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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Only the Dead Have Seen the end of War"
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...
Published on 28 July 2009 by Bob Salter

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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a vintage edition - 'Nothing New On The Western Front'
Not thinking or knowing and with a name like Vintage I heedlessly purchased this edition, believing that I would be reading the original translation - the one closest in time, in sympathies, in a general approach to life - simply the translation most likely to preserve a feeling of the early 20th century.

At the beginning Brian Murdoch generously acknowledges...
Published on 27 Aug. 2010 by the antiquary


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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and thought provoking, 21 July 2001
By 
Mr. R. N. Lock "Ricky Lock" (bexley, kent United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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When I read this brilliant book I felt so many emotions, but I suppose the underlying emotion was sadness. In many ways all schoolboys should be made to read this book, for it depicts war as it is, without all the glamour and hero worship that some books and films portray. I thought birdsong was a great book showing how people change from a traumatic experience, such as World War 1. But all quiet on the western front leaves it for dead in this area in my opinion. I will never forget this incredible educational and wonderful book. I am so glad it was written from the German perspective, because it shows us that underneath all our exterior frames we are the same; we have the same fears and dreams. My last words about this book are read it if you dare the experience will live with you forever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A generation of men destroyed by the war, 25 July 2010
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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In this rightly called classic anti-war novel, E.M. Remarque depicts forcefully the brutal awakening of a group of young soldiers in World War I.

Failed education, breakdown of ideals
The preachers glorified the Fatherland, the romantic character of war. For them, duty to one's country should be the greatest thing. But, they concealed the real interests behind the war, the rulers, the war profiteers and their acolytes.
The first death in war shattered all belief that authority was a synonym for greater insight and more human wisdom. The recruits immediately felt that the army leaders considered them as beasts, training them as `circus-ponies'.
The romantic war turned into butchery: `if we were to give morphia to everyone, we would have to had tubs full.'

Universal comradeship and the ideal solution
In direct confrontations, the soldiers came to understand that the enemies were in fact brothers: `Comrade, I did not want to kill you. But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction ... Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours? If we threw away these rifles and this uniform you could be my brother.'
The ideal solution is to consider war `as a bullfight. The ministers and generals of the countries (in war), armed with clubs, can have it out among themselves. Whoever survives, his country wins. That would be more simple and just than this arrangement, where the wrong people do the fighting.'

Promise not fulfilled
`How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when a culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood. I see how people are set against one another and foolishly, obediently slay one another. I see that the keenest of brains of the world invent weapons and words to make it yet more refined and enduring. I promise you, comrade. It shall never happen again!'

Strong scenes and metaphors
About war: `three enemy trenches with their garrison, all stiff as though stricken with apoplexy, with blue faces, dead.'
About war and peace: `We hear the muffled rumble of the front only as a distant thunder, bumblebees droning by quite drown it. Around us stretches the flowery meadow.'
About death: `These nails will continue to grow like fantastic cellar plants. They twist themselves into corkscrews and grow and with them the hair on the decaying skull, just like grass in good soil.'

Unforgettably, E. M. Remarque evoked in a highly emotional language the tragic fate of a lost generation. But also, it was `of no account'. The war machine continued to rumble all over the world.

