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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curious, philosophical, wide reaching great book
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...
Published on 1 Oct 2007 by Janie U

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Emperor's new clothes yet again.
I was seduced into reading this "seminal" work by a review in Waterstones. I felt I was missing out on a modern masterpiece. Vaguely remembered it being on a college reading list. I was right because I remembered the beginning.
Sadly it soon became obvious I had disliked it then and given it up as evidently a novel of great merit but one in which the style...
Published 11 months ago by polly ralph


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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
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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compassion shines through satire, 5 Mar 2004
By 
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slaughterhouse5stars, 10 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death (Paperback)
This book is so entertaining I read it twice more after finishing. Comparisons with Catch 22 are germane as both are 2nd World War satirical anti-war books, though I found Slaughterhouse 5 punchier and funnier than Heller's work (which is fantastic as well). The misfortunes that befall the hapless pacific Billy Pilgrim (he doesn't do anything- things just happen to him) operate as a neat parody of the horror and injustices of war. And the sci-fi element brought to my mind the cameo appearance of aliens in Monty Python's The Life Of Brian. Brutal, clever humour. But of course it delivers a thought-provoking message about human nature too. You could also try Cat's Cradle.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Billy Pilgrim shows us the way in this grrrrrrreat book!, 6 Nov 2007
Read this decades ago when Vonnegut was THE thing. SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE was our talisman in school, right along with CATCHER IN THE RYE and about ten other books. We loved this guy for his absurdist comedy and knowing look at the human condition. Occasionally Vonnegut's works will be so "real" that you think he's just giving you a take on a slice of life, but with S5, time becomes a major player in this tale of angst, social malfunction, and Tralfamadorians. The only book I liked better was BREAKFAST FOR CHAMPIONS and the great quirky novel KATZENJAMMER by McCrae which flew off the shelves in America when it first came out. S5 is Black comedy at its finest. Can't go wrong with this one.
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9 of 10 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.
One thing that people will probably dislike about the book is how confusing it can be at times. Since the book jumps around and is not in order, you have to always be thinking and paying attention to every detail. It's very easy to forget what has already happened and what has yet to happen since it is in scrambled order. However, this is what really makes the book that much more special. You'll want to reread it again for this very reason, as you'll most likely miss a few things with the first read. It wasn't very hard for me to keep track of what was going on since I found the book to be so involving.
While this is indeed a classic, because of the strange manner that the book is written in, it will most likely not appeal to everybody. This is a risk-taking work of literature that is bound to not have everybody loving it. Still, I think it's worth anybody's time to pick it up and give it a chance. "Slaughterhouse-Five" is a rare find that will keep you on your toes throughout the entire time. You'll never know what to expect next. A very touching, funny, sad and dark story about a flawed entity known as "human-beings." This has very quickly become a new favourite of mine, without question. -Michael Crane
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So it goes, 7 Jan 2005
This review is from: Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death (Paperback)
This is a fantastic book, one of the best I have ever read (it is also by a considerable distance Vonnegut's best).
As usual for Vonnegut the book is basically an exposition of his psyche. This time combining large themes WWII, the bombing of Dresden, inevitability, time travel and a non-linear existence to produce a truly compelling book.
Some will dislike Vonnegut's idiosyncratic prose and his tendency towards flippancy. Personally, I find his prose engaging and entertaining - he is capable to conjuring up quite vivid imagery, and being funny and moving (often at the same time).
This book contains a couple of my favourite moments - the wonderful image of the planes flying backwards over Dresden and restoring it (how I wish Martin Amis had never read it - maybe he wouldn't have written Time's Arrow) and the idea that he would keep returning to his favourite moment - sitting on the back of a hay wagon in Dresden.
Read it!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic that everybody should read., 15 July 2007
By 
F. X. Dessioux (Madrid, Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death (Paperback)
How can you make a book about WWII's bombing of Dresden, about the complete annihilation of life on such a scale without clear military purpose? The answer is that you can't. Words fail. You're left with describing the conclusion that arises from seeing this and the only one possible is that life is meaningless, that the human need to rationalize and order events is flawed and time, itself, an illusion. I don't know if one should apply this "philosophy" to one's life but the feat of this book is to make you see that one cannot reach another conclusion when witnessing this. And through this Kurt Vonnegut makes us share what this must have been to raise from hiding that morning and see a landscape from the moon where yesterday there was a city.

The second feat is that this is told through a highly entertaining, funny and original story with limpid style and supreme elegance.

