All Quiet on the Western Front – Eric Maria Remarque’s powerful anti-war novel and Hollywood movie

anti-war movie

All Quiet on the Western Front 1930 movie still

Spotlighting Erich Maria Remarque’s engaging novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, we at Questia, the premier online research and digital library tool for students, are paying homage to five of the most  searing novels published in the 20th century. These are anti-war books profiling individuals impacted by their participation in military conflict. To honor these significant contributions, we’ve granted access to reference works and literary analyses on five of history’s most researched anti-war novels for free for the entire month!

All Quiet on The Western Front
The novel was first published in 1929, and received critical acclaim, leading to the 1930 film of the same name. The story revolves around Paul Baumer, a soldier who is encouraged by his school teacher to join the German army and fight at the start of World War I (one). Author Erich Maria Remarque mentions at the start of the novel that the book “will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”  The book focuses less on the heroic bravery associated with warfare and more on the conditions that soldiers find themselves in.  [Chambers, John Whiteclay, and David Culbert, eds. World War II, Film, and History. New York: Oxford UP, 1996. Questia. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.]

Johnny Got His Gun
An unforgettable portrait of a young soldier, Joe Bonham, who awakens in a hospital bed only to eventually realize that he’s lost his arms, legs, all of his face, ears, teeth, and tongue. His mind is fully intact, however, leaving him a prisoner of his body.  Written by famed black-listed writer, Dalton Trumbo, and published in 1939, the book became a “rallying cry” for those of the political left who opposed involvement in World War 2 (two).  [Rollins, Peter C., and John E. O'Connor, eds. Hollywood's World War I: Motion Picture Images. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular, 1997. Questia. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.]

Catch – 22
The book that introduced the phrase “Catch -22” into the English language was arguably author Joseph Heller’s most famous novel, a satirical take on the insanity of warfare and its critique of the military infrastructure and bureaucracy. The novel was first published in 1961 and follows the experience of Captain John Yossarian, a B-25 bombardier in the U.S. Air Force, serving on the island of Pianosa off the coast of Italy during World War 2 (II).  [Woodson, Jon. A Study of Joseph Heller's Catch-22: Going around Twice. New York: Peter Lang, 2001.Questia. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.]

The Red Badge of Courage
A graphic account of one man’s experience during  the American Civil War, the book tells the story of Union Army private Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Filled with shame, and longing for a “red badge of courage,” he later joins up with his regiment, leading it to battle. Written by American author, Stephen Crane, the story was first published as a novel in 1895 and received to general positive acclaim. Although Crane was born after the Civil War, his account of the civil war is known for its realism and explores themes of heroism, cowardice and indifference to nature. [Johnson, Claudia Durst. Understanding The Red Badge of Courage: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998. Questia. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.]

Slaughterhouse-Five
Author Kurt Vonnegut’s most famous satirical novel about the World War II (two) experiences of a soldier named Billy Pilgrim. Pilgrim is an ill-trained soldier, captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. The bombing of Dresden is a central event impacting Pilgrim’s mental state. He later finds himself kidnapped by extraterrestrial aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. Published in 1969, the book went on to receive critical acclaim although it became the subject of numerous attempts at censorship due to its profanity and depictions of sex.  [Marvin, Thomas F. Kurt Vonnegut: A Critical Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002. Questia. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.]

Visit Questia’s topic page on anti-war for more information. If not already a member, you can try Questia free for one day and conduct research into anti-war novels and books.

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