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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 7 September 2003
This is a much needed new translation of one of the finest military memoirs ever written. The original has long been recognised as essential reading to anybody with an interest in world war one but has been quite hard to find due to being long out of print, and the original translation left much to be desired. This book is very direct with no attempt to analyse or judge the wider war, it is a simple account of the experiences of one junior officer in the German army and is full of the excitement, danger and tragedy of his war years. For many people used to the British war poets and the "lions led by donkeys" school of world war one this book will be a new and provocative experience as Junger saw the war as one of the greatest experiences of his life and makes no apologies for his feelings. Whether one agrees with or disagrees with his view there can be no doubt he represents a long ignored voice yet a voice which represents more men than we would like to admit. Essential reading.
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on 17 November 2010
Very graphic, fast pacing, the images it evokes are disturbing, and yet you just can't put down the book. The way he describes an artillery barrage, and its effects, it's almost surrealist, you can see a surrealist painting in the images he writes. It's hard to write a review without mentioning specific episodes, and mentioning specific episodes will be a spoiler for some. I'll just say that it is a very visual and fluid writing style, and definitively a masterpiece, besides, several other reviewers managed to write about the book much better than i'll be able to - i just finished reading it and i'm still in shock. About the author's role, or his work's role in Nazi Germany, well, if you're interested in reading this book then hopefully you're an adult and can make the distinction between the merit of a person's work (or the lack of it) and his political and ideological inclinations, or the (mis)appropriation of someone's work for the same reasons.
And i still can't believe someone gave 2 stars to this book. What next? 1 star to Eric Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" because he was German?
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on 4 January 2014
Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel is a classic first-hand account of the First World War. Junger joined the 73rd Hanoverian Infantry Regiment of the German Army on the first day of the war in 1914. He spent the majority of the war facing British opposition and was involved in almost every major offensive on the Western Front. Junger was the youngest receiver of Germany's highest military honour, the Pour Le Merite, and was wounded fourteen times "leaving out trifles like such as ricochets and grazes".

Storm of Steel was written from diaries Junger kept during the war. This explains the book's rigid chronology with emphasis on locations, people and events. Junger paints a vivid, uncensored and, at times, glorified picture of war. He does not mourn lost comrades or show contempt for his foe. It is as brutal as it is honest. But this is the book's merit. Storm of Steel's uncensored perspective of war means the book offers observations other first hand accounts do not. The extreme violence Junger portrays can be shocking but his writing is objective, insightful and brings the realities of war to life.

Storm of Steel is not just a classic piece of literature. It is also a necessary component in First World War historiography. Other memoirs published in the 1920's, such Robert Graves' Goodbye To All That and Erich Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, have pacifist undertones and view the war as a barbaric and unjustifiable waste of life. But Junger provides `the alternative view' that war could be exhilarating and even enjoyable.

Junger is a soldier dedicated toGermany's cause with unquestioned devotion. He views soldiering as a noble and honourable profession. He is prepared to fight and die for Germany. But towards to end of the war Junger becomes more weary and fatalistic as Germany's struggle becomes more desperate.

All in all, Storm of Steel is a literary classic that offers perspectives other accounts do not. Junger is honest about the brutality and devastation inflicted on the conflicts victims. But Junger's exhilaration and honesty is also a source of humanity in a conflict where humanity rarely existed.
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on 21 October 2013
Widely acclaimed as being one of the greatest books to come out of World War One, Ernst Jünger's 'Storm of Steel' is essential reading for anyone interested in The First World War and especially for those wanting to gain an understanding of the conflict from a German soldier's point of view. Later in his life Jünger became a highly controversial figure and this book in particular [which is his account of his time as a German soldier fighting on the Western Front] is often seen as glorifying war. However, having spent the last few evenings reading the book, I have to say that I didn't come away with that impression of it at all.