This book is a classic that everybody should read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars masterpiece, 9 Sep 2003
Vonnegut finally delivers a complete treatise on the World War II bombing of Dresden. The story of Billy Pilgrim is the story of Kurt Vonnegut who was captured and survived the firestorm in which 135,000 German civilians perished. “Slaughterhouse Five” is an extraordinary success, it is a book to read, and to reread. Its popularity, in part, to its timeliness; it deals with many issues that were vital to the late sixties: war, ecology, overpopulation, and consumerism. Vonnegut’s anti-war treatise is a masterpiece.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, 6 Jan 2012
By 
Herman Norford "Keen Reader" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death (Paperback)
I have now read this novel, Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut, twice over a two-month period. My second reading was for the purpose of a book club and I felt that it would give me an opportunity to ascertain what I had missed on my first reading. I am afraid to say that my second reading did not make my experience of the book any more enjoyable than the first reading nor did I feel that I had gained anything that I might have missed from my first reading. Yet I have to admit that my lack of appreciation of this novel places me in a minority because over the years it has gained cult status and is ranked number 18 in Modern Library list of 100 best novels in English. So here are my reasons as to why I think Slaughterhouse 5 is a much overrated novel.

Slaughterhouse 5 purports to be an anti war novel with Vonnegut putting across his message in an indirect manner. Chapter one of the book is effectively a preface in which, autobiographical fashion, Vonnegut sets the scene for the novel to follow. He launches the novel proper by telling us at the end of chapter one that he has: "finished his war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun." This is a hint at part of the novel's method that is its use of irony because obviously war is not fun. I also suspect that this is one of the reasons why the book is much praised - it is a satire and we all love a good laugh even against the backdrop of war and its brutality.

Chapter two introduces the main character of the novel, Billy Pilgrim. The story of Billy relates to his experience in the Second World War whilst held as a prisoner of war in Dresden where he experiences the bombing of the city. Along with this realistic aspect of the story Vonnegut also creates a science fiction narrative where Billy tells us in a radio broadcast that he was kidnapped by a flying saucer in 1967 and taken to a planet called Tralfamadore. The sci-fi aspect of the novel is another reason why I did not like it. It reads like a children's fantasy story.

Vonnegut does a number of interesting things with Billy. He has him drifting back and forth in time. A process Vonnegut calls being "unstuck in time". Bill even ends up in two places at the same time. This process allows Billy to narrate this past life and his current predicament in Dresden. All this is supposed to be delivered in a witty fashion but I found Vonnegut's wit childish. For example, the creatures on Tralfamadore, "can see where each star has been and where it is going, so that the heavens are filled with rarefied, luminous spaghetti." Further, part of Vonnegut's style is to deliver his narrative in short simple sentences in a reportage fashion. I found this monotonous and dull.

It could be argued that the novel works on an allegorical level, where there is an underlying story about how humans treat each other and other creatures. For example, Billy is placed in a zoo in Tralfamadore and he is subsequently given a female "mate", Montana Wildhack, so that Tralfamadorians could see them mate. Also Vonnegut has one of his minor characters Howard W Campbell Jr set out a case in a monograph to show how we treat each other in unfair and unequal ways.

The novel is also about the writing and creative process. In setting out to write the novel Vonnegut tells us that: "As a trafficker in climaxes and thrills and characterization and wonderful dialogue and suspense and confrontation, I had outlined the Dresden story many times. The best outline I ever made, or anyway the prettiest one was on the back of a roll of wallpaper." Vonnegut then has a way of merging his ramblings about the creative process into an autobiographical narrative. So effectively he blurs the line between fiction and biography. This was clever.

The small parts of gems in this novel do not add up to a whole glittering diamond. I struggled to get to the end of this short novel on both readings and as I did so I could hear, a key feature of the novel, the tedious refrains: "So it goes" and "And so on" ringing in my ears. The novel is meant to deliver a powerful message but the means detracts from the message.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Timeless' Classic, 6 Feb 2012
By 
Michael Cunningham (Melbourne, Victoria (AUS)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death (Paperback)
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. These are all minor details that I will not expand upon, as you will have to read it for yourself, but rest easy in the comforting knowledge that I am not spoiling the book for you. The story is not written in chronological order and allows you to glimpse at all these occurrences and more very early on in the book. The author, even tells the reader how the book will end at the very beginning.

And so on.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed reading Slaughterhouse Five. I strongly recommend it to anyone who has not read it before and I will always hold a special place for it in my bookshelf. :)
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