by Ernst Jünger
Penguin Classics edition for which the translator (Michael Hofmann) won the 2004 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.)
Storm of Steel (in German: In Stahlgewittern) is the memoir of German officer Ernst Jünger's experiences on the Western Front during the First World War. It was originally printed privately in 1920, making it one of the first personal accounts to be published. The book is a graphic account of trench warfare. It was largely devoid of editorialization when first published, but was heavily revised several times.
The memoir widely viewed as the best account ever written of fighting in WW1
A memoir of astonishing power, savagery, and ashen lyricism, Storm of Steel illuminates not only the horrors but also the fascination of total war, seen through the eyes of an ordinary German soldier. Young, tough, patriotic, but also disturbingly self-aware, Jünger exulted in the Great War, which he saw not just as a great national conflict but—more importantly—as a unique personal struggle. Leading raiding parties, defending trenches against murderous British incursions, simply enduring as shells tore his comrades apart, Jünger kept testing himself, braced for the death that will mark his failure. Published shortly after the war’s end, Storm of Steel was a worldwide bestseller and can now be rediscovered through Michael Hofmann’s brilliant new translation.
Storm of Steel begins with Jünger as a lieutenant entering the line with the 73rd Hanoverian Regiment in Champagne. His first taste of combat came at Les Éparges in April 1915 where he was first wounded.
In total, Jünger was wounded 14 times during the war, including five bullet wounds and earned Golden Wound Badge. He was awarded the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, House Order of Hohenzollern and was the youngest ever recipient of the Pour le Mérite.