For more than seventy years Erich Maria Remarque's startlingly realistic and intensely moving anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front has remained a worldwide best seller. A political and literary sensation when it was first published, Remarque's masterpiece was banned and burned in the 1930s by the Nazis. Remarque was forced to flee Germany, and eventually, in 1939, he immigrated to America. Haunted by the horrors of Nazi Germany and embittered by his exile from the country he loved, Remarque strove to protect his privacy. In Hollywood glamour, in wealth, in the fame gained by successive hits like Arch of Triumph, Remarque hid his torment and buried his fears. Love, too, held its woes for Remarque. He was tortured by the infidelities of his first wife, whom he divorced and then remarried to save her from the Nazis. A turbulent, long-running affair with Marlene Dietrich, who helped him escape war-torn Europe, was followed by romantic liaisons with some of the film world's most seductive stars like Greta Garbo, Dolores de Rio, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Paulette Goddard, who became his second wife. The portrait that emerges is as extravagantly lit by romance as it is shadowed by anguish.
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Hilton Tims has worked as news reporter, film, theatre and music critic and feature writer on a variety of papers and for the BBC.From Publishers Weekly:
The most famous antiwar novel of the 20th century, All Quiet on the Western Front, brought its author, a young German veteran, immediate fame and great wealth. The 1930 Hollywood film is a classic. Yet who remembers the other novels and plays that Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) wrote in his long and productive career? Many of them hit the bestseller lists in Europe and the United States and were also turned into films. All are forgotten, except perhaps in his native Germany, where Remarque, pursued by the Nazis and even after WWII vilified as a traitor, has finally received his due from scholars. Tims's English-language biography is decent. The author follows Remarque from his provincial, lower-middle-class and emotionally starved upbringing to service in the German army in WWI. Restless and ambitious, he tried his hand at teaching, then journalism, and managed to write a few forgettable short stories. Then came the overnight sensation of All Quiet, a success that failed to still Remarque's deep insecurities and his ambivalence about the glare of fame. British novelist and biographer Tims provides plot summaries of Remarque's novels, but little analysis. Midway through, as Hollywood's most glamorous stars, including Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Paulette Goddard, make room in their beds for the rich, handsome and sensitive Remarque and provide him temporary relief from his emotional torments, the book begins to read like an unending gossip column. That has its charms, but only for so long. Illus.
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