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Monday, 15 February 2016

All Quiet on the Western Front

Book Title: All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque
Publisher: Ballantine

One of the world's most loved and cherished books around the First World War, All Quiet on the Western Front is a testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army of World War I. These young men become enthusiastic soldiers, but their world of duty, culture, and progress breaks into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches.  

Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the hatred that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another, if only he can come out of the war alive.

A rather short book, the narrative is still strong and wholesome enough to deliver the punch of narrating a real life incident. Every moment in the trenches, every sharp contrast with what life would have been, the thoughtful contrast between policy rhetoric and actual on the ground hostilities and the myriad demands that war imposes on the lives of the innocent remain as true today as they were, about a hundred years ago. 

The book is a very humane  narrative of what war is, and what goes on in the minds of those waging it. It is not about glorifying war, battle or fighting, or even bloodshed. It does not take or even justify sides. It just paints a powerful picture of how war indiscriminately destroys.