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Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut's masterpiece, "a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century" ( Time ), featuring a new...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

A little confusing but eye-opening nonetheless

When I began reading this book up until the end I was thrown off by the different characters, POVs and general plot of the book. Billy Pilgrim is an endearing character with lots of eye-opening texts and views of the world. But nonetheless, I was jerked around every time he would "travel" in time and even more so when Kurt would use his own voice in the book. But if you're looking for a book that gives you a new perspective on life and death and the meaning we give to those terms and concepts this book may be for you. I know I gained a lot of perspectives reading it - especially having experienced a death during the time I read this book.

Trippy

Vonnegut tells his tales through time breaks and dream sequences that flow seamlessly together to create a trippy and fun journey through the life of the main character. While he's exploring another planet or enduring war, Vonnegut writes a fascinating and thought-provoking look at what makes us human and what makes life worth living. It's a classic read and a fun ride.

An amazing journey through space and time

Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Slaughterhouse Five" is one of those great books that defies easy classification. A blend of science fiction, satire, and war fiction, it is both fun and grim. The book tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, an optometrist, World War II veteran, and apparent UFO abductee who becomes "unstuck in time." We accompany Billy back and forth from his wartime experiences to his encounters with aliens and to other events in his remarkable life."Slaughterhouse" is greatly enlivened by a colorful, richly imagined cast of supporting characters: American-turned-Nazi Howard W. Campbell, movie star Montana Wildhack, and more. But probably the most resonant of these amazing creations is Kilgore Trout, the underappreciated science fiction writer.The book has an intriguing structure. Vonnegut's prose is a joy to experience: he combines a sort of Hemingwayesque simplicity with a knack for rendering startling, and often ridiculous, details. He is often very ironic and funny. Along the way, he explores ideas about free will and the nature of time. Much of the book is about writing itself.In this book there is an intriguing reference to Stephen Crane's classic "The Red Badge of Courage"; perhaps this reference is Vonnegut's way of directly connecting with the tradition of American war fiction. But this book transcends that genre. "Slaughterhouse Five" is sad, surreal, whimsical, brutal, and oddly gentle. It's a remarkable book; I highly recommend it. As an interesting companion text, try "The Things They Carried," Tim O'Brien's excellent book about the Vietnam War.

Worth all five stars

Slaughter House Five deserves its reputation of being a piece of great American literature. The book follows a young man, Billy Pilgrim through his life. Billy believes aliens, tralfamadorians to be exact, have abducted him. We assume that it's through these aliens that he learns to time travel, a skill he frequently uses. In the book Pilgrim bounces around time to all the various portions of his life, many times returning to World War II where he was captured, taken prisoner, and held in slaughterhouse five in Dresden, Germany. He seems to be defined by this moment in his life as he frequently returns there. If you know anything about Vonnegut, you know that he too was held in Dresden, Germany when the city was firebombed. This is the major setup for this antiwar novel as Dresden was home to over 100,000 persons while at the same time Dresden didn't have any industry lending itself to the war effort. Obviously you wander, "Then why was this city bombed? What advantage came from killing well over 100,000 thousand civilians?"One of the major themes of the book is fate. The prayer of serenity appears twice in the book stating that we need to change the things we can and be wise enough to know which things we cannot change. Also the Tralfamadorians speak of fate. They say they know how the universe is going to end, but they do nothing to stop it. Vonnegut seems to say that yes, war is one of those things we cannot avoid, but we need to change the things we can about it, like the atrocious bombing of Dresden.Overall, the book's message is clear, and Vonnegut delivers his message in a very accessible way. The story of Billy Pilgrim is enjoyable to read, and contains more than dry philosophy that some antiwar novels are filled with.

Essential in many ways

This novel is essential in many ways. It is undoubtedly one of the best-written, most well respected novels of the 20th century (No. 6 on the list that was a compilation of all the other lists) and is, therefore, essential to your understanding of 20th century fiction. If you have never read Vonnegut, this book should be the first one you read: it is the most famous and one of the best and really captures the essence of Vonnegut. Finally, despite its literary merit, this is a FUN book to read. You will laugh, you will think, but, most of all, you will enjoy reading it and you will finish it FAST.This should be your introduction to Vonnegut. I've found that true Vonnegut fans don't often choose Slaughterhouse-Five as their favorite, but, instead choose one of Vonnegut's other wonders (Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle, Sirens of Titan, etc.). I think that most would agree that this is a good jumping off point, just as, in music, people often start with Greatest hits albums and then work from there.Only Vonnegut could make such a strange premise believable and emotional. The book shifts time and place from paragraph to paragraph without warning. It is about aliens and WWII. It all works so perfectly, however and is so profound to those who read carefully. Billy Pilgrim is one of the great characters in all of literature.Don't be scared off by aliens and the weird premise. It works better than 99% of so-called "normal" books. Absolutely ESSENTIAL.thanks {{{milo}}}

Aliens and Predestination? Oh My!!!

Kurt Vonnegut creates an intricate and creative story of science fiction while still writing an anti-war novel. " Slaughterhouse-Five " focuses on an incredibly silly character named Billy Pilgrim. After a series of tragic events, aliens called Tralfamadorians abduct Pilgrim. These aliens have the ability to travel to any moment in time whenever they wish. They teach Pilgrim how to travel through time and we find him constantly traveling back and forth through his own life at random. We find Pilgrim one moment reliving the firebombing of Dresden and on the very next page teeing off at a country club ten years later. Incidents exactly like this can be found adorned through the book along with Vonnegut's distinct wit and black humor. One of the stronger points in the book deals with free will and predestination. Billy Pilgrim and the aliens believe that everyone's life is set in stone and everything that we do was destined to happen. One Tralfamadorian tells Pilgrim, I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will." If such a thing were true then obviously the notion of free will is nothing more than human imagination used to fool ourselves. Thought provoking subjects such as this grab the reader's attention and never lets go. Although the writing style is a bit strange and takes time to get used to, Vonnegut manages to weave an intricately detailed world of laughter, war horrors, and moral issues. Slaughterhouse-Five is a truly creative and incredibly entertaining read which comes highly recommended.

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Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death in Celebrating Banned Books During Banned Books Week
Celebrating Banned Books During Banned Books Week
Published by Karen DeGroot Carter • September 27, 2020

Since its launch in 1982, Banned Books Week has helped raise awareness of the many literary works that have been banned and/or challenged by individuals and groups across the U.S. through the years. To start the week off, let's take a look at some of the most frequently-challeneged or removed books from the last 20 years.

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death in In Honor of Banned Books Week, Let's Ban Banning Books Once and for All
In Honor of Banned Books Week, Let's Ban Banning Books Once and for All
Published by Beth Clark • September 24, 2018

Okay, maybe we can’t eliminate censorship (yet...#goals), but we can celebrate Banned Books Week with gusto by reading all of the stories that someone (or someones) tried to silence, destroy, or restrict access to. Here are 50 of the most frequently banned and/or most recently challenged books, along with the "who, why, and how" of literary censorship in America.

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