August 13th 2014
ACCP U.S. History
ACCP Book Review The Guns of August and All Quiet on the Western Front, are two very well written novels about World War I. The authors, Erich Maria Remarque and Barbara W. Tuchman, are considered to be two of the most influential authors to write about the first world war. In these two novels there are very detailed descriptions of all of the hardships and complications of the war. The rich detail that the authors put into describing the soldiers emotions and actions is impeccable. The authors use various writing techniques to get into your head and manipulate the readers thoughts. These novels show how war can easily manipulate a man’s thoughts and trigger a distinct survival mode that does not come about very easily. Fear is driven within the reader’s body throughout the rigorous events of these stories. World war I changed the world as we know it today. Many people died and most consider it to be a very gruesome time in history.
“Our thoughts are clay, they are moulded with the changes of the days;when we are resting they are good; under fire, they are dead. Fields of craters within and without.” (Remarque 271) It changed many people emotionally and physically. Many people recorded their thoughts and actions throughout the war and give us a keen knowledge as to what they experienced. In this paper I will review these two novels individually and compare and contrast them. Although these two novels are very different, they compliment each other very well.
All Quiet on the Western Front is the story of a very courageous, nineteen year old gentlemen named Paul. Paul enlists in the army because he does not know what to do with his life and wishes to make something of himself. He goes through very harsh and rigorous training and contemplates on giving up. He makes it through all of the ten weeks of training and goes off to war with his fellow soldiers. Paul didn’t realize that going to war is at all what he had thought it was. He was about to come face to face with death. He spends much time on the front and learns some very valuable lessons. For example, he learns that when it comes to fighting for something that you love, you must sacrifice what is dear to you and face the facts. “The war has ruined us for everything.” ( Remarque 87) As the days and weeks go by, he begins to become very fearful of death. He witnesses his close friends perish right before his very eyes. He begins to become very faint to what is happening around him as he feels like death is approaching him. “I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life, but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.” (Remarque 263) He was utterly disgusting and was on the verge of starvation. New recruits kept coming and going.
Dead corpses piled up around him and he began to lose all hope. His comrades began to go somewhat insane. They grew weaker and weaker until they couldn’t take it anymore. Eventually soldiers started to kill themselves because they were in such a state of moral depression from the war. He began to think to himself. Not everyone can be the hero and there are more important things in life than being one. As hope was slipping through his fingers he sat and watched as death became nearer and nearer.
I believe that Erich Remarque wrote this novel for various reasons, but the one that stuck out to me was that he wanted to portray the struggles of all the soldiers and what they went through.
This novel is important because it physically describes the nature of the war. The young men who enlisted were not aware what they were getting into. The soldiers experienced tremendous hardships throughout this war. They experienced