This is one of those anti-war classics that emerged from the Great War, with boys marching off singing patriotic songs about whipping the Huns, and discovering war as it was to be fought in the 20th century: trenches, machine guns, grenades, endless shelling, poison gas.
It was probably very powerful in its day. It still is a powerful and harrowing description of war, but the narrative is a sadly familiar one. If you want to read another story about how horrible war is, this is another story about how horrible war is.One Man's Initiation
has the anti-war message of All Quiet on the Western Front
and the starry-eyed socialist idealism of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle
. Ending with a bunch of soldiers slinging philosophy and revolution in an atmosphere of alcohol and mortar shells, you can see how anything that might shake up the present world order must have appealed to them under the circumstances. Unfortunately, we also know how it turned out.
As a story, it's average, half-fiction, half autobiographical soapbox. I listened to it because it was an Audible freebie. Not a complete waste of time, but I find Upton Sinclair a much more compelling writer in this space than John Dos Passos.