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Remarque begins his book with a note before the first chapter. In it he says that his book "is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure," but rather an account of a generation of young men who were destroyed by the war- World War I-"even though they may have escaped its shells." What does he mean? Biography and history tell us his situation. By 1929 when his book came out, World War I had been over for ten years, but it was still affecting people like him and his friends, who had gone from the schoolroom right into the trenches. Many of them survived, but they felt as if a shadow still hung over their lives. After all that time, they still hadn't been able to sort out their feelings about the war.
Remarque says that he doesn't want to accuse or blame anyone, that he certainly doesn't have anything new to confess, and that he is definitely not trying to write an adventure story-the kind of war story that's full of heroes and waving flags.
If all of that is what we should not expect, then what should we expect? Well, if he means what he says, he's going to let the story itself show us just exactly what was so destructive about World War I. Maybe it's the deaths of friends; maybe it's the loss of ideals. We'll need to read the book to find out. But we can expect every chapter to tell us something to support his theme: that the First World War destroyed even those who came through it alive.