I must admit, it has been awhile since I read this book, but I was thinking about it today. It was probably the second book I ever read that made me cry. I remember sitting in a friend's house, bawling my eyes out and hoping no one would come in until I got myself under control.
Though I have read other war accounts, both fictional and non, I think no other can equal this one for its grace and beauty as it describes the horror of a war. Grace and beauty aren't the normal adjectives people use for war books, but I think that is why this one is so effective. Gore does make a point, but it also desensitizes the reader. This is where most modern books, and almost ever movie get it wrong, in my opinion. We need less desensitizing and anger and more love, compassion and beauty.
For a more personal look at the "War to End All Wars" (doesn't that phrase make you want to weep in its innocence and hope?) look at this blog. http://wwar1.blogspot.com/ These are the personal letters a British soldier sent home to his family. His grandson has been posting them in chronological order, matching 90 years to the day as much as possible. It is a wonderful project. It makes me wish I had more access to my Grandfather's records of his time in WWII. We don't give these men enough credit for coming home and leading such quiet, unremarkable lives. The struggles of the current veterans show what an amazing accomplishment it is. One day a year to honor them seems insufficient.
All Quiet on the Western Front. Erich Maria Remarque.