The book’s history, as far as we are told about it, remains rather unclear. There were several successive versions – one account says there were six – and this is alleged to be the last, Remarque having junked the others. This makes it all the more peculiar that his widow, the Hollywood superstar Paulette Goddard, went to Munich a year after his death and launched an earlier and much inferior draft entitled Schatten im Paradies, translated as Shadows in Paradise (Remarque had left Germany in 1931, hounded by the Nazis even before they came to power, but continued to write in German). That text was pretty universally panned. Remarque, the critics said, had clearly been suffering from a senile decay of talent.