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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Johnny Got His Gun (Penguin Modern Classics)
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on 6 March 2017
The second time of reading it.I found this book very moving hence my reading it twice.The Book "Johnny got his gun" takes one deep into the mind of a soldier who has nothing but his mind and thoughts left,having lost his legs arms has a badly disfigured face.When your reading to get to know him through the thoughts going around in his head.Very Moving.It was once said of this book "if everyother read it there would be no more wars.

I read this book many years ago and found it very moving.o .
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on 15 December 2016
Great book. Recommended.
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on 2 February 2016
Very thought provoking. If every any book should be read by politicians this is it - no more wars would be declared if they did.
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on 8 June 1999
There are few books which I can honestly say have altered my outlook on life, whose covers I have closed a different person. "Johnny got his gun" is one of them, though I fear I lack the eloquence to persuade you to read it.
It tells the story of a World War One soldier, horrifically wounded in battle to the point where he is totally cut off from the outside world. With only his memories for company, he attempts to make sense of his situation, and make the most of his world, such as it is. After a long time (having no way to measure time at first, he can be no more precise than this), he eventually manages to communicate with the staff attending him in hospital, and then with his army commanders.
Trumbo's masterstroke is, to my mind, quite subtle: he hardly uses any punctuation at all, save for full stops. This relates very effectively the disordered stream of the soldier's thoughts, and at times, makes the prose all the more disturbing.
His protests to the outside world, first unheard and later ignored, are extremely powerful and moving, and make the book as a whole demand repeat readings.
Everyone should me made to read this book at sometime or another.
(In case you were wondering, the other life-altering books were "One flew over the cuckoo's nest", "Slaughterhouse five", "Farenheit 351" and "1984" - read them all.)
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on 17 July 2011
I'm not sure how the majority of people who read this book heard about it but for me it was through the song 'One' by Metallica. After watching the music video i was intrigued and fascinated by the lyrics and how harrowing the video was, and did a bit of research about the song. I found that both James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich (members of metallica) had read the book and found it powerful enough to write a song on the book alone, this furthered my intrigue. So after finding the book on Amazon i decided to buy it, and im glad i did ! The book followes the life of a young chap in the army who after a horrific accident looses his arms, legs, nose, mouth, eyes and all he has left are his thoughts. The book is a brilliant bit of writing from the author, and also is a very powerful anti-war document. The book has definately changed my opinion on war as it rises a point that i had never thought of before. It can be a challenging read at times as it changes from the soldiers conscious to un-conscious thoughts, the book also inspired me to buy the film which for me helped put face's to the name's in the book. Definately worth a read.
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on 3 July 2002
Next time you watch a "smart-bomb" create a puff of smoke on a green screen, or, you see the clouds of dust settling on a hill in Afghanistan or Iraq you might be forgiven for thinking that war really is now "clinical", "painless" and "humane".
This book illustrates what war looks like up-close and personal, from an author black-listed for "un-American" behaviour. Every time you see a bomb exploding you never see the real casualties. These are too graphic to appear on TV and therefore we are safely insulated from seeing what we are responsible for. But the pictures themselves show only half the truth.
This book lays bare the reality of suffering and the stark reality that war, for whatever reason, is not glorious. It is not honourable. It is not heroic.
It illustrates how the with the best intentions and through being caught up in patriotic or nationalistic ferver your life can be taken and never returned. All the while, those who choose to start war never, ever have to put their lives on the line.
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on 30 November 1998
I first read "Johnny Got His Gun" when I was British soldier in the 1960's. Picked up copy at the railway bookstore on Grantham station and had read it by the time I reached King's Cross. The story is of the effects of war and the need to stop the senseless slaughter. Johnny is the dead man who is alive, the living man who is dead. His need to establish communications with the nurses who tend him is a reflection of the author's search for a voice to express his anger at the waste of war. I was profoundly affected by the book and have given away countless copies. I have just ordered another through Amazon to test their service and saw this facility.
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on 17 October 1998
The book concerns itself with the memories of a young soldier's life before WW1. And soon you realise the truth of his condition, he has no senses or limbs. But as he lies upon the hospital bed, the frail life kept at bay by the doctors, he falls deeper into despair, wishing only for an end. Its a tale of war's effects, that the people sent out to die on the fields all have names, they have their own memories, they have their own beliefs but individuality is not recognised by the politicians who send them to their doom.
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on 21 July 2001
Previous reviews suggested that this would be a thought provoking book, but believe me they cannot prepare you for the effect this book will have. It not only provides a disturbing insight into the horrors faced by one man, but makes you question the very foundations upon which western society is based. You could struggle for a lifetime with the issues raised by this book and never find answers. Trumbo's dialogues are a moving and powerful expression of one man's hell. The book is beautifully written and the lack of punctuation only makes the text more compelling.
Do not be mislead or detered by the title, this is not a war story in the traditional sense; it is so much more. I cannot recommend this book highly enough but if you only read one book in your entire lifetime it should be this one!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 November 2015
Johnny Got His Gun was first published on 3 September 1939, two days after Germany invaded Poland, and is about a 20-year-old American infantryman Joe Bonham who suffers a direct hit from a German shell in the last days of the Great War. Unsurprisingly, its powerful anti-war message also had a profound effect on Americans during the Vietnam era.

Dalton Trumbo conveys this anti-war message across 20 short chapters, each explores a different aspect of Joe’s life before the war, or his thoughts on his current predicament. As his thoughts become more lucid, he realises he has been left deaf, dumb and blind and that all four of his limbs have subsequently been amputated. His face has also been disfigured and is covered by a mask to avoid distressing the hospital staff.

Dalton Trumbo was also a screenwriter and he was later blacklisted and jailed for being a Communist. His political views are to the fore in this convincing argument for peace and cooperation, and against the futility and waste of war. War is explained as "us" versus "them": "us" being the working classes and “them" being those with money who do not do any fighting but whose interests are served by war. Joe also muses on the abstract, nebulous language that is used to justify war - democracy, freedom, liberty etc.

For all the arguments in favour of pacifism it is when Joe is musing on aspects of his life before the war that this book really succeeds. Most of these memories involve moments of loss for Joe, and these mirror the physical losses that Joe has sustained.

Johnny Got His Gun is one of the most original, clever and powerful novels I’ve ever read. It’s a little uneven in places but overall it’s unforgettable, and rightly regarded as classic American literature.
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