Foreign Policy Book ReviewWorld War I took place in the early 1900’s. The United States entered the war late, trying not to get involved with foreign affairs. In Erich Maria Remarque’s WWI novel All Quiet on the Western Front, we see the war through the German point of view of a 19 year-old Paul Baumer.As more and more young German nationalists are brain-washed into battle, more and more lives are altered forever. Once in the war, the young soldiers realize that war isn’t at all as glorious as they had believed.
They continuously live in fear and unfathomable doubt. One thing I liked about this book was that the heroin dies in the end; not because of animosity towards the main character but because it didn’t end in an archetypal happy ending. It felt more real than same old story we’ve seen over and over again where the main character sees all his friends die yet somehow survives every battle.
One thing I learned from was that it really was terrifying to be at war during a militaristic industrial revolution. New weapons were constantly being brought into the war, and no one knew how to defend themselves against them. In modern day we have plans and defense systems for anything and everything, but they hadn’t yet seen tanks or machine guns. Conditions were horrible in the trenches and people went mad every other day. The thing I liked most about the book, however, was that it was written from the point of view of a German soldier. In America we hardly ever see any war through anyone else’s eyes other than those of another patriotic American. I thought this feature did well in showing that, no matter what country, each soldier differs little from any other. It is the nation that has the problem, and the soldiers are sent in to settle the dispute sometimes not knowing what that may be. They asked the same questions of their government that we asked of ours. The only thing I didn’t like was it was a little confusing at times because of his writing style. I often confused characters and events, but that can be said of any story. I would definitely recommend this book in the future because it’s different than other novels we read in the same ways I explained that I like it. It brought a new twist tot he average war novel. The story flowed pretty well, and the sensory details were very good. I think that this plot would make a great movie, so it has to be a great story. Though it has been written that war has changed and is not the honorable adventure it was once concieved to be, that same idea was personalized by the author. He gave more emphasis on the fears and struggles on each individual soldier instead of an army or nation. I saw death through Remarque’s words and my outlook upon war has been altered by his message.
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