First and foremost this is a war diary and a very interesting one at that. It is a soldier's record of his experiences in combat and therefore the focus is solely on the where, when and what happened and not on the why. Personally I found Jünger's blow-by-blow account to be a fantastic read but I can understand that the lack of any attempt to morally justify his actions, or consider the wider consequences of them, is what has given this book such a bad press over the years. It is also devoid of the sense of guilt and mawkishness which modern readers of WW1 literature have come to expect. Michael Hofmann, the man responsible for this excellent new translation of Storm of Steel, explores these issues in his detailed introduction to the book.

From his writing Jünger comes across as an intelligent and obviously brave man and throughout the book he makes some matter-of-fact but still profound observations about the nature of warfare and its effect on the men who fight it. There's also plenty of trench humour which helps to take the sting out of the often horrific events unfolding around him.

What made this book an especially worthwhile read for me though was something I unexpectedly came across about halfway through. In the chapter "Langemark" Jünger explains how, from late July until early August 1917, him and his men were in Flanders defending fortified positions located on the eastern side of a stretch of an overflowing stream called the Steenbach. This was of particular interest to me because my great-grandfather, Frederick, was deployed on the same stretch of front at almost exactly the same time as Jünger. In fact he was killed in an early morning assault across the Steenbach on 11 August 1917 about a week after Jünger and his troops had pulled out. I therefore found Jünger's description of the appalling state of the battlefield around that time particularly interesting as it has given me a greater insight into the conditions in which my great-grandfather fought and died.
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on 3 October 2004
I had read so much about this book beforehand that I snapped up "Storm of steel" as soon as I saw it in the shop. Forget preconceptions about the stereotypical Great War literature, this is a book whose author appears to have accepted the horror of warfare and ,perhaps, thrived on the experience.
Unlike efforts such as the more famous "All quiet on the Western Front" or the work of the British war poets, this book eschews the pathos of the war for a realistic account of the everyday quest for survival and the brutality of the conflict. Some of the accounts, such as the pursuit of British soldiers through the trenches during German offences are vivid and shocking and illustrates how the soldier became de-humanised.
Although written from the German point of view, this is a book that merits it's reputation, if not for the style of writing, then for it's honesty. An essential read for those interested in The Great War.
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on 3 June 2010
Apart from Goodbye to All That (Penguin Modern Classics) I hadn't read any eyewitness-accounts of the First World War (though some historical books on the subject), and even this one I stumbled across quite by accident. I cannot claim to be a passionate reader on the subject, let alone an expert. But still, somehow, this book had me by the throat from page one. Looking back, I think it is the strange mix of detachment and involvement in the writing that makes this so powerful a book.

On the one hand, Jünger describes his experiences in the trenches in a very detached, unemotional matter. Events, even of the most gruesome sort, are described 'as he witnessed them' as if he was there as a neutral, impartial observer instead of a participant. The very first sentence of the book is typical: 'The train stopped at Bazancourt, a small town in Champagne, and we got out.'. But then again, in the stories about dozens of attacks, counter-attacks and nightly patrols, one can feel the Jünger's fascination with the sheer immensity and impact of all-out, total war. Rarely if ever is this motivated by patriotism, in fact there's hardly any motivation at all: the how and the what of being in the trenches for four years are there, but there is no attempt to consider the why. There is no hatred towards the French or the British for being French or British, they are quite simply 'the enemy' and that suffices for the warrior in Jünger.

And an awesome warrior he must have been, the youngest ever recipient of 'pour le Mérite' (the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order until the end of the First World War). But here again, he does not revel in this, he does not glorify it, he just describes what he does. And he is definitely not 'a moron with lots of courage'. On the contrary, in between the scenes of brutal and merciless fighting, Jünger describes in the same economical manner how he feels and does so with astonishing honesty and powerful imagery, as when he describes waiting for an impending attack as 'a scene that grips the spirit like some terrible silent ceremonial that portends human sacrifice'.

