Paul Baumer and his teenage classmates sign up as recruits to serve in the German ranks of World War I, only to have their youth dashed against the rocks. The years trudge on and the war is unending. Paul wonders what sort of nations turn their own sons against the sons of their enemies, because he sees himself in the men he is forced to shoot down again and again.

A very intimate and personal account of a fictional German solider and his friends. On the surface, it’s the first real tale of the hardship of war, the physical and mental stress of being on the front line, and the distance the war creates between a soldier, his family, and his civilian life. As an audiobook listen, I often found myself mesmerized by the horror, frozen in place, lost in the story.

It’s difficult to imagine the world in which this book was published, in which young men signed up with pride to serve their countries. Theirs was a world of fear, hunger, watching your friends die, where your own death is but a toss of the dice. A fantastic story that I don’t want to read again for the despair.

“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 (its) shells, were destroyed by the war.”