Remarque, Erich Maria
Remarque served as a soldier in the German army in the First World War. The war disgusted him, and he wrote All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), one of the great anti-war books of all time. The writing is simple and completely gripping. It tells the story of Paul Bäumer and his friends, young German men who are encouraged by their teachers and parents to fight in the war. They very quickly become disillusioned, and the novel describes the real conditions of trench warfare in graphic and horrible detail. Although the story is told in the first person, it is not an autobiography. Remarque based the book on the experiences of people he knew. He also drew some of his material from the very first novel to criticize the war, Under Fire (Le Feu), published by Henri Barbusse in 1916. The original translation of All Quiet by A. W. Wheen is still the best. When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, All Quiet was one of the books they burned. It is a brilliant novel and still a great read.