The dedication of Jünger's memoir is 'To the fallen', and if only for the millions of those we should all read this book and never forget.
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VINE VOICEon 14 March 2004
This new translation by Michael Hoffman is an absorbing account of Junger's experiences in the trenches of the Western Front. His survival against all the odds and the true random violence of trench warfare is vividly conveyed. The terror, the courage, the comradeship are all palpable. I recommend this book without reservation not only to those interested in the First World War but to anyone interested in Man's ability to withstand almost unspeakable horror.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 January 2014
Junger's reputation has gone before him, on account of his alleged dalliances with the Nazis in the 1930s. Don't let any of that put you off. If you are interested in the Great War, then it is a must-read.

The book - or least this edition of it - is no fascist screed. But neither is it a pacifist tome. He does not glorify war but neither does he disparage it. It is a matter-of-fact memoir of a man who spent the best part of four years on the front and experienced a gamut of emotions, boredom, terror and exultation, grief, elation. The author was wounded several times, twice seriously. His final wound in the closing weeks of the conflict ended his participation in the war. But had the war lasted beyond November 1918, he would undoubtedly have gone straight back to the front.

He clearly enjoyed many aspects of his experience. Because the narrative is free of introspection he offers no clue as to his motivations, personal or political, other than the sense of a consummate professional who is simply doing his job. There is an absence of preaching or moralising - for or against the war. He makes little reference to his family (aside from his brother, who also fought). The account focusses on trying to record as much experience as honestly as possible. The merit of this is that it gives a convincing account of life on the front line, without hyperbole or histrionics (incidentally, most of his fallen comrades are killed by artillery, or in small-scale trench raids; the massed frontal assault against enemy lines, the stereotypical perception of trench warfare, he experiences only once, in 1918).

The narrative is not overwrought or crass - the prose is terse and economical but the horrors of war are not dimmed thereby. But clearly there was more to his experiences than horror and he is capable of exquisite sensitivity on occasion, like his reminiscence of the dead British boy solider, who appeared in his dreams after the war. The state `takes away our responsibility but not our remorse'. Another occasion he spares a British officer's life after the latter shows him a picture of his family on a terrace. Nonetheless, he kills enemy warriors without much expression of compunction but with no great malice either. It was nothing personal.

Our perceptions of the Great War have to some extent been shaped by authors like Sassoon and Owen. Their literary qualities are not in doubt. But whether their reported perceptions of the conflict were typical of the average fighting man is a moot point (to know this for sure, we would have to have access to millions of memoirs). One assumes that plenty of men, on all sides of the conflict, like Junger, fought and killed and then when it was all over went back to civvy street and got on with their lives, without plunging into nihilism or extremism or even suffering crippling long-term trauma. How typical was Junger's experience? It is certainly a question worth asking.
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on 16 March 2013
"Storm of Steel" is a first-hand account of the First World War by Ernst Jünger, a soldier and an officer of the German army. Participant of most of the famous Battles on the Western Front and an eyewitness of all the new deadly inventions of modern warfare, this true story shows the sharpest end of the First World War: trench warfare by storm troopers.

Jünger's simple writing style and use of words (similar to Remarque's "All quiet on the western front"- ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT) increases the impact of the story and scenes. On one hand it is very descriptive, yet on the other hand it leaves the reader enough room for his own imagination. In addition, the actual story is engrossing with the writer participating in famous battles, leading long forgotten skirmishes, being exposed to danger constantly and having numerous brushes with death. As a result, "Storm of Steel" is a raw eyewitness account of one of the great tragedies of the twentieth century as well as a timeless masterpiece from a literary point of view. It left me in shock and awe from page one and will stay with me for a long time.

Unfortunately, the book and its writer have been politicized in the twentieth century and as a result "Storm of Steel" has not always had the recognition it deserves. To be clear this book has not been written to be an anti-war statement. This is the story of a young man who saw the war as a great existential adventure, or as Jünger states himself, "men of quality emphasized the savagery of war and transfigured it at the same time: an objective relish of danger". Highly recommended.
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on 26 September 2008
This is one of those books I could not put down - every time I have read it! Simply outstanding. Enlightening to read the story from the other side. I understand there are some people who doubt it's complete authenticity. I found it absolutely gripping. This is a must for anyone reading about WWI. Probably the best book I've read on WWI.
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