I just opened this up to see how long it is and ended up reading the first chapter. I figured from this I had a much better chance of finishing it by the end of the year than I did Guns of August, which is excellently written and all, but long. All Quiet is all the things you probably expect it to be: a grim story of all too brief lives in the trenches of World War I, the violence, the senselessness, the boredom, the horror, and moments of enjoyment seized when possible. I’m not sure anything – short of sharing the experience – could paint it so vividly and while Erich Maria Remarque was writing about German soldiers, I’m sure many men on the opposite side had the same experience. This was one of those that I’ve heard about forever and knew I should read, but really didn’t want to – and that was a mistake. It is surprisingly engaging. It is so easy to identify with Paul and his reactions. Whether it’s the matter-of-factness of the style or some other factor, I don’t know, but it is clear how a generation of young men were destroyed whether or not they survived the war physically.
These pictures are British, but otherwise, could be taken from the book.
So, I have Karen at Books and Chocolate to thank for me finally reading this and while I’m not sure that with a book like this ‘enjoy’ is the correct verb, I’m definitely glad I read it at last. It is the second to last book for her Back to the Classics challenge and the last of the required books, so technically, I’ve completed this, but I still want to read the Historical Fiction Classic.