Professor’s Comments: This is a good example of a book review typically required in history classes. It is unbiased and thoughtful. The Student explains the book and the time in which it was written in great detail, without retelling the entire story… a pitfall that many first time reviewers may experience.
All Quiet on the Western Front is the story of Paul Baumer’s service as a soldier in the German army during World War I. Paul and his classmates enlist together, share experiences together, grow together, share disillusionment over the loss of their youth, and the friends even experience the horrors of death-- together. Though the book is a novel, it gives the reader insights into the realities of war. In this genre, the author is free to develop the characters in a way that brings the reader into the life of Paul Baumer and his comrades. The novel frees the author from recounting only cold, sterile facts. This approach allows the reader to experience what might have been only irrelevant facts if presented in a textbook.
This book is written from a perspective foreign to most Americans. Historically, American students are taught from a single perspective, that being the American perspective. This approach to history (the single perspective) dehumanizes the enemy and glorifies the Americans. We tend to forget that those on the opposing side are also human.
The author's main theme centers not only on the loss of innocence experienced by Paul and his comrades, but the loss of an entire generation to the war. Paul may be a German, but he may just as easily be French, English, or American. The soldiers of all nations watched their co...
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...e preceding reasons, all college students should read the book. The book will captivate the educated mind, and most importantly, will cause that mind to think and to question why things happen as they do.
Remarque also tried to teach his audience. Written within a decade of the end of the war, the book calls on those who forfeited their youth to the war not to allow time to hide what had happened. Time may heal all wounds, but the cause of those wounds must not be forgotten, nor allowed to repeat itself. The author is; however, pragmatic enough to realize that all will not learn the lesson; nevertheless, those who are willing to learn it will discover that the story has been told before, and without their intervention, it is doomed to be told again.
Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. New York: Ballantine Books, 1984.
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