I also highly recommend the hard-hitting and very insightful memoirs from the other side of the channel written by Robert Graves in `Goodbye to All That.'
These books stand in sharp contrast with `the ice cold hedonist attitude within plain Barbarism' (T. Mann) expressed in the texts of Ernst Jünger about the same war.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars only non-football book i couldnt put down, 3 Aug. 2004
By A Customer
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I had to try and find a novel to do for my english higher and after strugling to find something I could get really into, I came across this. I had done WWI in history and had some background knowlodge however this book gave me atotally new perspective to the war after learning the suffering not just the allies but the germans also suffered. Paul Baumer shows the trajedy and mind numbing monotony of trench warfare, as this war turned in to a mechanised killing machine through the use of poison gas, machine guns etc. Before I read this novel I thought war was just a necessity needed to take out tyrants however now I have seen the horrors a front line soldier has to endure. Remarque brilliantly shows a generation destroyed in the trenches. This novel is simply a must read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Literature From The 20th Century, 11 Jan. 2005
By 
I first encountered this book by accident as i desperately sought to find a book on which to base some English A-Level coursework on. i read the synopsis on the back of the book, thought i would read a few pages and then look at some other books. i read the first few pages and became intruiged. i read a few more and become engrossed. i read the next chapter and became transfixed. that same day i had read the whole book and i had changed profoundly.
over the next few days i feverently divulged the book, consumed it through to the core of its values. i gorged with morbid fascination at its humility and bluntness. the book, quite simply is a masterpiece, and easily nestles itself up in the literary hierarchy with any of George Orwell's masterpieces.
in this way, it is similar to George Orwell. it is dark, placid, dry, hopeless, simple and complicated. it encompasses everything from the futility of War (inadvertantly touching upon philosophical debates on how we can go to war), conflicts of the generations, the true price of life and of course; love, death and growing up. the book follows primarily a young man named Baumer, a nineteen-year-old 'boy' who (as with his band of school-boy friends) have been caught up in events that supercede all of their lives.
during it's sombre march through Baumer's 'War-Life', you read of his friends one-by-one getting killed or injured. you read of a young man coping with life outside the theoretical view of his schooling. you read of a brotherhood of man that encompasses all men equally, and Baumer's final realisation that he cannot simply assimilate any longer to the World outside of the dank, wretched trenches.
the real 'Gem' of the book is the last chapter. i have read many hundreds of books-both fact and fiction, yet, i have never encountered such a moving chapter as this. the emotion and depressive mood floods out of the paper pages like a bolt of lightning through your head. it will leave you reeling. it will bring floods of tears to your eyes. although this is fiction, it will remind you that this is simply one story out of the nine million souls that lost their lives in this war. mind-blowing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a review of the tape, 13 Sept. 2001
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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The unabridged version of "All Quiet on the Western Front" has 5 cassettes and takes considerably longer than the movie to unfold. You have time to think in-between the words. If this is the version with translation by A.W. Wheen and Narrated by Frank Muller then you are in for a treat. As Frank even in his monotone way makes you feel that these thoughts are coming from your head.
The cover has a picture that actually relates to a section in the book. I spent some time in the U.S. Army and what is really weird is except for the technology, I can relate to the people and attitudes in the book. He describes training, leaves, antics in the front, and comradeship. If you spent anytime in the military you should be able to extrapolate many things that he just implies.
Anyway even if you have read the book or seen the movies the tape is an added dimension that should not be missed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'it must never happen again', 10 Jan. 2012
Remarque's novel, based on his own experiences at the front, is a classic piece of war literature, importantly providing for all of us British readers a German perspective on the bloodshed and even more importantly than that a voice of dissent from the trenches. It is this that made the book so notorious in his native Germany, that encouraged the Nazis to add it to the list of books to be consigned to the flames, and that makes it such an important novel today as we approach a century since the war to end all wars began. The novel is narrated by Paul Bäumer, whom we follow with a few of his school friends as they are encouraged to enlist and are sent to the front to fight. Instilled with homespun rhetoric and the idealism of their teachers and elders it isn't long before the realities of conflict alter their view. Not only has schooling provided them with little of practical use in a war zone ('Nobody taught us at school how to light a cigarette in a rainstorm, or how it is possible to make a fire even with soaking wet wood - or that the best place to stick a bayonet is into the belly, because it can't get jammed in there, the way it can in the ribs.') but all of the certainties, their very reasons for fighting in the first place quickly fall away.

What we gain from the narrative is not so much specifics about the military campaign (I was never entirely sure where I was along the western front, nor which specific battles where being described) but an insight into what it felt like to be one of the confused, young men in those trenches. The different sounds of the various munitions, the poor conditions, the new values that make tobacco or rare foodstuffs worth more than all the money in the world, the camaraderie, the humour, the landscape where a hundred yards of brown, churned-up earth can contain the whole world.

