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Slaughterhouse-five, or, The children's crusade: A duty-dance with death (A Dell book) [Unknown Binding]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (1976)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007HLO60
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)

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
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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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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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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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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3 of 3 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
books ok
Published 12 hours 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 3 days ago by Mr. P. Labrow
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 5 days ago by xxx
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Just the perfect example of what a novel can be. Funny, heartbreaking, thoughtful. Poteeweet?
Published 5 days ago by A. Moron
1.0 out of 5 stars tiresome
Hard work to get as far as half way and then curiosity overcomes common sense
Over all did not enjoy
Published 8 days ago by M. E. Frear
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent value, service, delivery. thanks
Published 9 days ago by Winifred G
5.0 out of 5 stars So it goes
A counter culture classic, this short novel is a hard-hitting, irreverent, and very funny account of one of the most terrible events of WWII... The firebombing of Dresden. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Stephen W. Lythgoe
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than before
Re-visiting this after 20 years, it is even better than I remember. The writing appears so simple but is deceptive in the way a good artist can make drawing look simple.
Published 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A magnificent, mad and moving delirium from the master
Published 26 days 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 27 days ago by Lt Col Val
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