Thursday, December 20, 2018

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Ten seasoned veterans were furloughed from the Base Hospital for rifle practice at Lance Corporal Jensen's quarters.  They told numerous war stories, and make the following comments:

Charlie:  Easy grade - the perfect novel:  A

Karl:  It's pretty clear why All Quiet on the Western Front has been on high school reading lists for over 50 years and why Bob Dylan, in his acceptance letter to the Nobel Prize committee listed it as one of his three most influential books. Grade:  A

Ron B:  I thought it was a good book, posed many questions which are still relevant today:  A

Jack F:  I read it first when I returned from Vietnam.  I appreciated it more at age 32 than I would have at age 18.  The second time around, it made a big impact on me.  I consider it an important piece of literature - it provides insight into how wars affect those who fight them and the marks they can leave on an entire generation. The writing style is straightforward and uncomplicated. Remarque's word choice and sentence structure never leave any doubt about what he means. A

Mike:  I kept looking for things that would bring the grade down - for example, the language of the German troops was cultured, and certainly missing a saltiness found among troops in combat.  But as I read on, I admired the way Remarque covered each chapter as a different vignette, with pathos and interest.  Well done!  A

Keith:  I have three comments which have little to do with the book:  1) Van Clausewitz has provided the phrase, "The Fog of War" re dealing with the uncertainly of battle.  In "The Things They Carried" we saw that quite a bit.  2) We as a nation always have to be fighting a war.  We seem to be only 'happy' if we are engaged in a war.  3) Why are we so interested in war?  One out of every three books we read is about war.  4) There are no winners or losers in war, only survivors.  I found the book and its subject frustrating.  B

Tom G:  Pretty much everything has been said.  Remarque goes up a notch in my estimation knowing that he had an affair with Hedy Lamar - an actress of little talent but great beauty.  Now:  what does 'the greatest war novel" mean?  The writing didn't blow me away, but he handles the subject matter well, in terms of importance.  A

Ken G:  I read my wife's copy 10 years ago - it had so many notes in the margin that for the Book Club, I ordered a new clean copy.  Ten years ago I found this an eye opener.  Reading it for the second time, still an A

Rob E:  Very moving, captured my attention.  It made me think:  how do people survive?  I appreciated the humor and the animosity toward the brass above them.  I was moved by this book:  lots of clever, thought-provoking lines.  A

Dick J:  I thought it was a great book, extremely well written.  I have a copy with numerous comments in the book.  Warm peach cobbler for all!  A

And hanging on the edge of a shell crater:
I was impressed by the book, although it left me a bit depressed, especially the death of the narrator one month before the Armistice. The book is clearly a classic war chronicle. Harari describes this book as the first great humanist war novel because it accurately portrays war from the soldier’s point of view in opposition to monarchical or religious fealty.
I apologize for missing the meeting. I have come down with an infection that needs to be diagnosed. I will miss the comments of war seasoned members about their war experiences in battle.
My grade is A-
   - Bob Simon

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