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Slaughterhouse 5 (Vintage Crucial Classics) [Paperback]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Aug 2003 Vintage Crucial Classics
One of Vonnegut's most well-known novels, this book was also made into a film. It concerns Billy Pilgrim, a man with the ability to travel in time, and his adventures as a result of this.

Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (7 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099458438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099458432
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,052,065 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

Amazon Review

It took Vonnegut more than 20 years to put his Dresden experiences into words. He explained, "there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again." Slaughterhouse Five is a powerful novel incorporating a number of genres. Only those who have fought in wars can say whether it represents the experience well. However, what the novel does do is invite the reader to look at the absurdity of war. Human versus human, hedonist politicians pressing buttons and ordering millions to their deaths all for ideologies many cannot even comprehend. Flicking between the US, 1940's Germany and Tralfamadore, Vonnegut's semi- autobiographical protagonist Billy Pilgrim finds himself very lost. One minute he is being viewed as a specimen in a Tralfamadorian Zoo, the next he is wandering a post-apocalyptic city looking for corpses. Slaughterhouse Five-Or The Children's Crusade A Duty-Dance with Death is a remarkable blend of black humour, irony, the truth and the absurd. The author regards his work a "failure", millions of readers do not. Released the same time bombs were falling on South East Asia, this title caused controversy and awakening. Essential reading for all. So it goes. --Jon Smith --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


'A marvellous excursion...the writing is pungent, the antics uproarious, the wit as sharp as a hypodermic needle' Daily Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The first chapter in this book is in the first person which gives context to the rest of the book. I always forget how rare, but enjoyable, it is to read first person until you come across it, generally in autobiographies. This gave a fascinating start which engaged my curiosity from the beginning.
I loved the swapping backwards and forwards in time. It was initially unsettling but once I accepted that was normal then it was a very relaxing technique. The use of the fourth dimension led to a interesting conclusion that when a body dies it doesn't matter as there are still times when it was alive and they can be revisited at any time.
Billy has memories from the future which is a great concept and I loved his complete acceptance of what will be happening at some time and also accepting his inability to change it.
I'm not quite sure how the author managed to acheive it, but the suspense was retained all through the novel even though, through Billy, the reader has already seen the end of the story.
There is a thin line between the philosophical genius of Billy and his lunatic tendancies which increase as the time progressed towards his death.
This is the first Kurt Vonnegut book I have read and I will read more.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true literary classic 7 July 2002
By A Customer
Kurt Vonnegut has produced an extraordinary account of a young soldier by the name of Billy Pilgrim, as he faces the disaster of the Dresden bombing in the second world war. Vonnegut's approach to this account sees Billy Pilgrim travel through time as he experiences many of his life roles both before and after the bombing, as we are taken on a journey through Billy's life. Vonnegut's style is both witty and serious, making Slaughterhouse 5 an entertaining read whilst truly bringing home the horrors of war. If you are particularly interested in war literature, Slaughterhouse 5 is a must.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absurdities 5 Jun 2006
Taught now in English classes as a post-modern sketch of the absurdity of war, this novel uses a collage of techniques and genres--science fiction, episodic storytelling, Absurdism, memoir--to get its point across.

It's point can still be missed, however. War is fought by children, Vonnegut explains, caught up in something that they often do not understand. Therein lay the absurdity. Vonnegut's own personal history, captured and held in Dresden during the bombing, allowed him firsthand to witness the devastation war can bring. Ideologies are transient, he realizes. And the destruction of one of the most beautiful European cities and the deaths of 24,000 human beings had a profound effect on him. What is the point? Examine the purpose of life. What is it?

The story demands the reader to ask questions of him/herself.

Also, the impact this book has had on literature can't be ignored. In an earlier review, the stylistic similarities to Adams and Irving, both who followed Vonnegut and so were obviously influenced, was mentioned. That's important. You can trace a number of modern satirists to Vonnegut--Palahniuk being my own personal favorite.

Whether you agree with Vonnegut's stance on war as absurd or not, Slaughterhouse-Five is worth a careful reading.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Off beat, quirky and poigniant 6 Nov 2011
This book certainly has the wow factor. It is unusual, funny, surreal and intense - like nothing ever read before, it stands alone.
It is the story of Billy Pilgrim who was a POW with the 'author' during the second world war. Billy travels back and forward in time visiting himself at various ages - including the period during the second world war and the fire bombing of Dresden. In addition to this strange time-travelling existence, or because of it, he is kidnapped and transported to the far awar planet of Tralfamadore in a flying saucer - where he is kept in a zoo (with a beautiful actress) that he cannot leave due to the outside atmosphere being poisonous.
(I told you it was surreal). This sounds very wacky - and it is.

The humour used in the book is hilarious - one of my favourite passages is where Billy is captured:
The dog, who had sounded so ferocious in the winter distances, was a female German Shepherd. She was shivering. Her tail was between her legs. She had been borrowed that morning from a farmer. She had never been to war before. She had no idea what game was being played. Her name was Princess.

This passage is followed up by a description of the Germans who are arresting the POWs - boys, old men and an officer sick of war.

The two main themes of the book are:
- life is not always wonderful (so it goes)
- war is fought by Children. Young men before they have begun to live are the fodder for war.)

I would not necessarily recommend this book to everyone, because it is so unusual and I can see how people may not get it - but it has a tremendous impact and deserves its critical acclaim.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compassion shines through satire 5 Mar 2004
By Andy Millward VINE VOICE
Ignore the sneering review, this is a modern classic. In the hands of another author, this might have become a pot-boiling melodrama, but in the compassionate - some would almost say dispassionate tones and measured language of Vonnegut it becomes a deadly weapon - a deadpan satire with teeth, explaining the firebombing of Dresden in terms to bring shame to those who perpetrated this war crime - the victors, in this case.
Vonnegut also employs a simple science fiction technique to great effect - allowing Billy Pilgrim to travel up and down his life at will rather than living it sequentially is far more satisfying than flashbacks and flashforwards.
I find it an incredibly moving book, one of very few worthy of their accolades.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Slaughterhouse 5
The book was on time in fine condition. All good for me. Not much else to be said. all fine
Published 1 day ago by Peter Rogers
4.0 out of 5 stars The madness of war.
One of Vonnegut's best known books, it works on a number of levels, ranging from the horror of World War 2 to the struggle of the central character to reconcile those experiences... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Steve Hewitt
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Brilliant writing as always from Vonnegut and the strongest of stories. One of those books you want your kids to read.
Published 29 days ago by A. Rothwell
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a classic 'beware of war' book
He was a prisoner of war in Dresden during the bombing, It makes you think about ordinary people and places drawn into devastation which they don't even understand. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mary Davey
5.0 out of 5 stars How one deals with war experience, I think.
No perfect way of expressing war experience. I agree with Kurt's method. He understands the war machine intimately. How else would you cope but play a certain clown? Read more
Published 1 month ago by gary
5.0 out of 5 stars The End,the Beginnning, the Middle, the Beginning of the Middle of the...
Incredible little book!
Too many novels on 'weighty' subjects seek to inflict the importance of their message upon us. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lazbing
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic?
Not a classic in my view
Interesting poignant story well written
Facts do not appear to be true (numbers killed)
Maybe I should not have read the other reviews I was... Read more
Published 1 month ago by vkester
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, but compulsive, and very entertaining
I'd not read any Vonnegut beforehand, and I can see there's quite a lot of debate over where to start. Read more
Published 1 month ago by YeahYeahNoh
1.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgent rambling
Yet another American author who thinks his own inane ramblings with no discernible plot can be regarded somehow as a masterpiece. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rob Hatcliff
4.0 out of 5 stars Still a novel for our time ...
"All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true". Thus begins the opening chapter of Kurt Vonnegut's 1969 novel, narrated by a writer who is... Read more
Published 2 months ago by MR M H NUTT
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