For these young men who 'had just begun to love the world and to love being in it' the effect of being forced 'to shoot at it' is an almost immediate alienation. Isolated from civilisation, brutalised by fighting, numbed by bombardment, the idea of progress disappears to be replaced by nothing other than the belief in war itself. When that happens even the terror of fighting recedes into the background; these once green recruits find themselves feeling like experienced soldiers, amazed in turn by the inexperience and inadequate training of the next batch coming through. There is also time for other highlights to shine through; the men's visit to a house over the river to see three French women, their revenge on the brutal corporal Himmelstoss, and Kat's frequent ability to scavenge food whenever required including a goose at one point which he and Paul roast. This last event provides a moment for Paul to reflect on the unlikely intimacy of war.

'What does he know about me? What do I know about him? Before the war we wouldn't have had a single thought in common - and now here we are, sitting with a goose roasting in front of us, aware of our existence and so close to each other that we can't even talk about it.'

Perhaps the defining moment of the novel is Bäumer's trip home on leave, which is almost unbearably moving. There are tears as soon as he walks through the door but the awkwardness of his renewed contact with his family is brilliantly described by Remarque. His mother is dying from cancer and the two of them have so much they might say to each other but can't, his father doesn't know how to speak to his son of his experiences and Bäumer finds that the place where he grew up is no longer a one where he feels he belongs. For fellow bibliophiles there is a telling moment when Bäumer goes through the book collection that once gave him so much joy and finds that he can't read any of them - 'Words, words, words - they can't reach me.'

The true impact of this trip home is felt when he returns to the fray. First comes the return of fear, particularly in one scene that finds him stuck in a shell hole during a bombardment, paralysed by that fear of death, rescued finally by hearing voices in the trench behind him ('Those voices mean more than my life, more than mothering and fear, they are the strongest and most protective thing that there is: they are the voices of my pals'). Then comes his first real engagement with the reality of fighting when he kills a French soldier in hand to hand combat and watches him die slowly. Realising how little separates them he makes a vow.

'Your turn today, mine tomorrow. But if I get out of all this, pal, I'll fight against the things that wrecked it for both of us: you life and my -? Yes, my life too. I promise you, pal. It must never happen again.'

This might have led to Bäumer becoming some kind of crusader for reform or political settlement post-war but as his friends are slowly picked off by Death a hopelessness sets in and we see how Paul has been utterly destroyed by his experience. All the more reason to make sure that we heed the vow he made, for this great war novel is of course a great anti-war novel. One that retains a devastating impact and fully deserves its classic status.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 23 Oct. 2010
This was in the required reading list for my 'First World War in Literature' module and I can't say I was overly excited about it; war holds a kind of morbid fascination, but I thought it was going to be difficult to read about life on the front lines as written by somebody who had experienced it (before being translated). And it was an emotionally difficult book. Pretty much from the start, we are thrown into the horrors of war as we watch Paul's friends die, from the first few pages up until some of the very last.

Though this is a short novel, it had a huge effect on me as a reader. I felt sympathy for Paul as he watched these people die, as he went home on leave and found how difficult it was to return to the horrors of war, and through the few moments of peace he found that were too good to last. Paul seemed to be losing spirit from the time he returned home on leave and the end of the novel raises the question of whether death is always the negative it seems; he has lost his friends, he can't be himself around his family and there seems to be very little chance that he would be able to function back in the 'real world'.

One of the main things which stuck me about this novel was how it could have been a representation of any of the armies fighting. Aside from the names of the soldiers, and the very few direct references to the enemies' nationalities, this could have been a group of young boys from any country: scared, away from home and following orders. I assume that this was one of the points of the story: there are a few mentions within it about how the wrong men are fighting, but the skill with which it is done is nothing short of amazing.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this to just about anyone. Although the content can be a little difficult to stomach at times, the words used are deceptively simple and I believe this is a book which everyone should read to urge them to understand the havoc that war can cause.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for humanity, 22 Jan. 2010
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
A true classic war story, All Quiet on the Western Front is the story of one young German soldier's time in the trenches of World War I. It's told in an extremely readable, matter of fact style by Paul Baumer, who is a likeable and believable central character. The descriptions of his fellow soldiers and the camerarderie they shared are moving and even humourous. I enjoyed all of the characters, and the places and expreiences are equally well conveyed. From the mud and barbed wire of the Front, with shells whistling around the ears, to the military hospital, to Baumer's home town; the reader feels they have visited them all.

