Genre: war fiction
Length: 291 pages
Setting: Germany during WWI
Interest: The kids have been reading about WWI for American History Club. I realized I didn’t know too much about WWI and decided to read this classic.
Summary: Paul Baumer, the narrator, is a solider in the German army. Throughout the book, he describes his experience on the front line with a group of solider friends. They endure bombardments with little cover, minimal food, and injuries which sadly often lead to death. Baumer gets leave at one point and feels completely out of place back in his home village. He also wonders what he (and any of his surviving classmates) will do when the war is over since they don’t have a job or even a wife to return to. They’ve become men during the horrors of war.
Final thoughts: A very moving book. I can see why it is a classic. I kept forgetting the narrator was German, since his experience seemed to stand in for any soldier on the Western Front. The Allies finally just wore out the Germans. The Germans had the will to win, but ran out of soldiers and supplies.
I had thought about using this book as our last American History Club reading, but I’m glad I didn’t. It was a bit too graphic in the description of injuries. There was very little description of killing, but that was because most of the killing happened from far away.
I couldn’t decide while I was reading the book whether or not I wanted the narrator to survive the war. He had many close misses throughout the book. He experienced such horrors at such a young age that he could never fit back into civilian society. I found the author’s choice quite appropriate.
Title comes from: In the last section of the book, the army report for the day was “all quiet on the Western Front”.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 81/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and a classic about war for my Back to the Classics Challenge
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