Slaughterhouse-five, Or, the Children's Crusade

Slaughterhouse-five, Or, the Children's Crusade

A Duty-dance With Death

Book - 1969
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Slaughterhous-Five is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know. From the Paperback edition.
Publisher: New York : Dell Publishing, 1969.
ISBN: 9780385289405
0385289405
9780440080213
0440080215
9780385312080
0385312083
9780385333849
0385333846
Characteristics: 186 p. ;,22 cm.

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diesellibrarian Nov 29, 2010

I'd put off reading this one until quite recently. It pretty much blew my mind. Vonnegut's acerbic prose does little to temper the horrific reality of war and its effect on those who survived to tell the tale.


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elyse0513
Dec 29, 2019

Banned book

IndyPL_SteveB Oct 11, 2019

Indianapolis-born Kurt Vonnegut’s most well-known novel.

Some writers emphasize characters or plot or philosophy. In *Slaughterhouse Five*, at least, Vonnegut appears to be using ideas pulled out of a hat, or maybe just the bag of his own war-inflicted PTSD. Vonnegut’s novels have very little structure and tend to bounce around, although even the bouncing around serves to tie elements of the books together in surprising ways. So stick with it, because it all adds up to something bigger.

*Slaughterhouse Five* is the name and number of a building in Dresden, Germany where Kurt Vonnegut was taken as an American prisoner of war in 1945, just a few days before part of the city was destroyed by an intense Allied Fire-bombing. The bombing is the centerpiece of the life of his central character, Billy Pilgrim, trapped in the slaughterhouse basement while the bombs fell. Perhaps because of the bombing, Billy becomes “unstuck in time.” In his mind, he jumps back and forward in time from his birth and school days through his military service, marriage, fatherhood, airplane crash, and eventual death. He also is (or believes he has been) kidnapped by aliens from the plane Tralfamadore, who place him in a zoo and teach him the truths of the universe. Aside from the bombing of Dresden, which Vonnegut obviously thought was unnecessary and inhumane, even for war, the plot doesn’t matter as much as Vonnegut’s wry observations on life, death, and the silliness of human beings.

j
jeff1885
Aug 13, 2019

This is a book that has an acid trip in the middle of it. The switch from war to peace to an alien world keeps you attached. It also makes it a very fast 200+ page book. I finished it in just a few hours. Final judgement: It's a page turner.

onehalfofyouth Jan 16, 2019

SH-5 is the book I go back to the most. A favorite line from this story; "People would be surprised if they knew how much in this world were due to prayers."

b
becker
Jul 10, 2018

This book is smart and complex and has a big impact but I can't say I loved reading it. I found it quite difficult at times to absorb. There is so much delivery in these simply worded sentences. Add that to the constant time shifts and I became frustrated because I felt I was missing the point at times. It was like the concepts were too big for me to take in in the rapid fire form he uses where every sentence is a worthy or meaningful statement. It was bleak and tragic in a way that sometimes pulled at my heart and other times left me feeling numb and hopeless. He would suck the joy out of me in one paragraph and then throw in such a witty, dry one liner that you couldn't help but smile. It is a book about war and death and the concept of time and the questionable idea of humanity. Too much to take in with just one reading. I'll have to try it again one day but until then I can say I greatly admire Vonnegut.

SPPL_Kristen Mar 20, 2018

17 year old me was really into Vonnegut. 23 year old me is, too, but in a less obnoxious way (I hope).

b
Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

A tale of impossibilities, outrageous ironies, and tragic comedies of angst. I enjoyed the dark version of existentialism as a theme. There is also a dark take on humanity that provokes a sad sort of laughter (which is the only type of humor in this book): a serious message is followed by a meaningless, mundane observation (reminds me of the movie Ordinary People, which I recommend). Further, after a death, Vonnegut recognizes the deceased with the anticlimactic "And so it goes." Despite the good of the novel, I feel that either some of the messages of the novel were not effectively conveyed or they simply weren't there at all: there were several repeated phrases that had no meaning to me, as did the majority of the novel. If you like this book, I would recommend 1984 by George Orwell.

Vonnegut uses that neat trick so often employed by David Letterman; he repeats the same phrase over and over in different contexts until you find it uncontrollably funny. Aside from his insightful wit, he also manages to convey the absurdity of human conflict. So it goes.

ArapahoeJeremiah Aug 09, 2016

Not a typical sci-fi novel at all, but more of a literary-historical-memoir with sci-fi used as a rhetorical tool to enhance the main message/narrative. The story is partially autobiographical, of Vonnegut’s experience as a POW in WW2 in the German town of Dresden, and of the fire-bombing of this city by the Allies. The novel follows Billy Pilgrim as he experiences this same incident, and goes on to tell of his life afterwards, including his abduction by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, and his time on their world. The narrative moves back and forth in time, now that Billy has ability to time-travel to any moment of his life, and makes for very interesting reading. Written in Vonnegut’s very clever, laid back style, extremely sharp and sardonic, and full of humor. A very pleasurable and profound reading experience, dealing with very un-pleasurable topics. A modern classic.

t
tlovold
Mar 03, 2016

The beginning of the movie with Billy stumbling through the snow and music is unforgettable. It is my favorite part of the movie. The images stuck with me as I read the book. Great book and the movie was just as good, which is unusual. Only other movie that I enjoyed as much as the book was John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" with James Dean.

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Quotes

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jenniferzilm May 02, 2018

“And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.”

SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"All this happened, more or less."

d
ddmyres
Jun 16, 2013

"Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

3
3038462sme
May 22, 2013

"So it goes."

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cmlibrary_ecrites Jul 27, 2016

cmlibrary_ecrites thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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ckaldahl
May 31, 2015

ckaldahl thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Anarchy_Bunny
Sep 08, 2009

Anarchy_Bunny thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

Sexual Content: About a dozen innuendos and there is sex, but it is not described.

b
Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

Coarse Language: A few cuss words.

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