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Cat's Cradle (Essential Penguin) [Paperback]

Kurt Vonnegut , Benjamin Kunkel
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 July 1999 Essential Penguin

Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it ...

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he is the inventor of 'ice-nine', a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker's Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to mankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh ...

Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (1 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140285601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140285604
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 10.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 360,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was a writer, lecturer and painter. He was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During WWII, as a prisoner of war in Germany, he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired Slaughterhouse Five. First published in 1950, he went on to write fourteen novels, four plays, and three short story collections, in addition to countless works of short fiction and nonfiction. He died in 2007.

Product Description


One of the warmest, wisest, funniest voices to be found anywhere in fiction (Daily Telegraph)

The time to read Vonnegut is just when you begin to suspect that the world is not what it appears to be. He is not only entertaining, he is electrocuting. You read him with enormous pleasure because he makes your hair stand on end (New York Times)

Vonnegut has looked the world straight in the eye and never flinched (J. G. Ballard) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

One of America's greatest writers gives us his unique perspective on our fears of nuclear annihilation --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make sure you've read Slaughterhouse 5 first 18 Aug 2007
This is the second book of Vonnegut I've read, the first one being Vonnegut's best know novel, "Slaughterhouse 5". If it was not for "Slaughterhouse 5" I would take "A cat's cradle" as a very imaginative, weird and funny book, but probably not one that keeps me thinking for some time once finished. The tone is just too light and the story too improbable to be taken otherwise. But this is highly deceptive and once you realise that Vonnegut's war experience in Dresden has been central to his vision of life, this book appears not just as light entertainment but as a more profound reflection on the meaning of life (pretty meaningless in the author's view I gather) and, incidentally, on the role of religion and the power science gives to some very irresponsible and unbalanced people (this book was written during the cold war and the possibility of the world being completely wiped out by nuclear war was then seen as very real).

The message may be too pessimistic to make the novel completely enjoyable but it makes for an interesting and very funny read until someone presses the wrong the button.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book 23 Nov 1998
By A Customer
It's full of comic gems and cynicism. Things like the touching of feet. The islanders pronouncing Johnson as Bokonon. That he bans the religion to try to drum up interest. The way he compares himself with some head of an arms complex, (I forget exactly but something like) he looked clean and polished, I felt prickly and diseased. Worth reading for that. I read it 10 years ago and haven't seen it since, but I remember it like a favourite pop song. Buy it.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well, that was great fun.
I first read Cat's Cradle as a 16 year old in 1973. I loved it as much as anything I had read up to that point. I re-read it very recently and tried as hard as I could to avoid the rosy glow of nostalgia colouring my impressions.
I hope I succeeded; in any case I found myself shaking my head every few seconds in wonder at the humour, the ideas and the sheer intelligence on display. I think I probably got more out of the book almost 40 years on than I did at the age of 16, but the fact that a novel, essentially of ideas rather than storyline, left such an indelible impression on my adolescent mind is pretty remarkable. I think Vonnegut is held in even greater esteem today than during his lifetime and the predictions of him going the way of Mark Twain in terms of reputation don't seem too fanciful.
So, it was a great re-connection for me and a re-discovery of something dear; then the real fun began when I read the reviews here on Amazon.
Fighting the temptation to slip into `defensive fanboy' mode I still find the content of the negative reviews published here fascinating and provocative. There seem to be a few consistent criticisms;
* The novel and it's themes are `dated' and no longer relevant
* The characters are unbelievable or `unappealing'
* The plot is weak
* There is no central point to the novel
So, is the novel `dated'? Well, it was published in 1973, so by some standards it's bound to be dated - it is nearly 50 years old and our world today is different technologically, politically and environmentally. Given all of that I'm personally astonished at how well it has aged. Yes, we are no longer preoccupied by the Cold War, but with events in Iran how safe do we really feel from the threat of nuclear war?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First book by Vonnegut I read. 26 May 2014
By Stoyan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
And I enjoyed it. It was referred to me by a friend, as "If you're gonna read one book by Vonnegut, this should be it." I can't say I'm not pleased with the story and characters. Very easy to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Read 18 Jan 2011
I discovered Kurt Vonnegut's incredible literature just last year, and each book I read I fall a little more in love with the way in which he writes and depicts his ideas and thoughts. Cat's Cradle is a funny, thought provoking and over all incredibly addictive book. With a humorous insight into religion, and other things that mak the world go around, this is definitely one of my favourite Vonnegut so far.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A novel of depth and humour 19 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think that this novel appears fragmented because there are a lot of different characters who when interviewed help to form a picture of the scientist Felix Hoenikker. In relation to the Bokonon religion and all the quotes and poems, it's almost like nonsense poetry, making little sense in places. In this sense it is very Modernist, to see the truth within the chaos.

It is an interesting start to the book where the narrator asks us to call him Jonah. Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh, to warn the people of the impending doom. As a prophet he had a certain authority and responsibility, but he was wilful and disobedient and went in the opposite direction. Is the narrator here to point out our own destructive tendencies and that if we don't reform, it will lead to our own destruction, certainly his book, The End of the World would suggest this. However the book makes it point with a large degree of humour. "When I was a younger man - two wives ago, 250,000 cigarettes ago, 3,000 quartz of booze ago .." The modern vices, common to all humanity, who make mistakes. He talks about humanity being divided into teams, a karas, who do God's will without ever knowing what they are doing. So much for the illusion of free will. "If you find your life tangled up with someone else's life for no very logical reason, that person may be a member of your karas." The most farcical example of this is Mrs Crosby, formerly Hoosier. She proceeds to tell the narrator that Hoosiers are in charge of everything, as if it is a prestigious name, akin to Kennedy or Rockefeller.

The narrators search is for Felix Hoenikker and all of the people he meets along the way tell him something about the man and his creation, Ice-9.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about a book of lies, but lies that comfort (some)
I read Slaughterhouse 5 after the author featured heavily in another book I read, enjoyed it immensely, and have now read this one. Read more
Published 16 hours ago by YeahYeahNoh
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Weird
An eminent scientist, his strange children, a new religion openly founded on the premise that fantasy is more desirable than truth; an estranged impoverished island community; a... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Mel Powell
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT his best(I hope)!
I,d never read Vonnegut , but know that "slaughterhouse five "is well-recieved.This however was lightweight,dull and uninteresting , though i did finish it. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A bizarre story that can give you nightmares
I read this book as a teenager and loved it then - but I don't think I really understood it fully. Now I've re-read it and although the quirkiness of the writing style irritated me... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, easy to read with subjects and issues ...
Good book, easy to read with subjects and issues that are not so easy, written with an underscore of humour.
Published 14 days ago by Andrew Pardoe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Pure genius. More far out ideas on each page than most of us would have in a lifetime.
Published 16 days ago by Steve Palmer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent products, excellent service! Thank you.
Published 24 days ago by Stephen Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars But possibly more important in all the years since many of his ideas...
This was the first book by Kurt Vonnegut that I read as a teenager and it had an enormous impact on me because of it's originality. Read more
Published 26 days ago by M. J. Odell
4.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut at his best
This novel turned me from being a Slaughterhouse 5 fan into a Vonnegut fan. It's a crystalline gem of irony and pessimistic fatalism but, unlike later works where he had become... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Stuart
3.0 out of 5 stars Directionless and sometimes dull
I bought this because I had heard about ice-nine from a cousin since the early eighties, and while buying some other stuff, this was thrown up as a suggestion. Read more
Published 7 months ago by S. Zacharias
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