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Slaughterhouse-Five
 
 

Slaughterhouse-Five [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)

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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

Review

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

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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
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
By Janie U TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible, unbelievable book! 26 April 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this book as part of my 11th grade English class this year, and had been told for years to read it by my father. I couldn't put it down.

The bitter satire, and the fact that Billy Pilgrim is such an average man made the book more than a good story. The time jumping didn't bother me in the least. Indeed, the whole book read like a true story.

The style, which delivers the most gruesome happenings in a flat, emotionless way, is at the same time full of a criticism of American society and of war. Funny, isn't it, that Billy Pilgrim was happier in Dresden than in America!
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60 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absurdities 5 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback
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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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A short masterpiece 15 Jun 2001
Format:Paperback
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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42 of 47 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel. Well worth a read.
Amazing novel. I'm not going to write a book review here. All I can say is that Vonnegut really captures the feeling of sometimes being a passenger/spectator in life, rather than a... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Mr. Trk Ota
5.0 out of 5 stars In every situation there is humour, wit, humanity and cruelty, and...
A different take on people and how they are affected by war. The book moves back and forward to different times in the character's lives. Read more
Published 3 days ago by SuperFlag
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought for my daughter for her A level studies x
Published 5 days ago by helenz
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant.
Published 10 days ago by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I liked it very much. Well written exciting book. Timeless
Published 18 days ago by Rafe Peacock
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed reading this as our first book club read - ...
Enjoyed reading this as our first book club read - it certainly created a lot of debate which was good but glad to finish it.
Published 21 days ago by Andrea
4.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking
I liked the usage of "so it goes" to draw your attention to each death. definitely worth a read of this unconventional book.
Published 21 days ago by TeamSandeluss
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
Along with Steinbeck and Harper Lee and others, this is a must read. This is one of those books you tell those you know who enjoy reading quality literature.
Published 29 days ago by Mr. M. S. Barnett
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
books ok
Published 1 month ago by joan smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern masterpiece
When reviewing books, I'm usually careful not to reveal too much of the plot – after all, while I might want to encourage people to read a book, I don't want to spoil it for... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. P. Labrow
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