Slaughterhouse-five, Or, The Children's Crusade

Slaughterhouse-five, Or, The Children's Crusade

A Duty-dance With Death

eBook - 2009
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"A desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century."-- Time

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

Slaughterhouse-Five , an American classic, is one of the world's great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Vonnegut describes as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he himself witnessed as an American POW. It combines science fiction, autobiography, humor, historical fiction, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber's son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. Billy, like Vonnegut, experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW, and, as with Vonnegut, it is the defining moment of his life. Unlike the author, he also experiences time travel, or coming "unstuck in time." Billy Pilgrim's odyssey reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

Praise for Slaughterhouse-Five

"Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement." -- The Boston Globe

"Very tough and very funny . . . sad and delightful . . . very Vonnegut." -- New York Times

"Splendid art . . . a funny book at which you are not permitted to laugh, a sad book without tears." -- Life
Publisher: New York : Dial Press, [2009]
ISBN: 9780440339069
0440339065

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b
becker
Jul 10, 2018

This book is smart and complex and has a big impact but I can't say I loved reading it. I found it quite difficult at times to absorb. There is so much delivery in these simply worded sentences. Add that to the constant time shifts and I became frustrated because I felt I was missing the point at times. It was like the concepts were too big for me to take in in the rapid fire form he uses where every sentence is a worthy or meaningful statement. It was bleak and tragic in a way that sometimes pulled at my heart and other times left me feeling numb and hopeless. He would suck the joy out of me in one paragraph and then throw in such a witty, dry one liner that you couldn't help but smile. It is a book about war and death and the concept of time and the questionable idea of humanity. Too much to take in with just one reading. I'll have to try it again one day but until then I can say I greatly admire Vonnegut.

SPPL_Kristen Mar 20, 2018

17 year old me was really into Vonnegut. 23 year old me is, too, but in a less obnoxious way (I hope).

b
Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

A tale of impossibilities, outrageous ironies, and tragic comedies of angst. I enjoyed the dark version of existentialism as a theme. There is also a dark take on humanity that provokes a sad sort of laughter (which is the only type of humor in this book): a serious message is followed by a meaningless, mundane observation (reminds me of the movie Ordinary People, which I recommend). Further, after a death, Vonnegut recognizes the deceased with the anticlimactic "And so it goes." Despite the good of the novel, I feel that either some of the messages of the novel were not effectively conveyed or they simply weren't there at all: there were several repeated phrases that had no meaning to me, as did the majority of the novel. If you like this book, I would recommend 1984 by George Orwell.

Vonnegut uses that neat trick so often employed by David Letterman; he repeats the same phrase over and over in different contexts until you find it uncontrollably funny. Aside from his insightful wit, he also manages to convey the absurdity of human conflict. So it goes.

ArapahoeJeremiah Aug 09, 2016

Not a typical sci-fi novel at all, but more of a literary-historical-memoir with sci-fi used as a rhetorical tool to enhance the main message/narrative. The story is partially autobiographical, of Vonnegut’s experience as a POW in WW2 in the German town of Dresden, and of the fire-bombing of this city by the Allies. The novel follows Billy Pilgrim as he experiences this same incident, and goes on to tell of his life afterwards, including his abduction by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, and his time on their world. The narrative moves back and forth in time, now that Billy has ability to time-travel to any moment of his life, and makes for very interesting reading. Written in Vonnegut’s very clever, laid back style, extremely sharp and sardonic, and full of humor. A very pleasurable and profound reading experience, dealing with very un-pleasurable topics. A modern classic.

t
tlovold
Mar 03, 2016

The beginning of the movie with Billy stumbling through the snow and music is unforgettable. It is my favorite part of the movie. The images stuck with me as I read the book. Great book and the movie was just as good, which is unusual. Only other movie that I enjoyed as much as the book was John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" with James Dean.

v
VRMurphy
Feb 22, 2016

Hmmm. I loved Vonnegut's voice when I was a teenager and young adult, and thought I'd revisit that by starting to reread his books. His writing is still powerful and deceptively simple, and he plays with language like almost no other American writer. However, if I was reading this for the first time, I might not be moved to seek out more. His voice comes across to me now as a bit jaded and cynical, in the "cool kid" way. So it goes, indeed.

m
markn796
Jul 22, 2015

Classifying this as a great literary telling of an anti-war story is a bit deceiving. A poorly written account of a man's life, it does focus on absurdity. Confusing is an understatement; I would love some explanation of why aliens were involved. There are almost no coherent events at all. If I'm reading an anti-war book, I'd like to come away knowing why the author despises the violence. I'd also like to know what the purpose of reading the book was. Lacking characters the reader cares about, abundant in poor writing style, and boasting no overarching concept, message, or theme whatsoever, this is not a book I'd recommend.

shoelesssailor Jun 19, 2015

Extremely dark novel, yet enjoyable. I would not recommend this novel for younger readers

kurthallsman Oct 17, 2014

One of the best (among many) of Vonnegut's books. The beginning of his mature snippet (I'm going to describe to you what happens in this book before it actually happens in this book) writing style. And So It Goes. p.s.: The movie is great too.

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Quotes

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saintjennifer May 02, 2018

“And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.”

SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"All this happened, more or less."

d
ddmyres
Jun 16, 2013

"Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

3
3038462sme
May 22, 2013

"So it goes."

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cmlibrary_ecrites Jul 27, 2016

cmlibrary_ecrites thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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ckaldahl
May 31, 2015

ckaldahl thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Anarchy_Bunny Sep 08, 2009

Anarchy_Bunny thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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b
Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

Sexual Content: About a dozen innuendos and there is sex, but it is not described.

b
Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

Coarse Language: A few cuss words.

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