So sad, so poignant 21 May 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is so moving and yet, despite the horrors endured on the frontline during WW1, a sense of humour (however grim) is retained throughout, almost to the last few paragraphs. The story is written in the first person narrative, by a young German soldier, Paul Bauer. He is only eighteen when he is pressured by his family, friends and society in general, to enlist and fight at the front. He enters the army, along with 6 other lads he was at school with, each one filled with fresh, lively, optimistic and patriotic thoughts, but within a few months they are all as old men, in mind if not completely in body. Paul and his friends witness such horrors and endure such severe hardship and suffering, that they are unable to even speak about it to anyone but each other. This is a very moving and poignant novel, and the reader is made even more aware of its poignancy in knowing that its author is writing from experience, having suffered greatly as a young man on the frontline, whilst fighting for the Fatherland.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the German perspective - then and now 17 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover
Having read all 72 previous reviews there were one or two in which the reviewer stated that Remarques book in one way or another did its part to make WWII possible. Being a German born in 1966, with family members - as I found out later (not by being told but by asking unwelcomed questions) - being faithful followers of the impersonated evil during the 1930s and 1940s, in this country's darkest years, I'd like to give a comment and I hope my English is not failing me.

Remarque did not mean to write an anti-war book. As a matter of fact he called it "unpolitical". But the very first lines of the book, placed before the first chapter, do put things into perspective. Yet he still insisted that his novel was not written to convince people to oppose war for he said that "everybody is against going to war anyway." He later corrected this misconception of his. In an interview as late as 1963 he revised his original statement: (translated: "I always believed that everybody was against going to war - until I realized there were some folks who do want to go to war, particularly those who don't need to go themselves."

Remarque himself did not go to war in 1917 voluntarily. He only served in the trenches for a few months until he got wounded by shrapnel and got shot through the neck. He was sent to a military hospital where he listened to (and took notes of) the reports of other soldiers who had seen so much more of the war than he did. What he noted was what became the foundation of his book. And this book, although fictional, became what it is today. It has become an anti-war book by accident because it was received as such. Erich Maria Remarque had no intention of making his fellow Germans more peaceful or more aggressive.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
War is the worst thing imaginable, and this book says it all. Paul was a sensitive chap and his war is told beautifully here although fiction it could easily have been any of the... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
A tough but marvellous read - WW1 from the perspective of a young German soldier
Published 8 days ago by P Vivien Pegram
5.0 out of 5 stars The last paragraph Is the saddest and most emotional.
A great and emotional book full of sad and happy memories.
Published 9 days ago by Dom K
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 10 days ago by sandra davies
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving read and recommended. This is a powerful book
A moving read and recommended. This is a powerful book, covering as it does the story of a German soldier serving in the front. Read more
Published 10 days ago by DWB1873
2.0 out of 5 stars ... was completely different to this one which was a great...
The cover on the book was completely different to this one which was a great disappointment. I presume the content of the book is the same but I would have liked to have received... Read more
Published 10 days ago by christine crabb
5.0 out of 5 stars An Easy to Read, but Hard to Read, MUST READ
this is a must-read for EVERYONE. gives you a good picture into the horror and reality of the Great War. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Ms. C. Driver
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable
Not only the best war novel I've read, but one of my all time favourite books ever written. Nothing else so brilliantly evokes the tragedy and total futility of war with such... Read more
Published 12 days ago by "Computer, Give Me Manual !.."
5.0 out of 5 stars The book the nazis banned
Really sums up the plight of the common soldier, never thought this is the enemy i'm reading about. Banned by the Nazis, i wonder why?
Published 13 days ago by Ken Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving book on WW1 told from the mouth of ...
Very moving book on WW1 told from the mouth of a young German soldier. However this is really about the universal war told by the universal soldier. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Andromeda
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