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Slaughterhouse-Five [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (338 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Adapted for a magnificent George Roy Hill film three years later (perhaps the only film adaptation of a masterpiece which exceeds its source), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW, who has in the later stage of his life become "unstuck in time" and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously.

Traumatized by the bombing of Dresden at the time he had been imprisoned, Pilgrim drifts through all events and history, sometimes deeply implicated, sometimes a witness. He is surrounded by Vonnegut's usual large cast of continuing characters (notably here the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the alien Tralmafadorians who oversee his life and remind him constantly that there is no causation, no order, no motive to existence).

The "unstuck" nature of Pilgrim's experience may constitute an early novelistic use of what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; then again, Pilgrim's aliens may be as "real" as Dresden is real to him. Struggling to find some purpose, order or meaning to his existence and humanity's, Pilgrim meets the beauteous and mysterious Montana Wildhack (certainly the author's best character name), has a child with her and drifts on some supernal plane, finally, in which Kilgore Trout, the Tralmafadorians, Montana Wildhack and the ruins of Dresden do not merge but rather disperse through all planes of existence.

Slaughterhouse-Five was hugely successful, brought Vonnegut an enormous audience, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a bestseller and remains four decades later as timeless and shattering a war fiction as Catch-22, with which it stands as the two signal novels of their riotous and furious decade.


Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut's audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut's work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut's work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut's reputation (like Mark Twain's) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.


Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut's World War II POW experience) and Cat's Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut's work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut's work as well as newcomers.

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


"Each attractive volume presents recent essays by noted critics who examine in detail aspects of a single literary work...Highly recommended for academic collections."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1592 KB
  • Print Length: 285 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (1 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (338 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,485 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So it goes 13 Aug. 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The most impressive thing about Slaughterhouse 5 is that Vonnegut's distinctive laconic, sarcastic, and humorous tone of voice is never at the expense of the pathos that emerges from the terrible events he is describing. Rather it reorientates the normal uses of pity, which is to engender, rage, revenge, or to give it its rightful name - patriotism. Rather his wry commentary turns this use on its head by showing that the causes of pitiful human suffering are actually this ridiculous folly of patriotism itself. His character Billy Pilgrim is taken to the alien planet of Tralfamadore. The Tralfamadorians teach Billy to see human life in this way, and to see human suffering as the result of unalterable folly. "So it goes" is his catchphrase which sums up this "Tralfamadorian" point of view. When ever Billy reports something has died he adds "So it goes."

Late last month (July 2011) a Missouri school banned the book form their library following a Missouri professor's complaint about its content. In a column for the local paper, Wesley Scroggins wrote that Slaughterhouse 5 "contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame. The 'f word' is plastered on almost every other page. The content ranges from naked men and women in cages together so that others can watch them having sex to God telling people that they better not mess with his loser, bum of a son, named Jesus Christ."

Should you be worried about whether any of this is true, might I reassure you and say that none of this is true. The "F word" appears sparingly, maybe less than 7 of its 177 pages. The "naked men and women" is not true either, its one naked man, Billy Pilgrim and one semi-naked woman in a zoo on Tralfamadore. Neither are described salaciously, nor is there any erotic content in the book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Timeless' Classic 6 Feb. 2012
Slaughterhouse Five is a book that defies a clear and coherent summary, it is hard to pin it on any one thing. On one level it is a book about the fire bombing of Dresden during the climax of the second world war - which the author witnessed first hand during his military service - but on a much larger level it is a twisted science fiction/psychological cross breed about time travel, aliens, philosophy, war, perspective, life and of course death. So it goes. The book easily scores a 5 out of 5 for it's unique writing style, story and approach: it is very readable, and though it's short, it leaves a long lasting impression. I would also say it's a book you could read twice - which is always a good thing - as there is a lot of depth scattered throughout its pages for the readers who like to highlight, take notes and dwell on the book's themes and messages.

Kurt Vonnegut employs a very economical writing style, and relies heavily on symbolism, colours and motifs, but delivers them with short and direct sentences. The author has popularised the saying `So it goes' through Slaughterhouse Five's layers upon layers of (well executed) repetition; these three words hold a certain power in the context of the story, and will no doubt conjure in the reader's mind a fascinating philosophy that underlines the whole book.

The story centers around a time traveling man called Billy Pilgrim who served in the Second World War, witnessed the fire bombing at Dresden, and was abducted by aliens who helped him to understand his time traveling experiences. He also ends up at some point in the novel as a POW in a slaughterhouse - numbered 5, obviously.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only for those who understand irony 10 Feb. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was my first encounter with Kurt Vonnegut. He was much mentioned in a book I loved called the Universe Versus Alex Woods so I thought I should give it a go. I wasn't sure at first, but by the end I was glad to have found someone so totally on my wavelength. Sometimes you think your view of the world might be flawed, so it's great to have some verification from a respected author. I watched a video on youtube of a college lecturer who didn't understand the book. Having described it and explained its meaning he invited questions of his small audience and started to interact with them. One young student was mystified by what he was hearing and said "But didn't he mean ...?" and the lecturer sneered in response saying but he is saying you just have to accept that this is what life is like or why would he say " so it goes"? - we know people have a problem with irony, but I hope that young man trusted his own view and has not been misdirected. Apparently Kurt got so worried about the lack of understanding of irony he swore to try to avoid it. It took him a long time to work out how to write about the ludicrous world he witnessed in Dresden and he certainly succeeded with this book. It isn't easy to make people laugh when your topic is such a gruelling one, but he does, sometimes wryly, sometimes straightforward out loud funny. It's a very serious book though and has made him a hero for me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unstuck in excellence 28 Jan. 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Without a doubt one of the most original, thought-provoking, captivating and post-modern texts I have ever read. Moving, touching, human, informative and endearing, I recommend this to anyone who can read, or has the slightest interest in something... extra...
It's short (only 157 pages) and it's only taken me two afternoons to finish it, but it'll never truly be finished, and there's no way in hell I'm going to let it rot on a shelf somewhere- I'll be reading it again within a week or two.
Possible contender for a new favourite author here...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Witty and funny satire, but confusing at times
Worth a read as it gives a new perspective on war (for me at least), the story moves very quickly and in a very matter of fact style, but I can't say I understood why some of the... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Alex Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant
A stark review of what atrocity happened at Dresden, indeed in the 2nd world war. Although not full in detail, it leaves all to imagination. A must read.
Published 10 days ago by Mr G A Groom
5.0 out of 5 stars So simple, so powerful
A few months ago I saw a quote from "Slaughterhouse 5," I think in the coffee shop at the Tate Modern. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Jak
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book.
Spectacular. My favourite book and Vonnegut's best. Buy it, read it, pass it on to your friends.
Published 11 days ago by Mike McDowall
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best well known of Vonnegut's Novels
Probably the best well known of Vonnegut's Novels, Slaugherhouse-Five deserves it's status as a classic. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Andrew Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it. A classic.
Published 27 days ago by geekerson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I think I'll probably like it which is why I bought it. I haven't read it yet.
Published 27 days ago by JPG
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
Sarcastic and beautifully profane. Does not make romantic excuses for the evils of mankind. "Visually uncensored" journey. Highly recommended.
Published 29 days ago by Lily R. A
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Got gripped but didn't complete my 'would love to read again' criteria.
Published 1 month ago by nipanddip1
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
A twentieth century literary classic. Although historiographically inaccurate (the Dresden bombing references used were based more on inflated statistics first used as Nazi German... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stu Kershaw
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