15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A literary classic,
This review is from: Storm of Steel (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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.