I’m so amazed by these stories. It makes me wonder how we are still willing to go to war. The horror suffered by these young men , some still barely out of their teens, is tragic. I know it’s fiction but it’s based upon actual experiences . If you hear someone talk about war in any glorious romanticized way , bash them over the head with these books.
I can still feel the claustrophobic atmosphere of those trenches. The gas. The water they had to stand in for hours on end. And knowing they all could be blown up in that hole!
It took me forever to finish them but I’m glad I did. In fact I had started and stopped reading both books previously and always gave up. It’s not an easy read.
All Quiet on the western front starts out very slowly, so that you’re drawn into these young men’s lives. If you’ve read war books before you’ll recognize all the characters right away. The idealist, the romantic, the one who outwits and finds food, clothes etc,the tragic one and so forth. You know that they can’t possibly have lives after it’s over .The lives they were meant to live is played out in this tragic war.
Pat Barker ‘s Regeneration shows you exactly what happens when these men try to go back to civic life. Again the story is tragically the same even though this is from the English side. It deals with the aftermath of life in the trenches. At the time when men were labelled “coward” for suffering PTSD , poet and anti-war protester Siegfried Sassoon and army psychologist W.H.R Rivers bring to life the hellish life in the trenches.
Both books are vivid retelling of the war. So many millions doomed. So much life wasted.