Mrs Maxted recently read this book and, having read Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong a few years ago and visited the trenches in the battlefields of Northern France at Easter, was struck once again by the heartbreaking reality that so many innocents died during World War I… Here’s a review that tells the story from A Customer at http://www.amazon.co.uk:
“This book is so moving and yet, despite the horrors endured on the frontline during WW1, a sense of humour (however grim) is retained throughout, almost to the last few paragraphs. The story is written in the first person narrative, by a young German soldier, Paul Bauer. He is only eighteen when he is pressured by his family, friends and society in general, to enlist and fight at the front. He enters the army, along with 6 other lads he was at school with, each one filled with fresh, lively, optimistic and patriotic thoughts, but within a few months they are all as old men, in mind if not completely in body. Paul and his friends witness such horrors and endure such severe hardship and suffering, that they are unable to even speak about it to anyone but each other. This is a very moving and poignant novel, and the reader is made even more aware of its poignancy in knowing that its author is writing from experience, having suffered greatly as a young man on the frontline, whilst fighting for the Fatherland.”
This is an excellent summary of the book, but you must read it to feel its force.