All Quiet On The Western Front

January 18, 2009
By Hannah Vahle, Grand Island, NE

All Quiet on the Western Front is, quite easily, the greatest war novel of all time. World War I, compared to World War II got very little press coverage...most people are still unsure what started it. All Quiet on the Western Front doesn’t bother the reader with the politics of the war, but allows us to glimpse into the common soldier’s thoughts and feelings on the horrors around him, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

The story is written by testament of Paul Baumer, our narrator, a fresh-from-high-school boy who, at only 17, enlists with all his friends for the German army, on the day of their graduation. He and his friends are overwhelmed with tales of heroism in the heat of battle, stories of glory, courage, and valor. They only see war as a huge game of goodies vs. baddies. The perfect, enthusiastic soldiers. However, after their first bombardment in the trenches, they realize that there’s nothing honorable about battle.

Throughout the book, Baumer perseveres, pulling through friends shot down before his eyes, blood spraying his face, shells exploding without cease, and extreme scarcities of food. He writes of his growing weariness of the world, of the horrors he must see and the injustices he must face. He must endure the sight of his starving mother, who scrimps pennies for weeks to have a cake when he returns home on leave, and cries when he has to leave once more. The book is truly a fine work of the view of the proletariat, and how quickly the novel of battle wears off.

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