The story confronts not just the day to day horror of war but the longer term impact on the young men who fight in it - Baumer often refers to himself and his friends as a lost generation, ruined by the war, and finds it impossible to imagine himself fitting into a world without war. Perhaps the most moving, heartbreaking scenes are those when Baumer goes on home leave and finds himself much changed. There's also a real tearjerker of an ending, as you'd expect from a novel which epitomises one of the most terrible conflicts of recent times.

This version of the book has notes at the back for students or reading groups, which I didn't particularly look at but I suppose would be useful for someone who wanted to use it for a group discussion.

Overall a very powerful story and one which transcends time and nationality - most of the time I forgot the narrator was a German - he could have been any young soldier on any side. I would highly recommend it as one of those books everyone should read - but unlike some of the 'should reads' of life, this one is actually a really good book as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wrong people are fighting each other, 21 Jan. 2010
By 
After reading Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulkes which I was told was a "must read before you die" book I was lead to this book. A W Wheen was the original translator but this a 1993 translation by Brian Murdoch.

Interestingly the title "Im Westen nichts Neues" published 1929 has a literal translation of " Nothing New on the Western Front".

Although told through the eyes of Paul Baumer a fictional charactor he has obviously been created from the experiences and memories of the author Erich Maria Remarque. There is no soft introduction gently introducing the reader to the front line in this book, no you start page 1 in the trenches and that really sets the tone for the book. Page after page you are spared nothing and is very much a running commentary of events as they unfold. Unlike Birdsong I never knew the location of Baumer or the year we were in, but this did not disminish my enjoyment. Infact it doesnt even feel German, young men who leave school and are heavily influenced and persuaded to join the army sounds so familiar.

I was interested to read of the war from a German point of view, and Im glad that I did. Young men, a huge loss of life is a tragedy no matter what nationality.

This is an extract p.29 describing how the troops would like all declarations of war to be made;

A festival with music and entrance tickets., like they have at bullfights. Then the ministers and generals of the two countries would have to come into the ring wearing boxing shorts and rubber truncheons and have a go at each other. Whoever is left on his feet, his country is declared the winner. That would be simpler and fairer than things out here, where the wrong people are fighting each other.

I found this very moving, even staring in the face of death, these young men could see the pointlessness of war and the madness of such huge loss of life.

I enjoyed Birdsong because I thought I needed to wrap a story around the war to appeal, but I have enjoyed AQOTWF for its stripped back approach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing about the reality of warfare, 6 Sept. 2010
This is one of the best books ever written about the terrors and futility of war. Remarque experienced trench-warfare as a young German soldier in north-eastern France in 1917-18 and wrote the novel ten years later, but he was already writing poetry even before he was conscripted. It is this poet's sensitivity that makes the book so brilliant. It is not specifically an anti-war book (though it was banned after the Nazis came to power) but rather it highlights the stupidity of war, the senselessness of all the slaughter and suffering. It is also full of insights about life in general.

One of the most moving passages, despite all the descriptions of mayhem in the trenches, is when Paul (the narrator) returns home on a few days leave, only to find that his mother is dying of cancer and his father is working all hours to pay for her treatment, even though she is unlikely to survive. You could say that the book is about the futility of life, not just war, but that makes it sound depressing, which it isn't particularly. There are lots of positive bits about friendship and humanity, about how the young soldiers make their lives bearable: 'We seize every opportunity ... terror finishes up cheek by jowl with tomfoolery, in stark juxtaposition and without any midway stage'. There are strong flashes of humour to brighten the darkness. A true classic; highly recommend.
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All Quiet on the Western Front (New Windmills)
All Quiet on the Western Front (New Windmills) by Erich Maria Remarque (Hardcover - 6 Nov. 1970)
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