52 in 52 Week 42: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
"This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war."
This is one of those books that I think EVERYONE should read, and I think Hitler should have read it before he started World War II. It puts such a face on war from the perspective of our ENEMY in that war, the Germans! They were young men who were spurred on by older adults (in this case their teacher at the school they all attended) with lofty ideals but without any experience in the HORRORS of war!
For us lads of eighteen they ought to have been mediators and guides to the world of maturity . . . to the future . . . in our hearts we trusted them. The idea of authority, which they represented, was associated in our minds with a greater insight and a more humane wisdom. But the first death we saw shattered this belief. We had to recognize that our generation was more to be trusted than theirs. . . . The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces.This book would make anybody a pacifist!
Comrade, I did not want to kill you. . . . But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. . . . I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony—Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?
I LOVED this book and will probably put it in my top ten. It is so compelling. The author makes amazing observations of people too.
Here is a link to a review that is much better than mine and has many quotes from the book: https://thenerdreports.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/review-all-quiet-on-the-western-front/comment-page-1/#comment-202