All Quiet on the Western Front is a saying we hear from time to time. It is also a book and I was delighted when a blogger Elysia offered to share her thoughts and feelings about it with my readers.
“All Quiet is a book that follows four 19 year old boys who join the German Army straight out of school and they soon find out that the War is not as glorious as they were lead to believe. We see the highs and the lows that these boys and their fellow soldiers face during World War 1 and we are privy to the horrors that the German army were facing at the hands of the Allies. We follow Paul and his company (B Company) as they navigate the trenches and find themselves not recognising the boys they left behind as the war changed them. We see the young boys quickly had to become men in order to survive not only the shelling but the way of life on the Western Front.
My favourite quote from the book is ‘a generation destroyed by war – even those who survived the shelling.’ I think that this quote is proven time and time again and we see those that survived, even only for a few chapters, suffer and become frightened by simple things. We know, at least from a British history student point of view, that the British soldiers that came back from World War 1 suffering from shell shock and became disillusioned with life back at home. In All Quiet, Paul goes home and struggles to be a 19 year old boy again, he can’t shake the way the war has changed him. We can see that the German soldiers suffered just as much as the British did.
Being British, we are taught that the Germans were the bad guys and that we were fighting to stop the horrors that they were inflicting on the British soldiers. But this book shows, from a German point of view, that the Allies were the bad guys. This is something that is not acknowledged in British history and I believe it is something that should be talked about. To me, All Quiet is a book that makes you examine the things that you have been taught and seeing from a different point of view – ‘the enemy’ – makes you really think that in World War 1, everyone suffered. It doesn’t depend on which side you were on, World War 1 ruined lives.
This book was forced upon me in A-Level English and I’m so glad it was. If you’re a history nut or even just have an interest in the way people on the other side of the war lived, this is definitely the book for you. It’s got heartache, hope and at some moments, a little bit of joy. We follow these boys as we learn all about a generation that was ruined by war and this book really makes you think and re-assess everything you thought you knew about the Germans in World War 1. I would whole heartedly recommend this book to everyone.”
You can find the reviewer’s blog at https://becomingelysia.wordpress.com/