Saturday, September 25, 2010

All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

”AllAll Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
narrated by Frank Muller

Copyright: 1994 Recorded Books
Duration: 6 hours, 55 minutes unabridged
Genres: classic fiction, military
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews
Click the image to visit the publisher’s website.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Paul Bäumer is just 19 years old when he and his classmates enlist. They are Germany’s Iron Youth who enter the war with high ideals and leave it disillusioned or dead. As Paul struggles with the realities of the man he has become, and the inscrutable world to which he must return, he is led like a ghost of his former self into the war’s final hours. All Quiet is one of the greatest war novels of all time, an eloquent expression of the futility, hopelessness and irreparable losses of war.

©1958 Erich Maria Remarque (P)1994 Recorded Books, LLC

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: When I started listening to audiobooks years ago, All Quiet on the Western Front was one of the first that I picked up from the library, and it is still one of my favorites. Erich Maria Remarque actually was a soldier in the German army during World War I, as can be seen in his detailed descriptions.

Rather than romanticize war as many writers have done, Remarque wants us to understand the harsh reality. As he states at the beginning of his novel:

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.

Remarque goes into great detail to describe the conditions that the soldiers lived in: muddy trenches, filthy clothing slowly deteriorating to rags, bunkers infested with rats and lice, sub-standard equipment, and never enough food to go around. His descriptions of battle will almost make you feel like you’re there, like you want to do nothing but get out. Be warned: this novel is not for the faint of heart.

As Americans, we typically look at the Germans as “the bad guys” in both world wars. All Quiet on the Western Front shows us that the young men who fought for Germany were no different than the American soldiers, or the French, or the British. They fought for their country because they thought it was the right thing to do, although most of them didn’t even know why they were fighting. Remarque’s incredible novel shows us that in war there really are no good guys or bad guys, just people, usually young people, doing what they think is right, or what they are told to do.

As always, Frank Muller’s narration was perfect. He has a relaxed, conversational style that pulls you into the story. It feels more like he is telling the story rather than just reading it. He has a way of reading that really makes you feel what the author is trying to say. He really was a remarkable narrator.

Muller was a classically trained actor who found his greatest success in narrating audiobooks. As one of the first narrators hired by Recorded Books in 1979 he is a pioneer of the field and narrated hundreds of audiobooks. Even after a serious motorcycle accident in 2001 he continued as a favorite narrator of authors such as Stephen King, John Grisham, and John le Carre. Muller died in 2008 from complications of his accident, but he will always be a favorite of mine.

I highly recommend All Quiet on the Western Front. This would be an excellent audiobook for war historians, but also for anyone who needs a reminder that people are people, no matter where they are from, or what uniform they are wearing.

Rate this audiobook

The Red Badge Of Courage by Stephen Crane (Audiobook Review)
Matterhorn: A Novel Of The Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes (Audiobook Review)
Germline by T C McCarthy (Audiobook Review)

Special thanks to Carrollton Public Library for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.

No comments: