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Slaughterhouse 5 (Vintage Crucial Classics) [Paperback]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (258 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 (258 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 606,480 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
29 of 31 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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So It Goes... 13 Jun 2004
"Slaughterhouse-Five" was my first introduction to Kurt Vonnegut in the novel form. I had read a few of his short stories and was already impressed with his status as a writer. I would've never expected what I experienced when I read "Slaughterhouse-Five." It's hard to put into words that'll actually do this masterpiece the justice it deserves, but I will try.
Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time. This meaning that he relives certain moments of his life in random order like a scrambled movie. He has absolutely no control over it whatsoever and he never knows what part of his life he'll have to reenact. The majority of the moments that we witness take place during his involvement in WW2 as a POW and also when he is taken aboard an alien spaceship with creatures known as "Tralfamadorians." There is no ending for Billy Pilgrim. He witnesses his beginning as well as death... and then the show starts all over again in a continuous loop throwing Pilgrim into random segments of his life.
Reading this novel was a completely new experience to me. I had never read anything like it, and now I know that I will never again read anything like it, as there is no way the book can be successfully duplicated by others. Vonnegut is able to take a serious matter (such as war) and still throw in a balanced sense of humor that will take you by surprise. The book pokes fun at just about anything you can imagine while still showing respect and care to the main subject matter. The story is outrageously subtle and unpredictable. This novel is a very easy read and once you begin it, you won't want to put it down until you have finished it. Vonnegut is one talented writer with a very unique sense of style that I have never witnessed in any other book.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A short masterpiece 15 Jun 2001
Slaughterhouse 5 is every bit as good as it's reputation suggests. It is witty, observant, humane, and clever. Vonnegut writes in a deceptively simple prose, but which must have been difficult to have pulled off: namely, the way the story flits from the present to the past and to the future, very often in a single page, but manages to do it without disturbing the effortless flow of the narrative. No mean trick for a writer. A favourite book of mine. I can also recommend some of his earlier books: The Sirens of Titan; Piano Player; Mother Night, and Player Piano. His later books are not so hot; but Slaughterhouse 5 is his masterpiece. Like Heller's Catch 22, with which it has something in common, it is fun to read.
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60 of 67 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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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it again 5 July 2004
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I know this novel fairly well having read it several times (once aloud to my students). It is about all time being always present if only we knew, or could realize it, or had a sense about time in the same way we have senses for light and sound.

It is also about the Allied fire bombings of Dresden which killed about 25,000 people. (And so it goes.) Kurt Vonnegut begins as though writing a memoir and advises us that "All of this happened, more or less..." Of course it did not, and yet, as with all real fiction, it is psychologically true. His protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, an unlikely hero, somewhat in the manner of unlikely heroes to come like Forest Gump and the hero of Jerzy Kosinski's Being There, transcends time and space as he bumbles along. This is a comédie noire--a "black comedy"--not to be confused with "film noir," a cinematic genre in which the bad guys may win or at least they are made sympathetic. In comédie noire the events are horrific but the style is light-hearted. What the genres have in common is a non-heroic protagonist.

This is also a totally original work written in a most relaxing style that fuses the elements of science fiction with realism. It is easy to read (which is one of the reasons it can be found on the high school curriculum in our public schools). It is sharply satirical, lampooning not only our moral superiority, our egocentricity, but our limited understanding of time and space. And of course it is anti-war novel in the tradition of All Quiet on the Western Front and Johnny Got His Gun.

Vonnegut's view of time in this novel is like the stratification of an upcropping of rock: time past and time present are there for us to see, but also there is time future.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A magnificent, mad and moving delirium from the master
Published 1 day ago by BobMay
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I am not a lover of the books that jump around between people and also time, including in the same paragraph. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Lt Col Val
4.0 out of 5 stars Like eating marshmallows....
Don't misunderstand me... this is a kool book, written in an informal style which compliments the story. Read more
Published 5 days ago by samantha ingley-haden
5.0 out of 5 stars Slaughter house five by Kurt Vonnegut
We chose this book to read at our book club after hearing it reviewed on radio four. It is a quick read but insightful, describing a war veterans disintegration after witnessing... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Paul Statham (
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 of the best
The inhumanity of mass execution is very diffiecult subjet to approach. Slaughterhouse 5 has won Kurt a place in the critics list of the world's best books and justifiably so. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Excruciating
Excruciating to read but another bookclub choice so no avoiding it
Published 11 days ago by Yvonne & Phillip
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
great book will buy more from this writer
Published 12 days ago by Paul
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 13 days ago by geordygit
5.0 out of 5 stars World of Books offer an excellent array of books
World of Books offer an excellent array of books. Speedy and seamless delivery - I just wish they offered a postage deal for 3 or more books....
Published 16 days ago by Miss C L Cresswell
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy unremarkable read
The book is easy to read and starts off very well, I feel it runs out of gas and is very predictable and repetitive. OK but not remarkable in any way.
Published 23 days ago by David Statham
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