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Slaughterhouse Five or the Children's Crusade : A Duty Dance With Death
by Kurt Vonnegut

215 pages Reissue edition (December 1991)
Dell Pub Co; ISBN: 0440180295


Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Don't let the ease of reading fool you--Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..." Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy--and humor.

articles and reviews
March 31, 1969
Books of The Times
At Last, Kurt Vonnegut's Famous Dresden Book

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an indescribable writer whose seven previous books are like nothing else on earth, was accorded the dubious pleasure of witnessing a 20th-century apocalypse. During World War II, at the age of 23, he was captured by the Germans and imprisoned beneath the city of Dresden, "the Florence of the Elbe." He was there on Feb. 13, 1945, when the Allies firebombed Dresden in a massive air attack that killed 130,000 people and destroyed a landmark of no military significance.

Next to being born, getting married and having children, it is probably the most important thing that ever happened to him. And, as he writes in the introduction to "Slaughterhouse-Five," he's been trying to write a book about Dresden ever since. Now, at last, he's finished the "famous Dresden book." [read more]

 

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