One hundred years have passed since the ending of World War I, "the war to end all wars." In the October 2018 issue of Smithsonian Magazine, American author William Vollmann travels to the former front lines of the Great War and asks, in a nod to Erich Maria Remarque's famous novel, if all is still quiet on the western front. Vollmann's long-form essay weaves together historical events, references to primary historical documents and secondary interpretations, and his own experiences at battle sites and conversations with local residents a century later. The result is a lengthy and meditative "attempt at remembrance," intriguingly described by Vollmann as "peculiar, accidental and limited," which brings readers to battle sites in eastern France and reflects on myriad perspectives on the war throughout history. Vollmann is the author of Europe Central, winner of the 2005 National Book Award for Fiction. This article also features photography by Tomas van Houtryve, an award-winning documentary photographer based in Paris.
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