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Slaughterhouse Five

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  885,303 Ratings  ·  19,438 Reviews
Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, an ill-trained American soldier and his experience in World War II

War is inevitable, and it is absurd. The main theme of the book focuses on this. Billy Pilgrim is a prisoner-of-war at the hands of the Germans. He is captured and put in a disused slaughterhouse, which eventually proves to be a safe ‘shelter’ when his life
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Mass Market Paperback, alt cover dell 8029 0440080290, 215 pages
Published 1971 by Dell Publishing Co. (first published 1969)
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Mac I've thought a lot about this and I even have the phrase tattooed on my arm so my opinion doesn't matter any more than anyone else's I guess.

To me,…more
I've thought a lot about this and I even have the phrase tattooed on my arm so my opinion doesn't matter any more than anyone else's I guess.

To me, in a nutshell, it means the inexorable universe doesn't care one whit about our lives and it's up to us to make of them what we will. Sometimes that is a pretty poor showing and sometimes it's fantastic, so it goes. Sometimes awful things happen to innocent people, so it goes. Sometimes the most beautiful things happen to awful people, so it goes. Sometimes everything works out just the way we want it to, so it goes.

I really don't know, it's just me and my mind making things up. So it goes.(less)
Felicity Graham The whole point is the effect the event (Dresden) had on Billy - the question of whether he's imagining things, whether he's trying to escape, whether…moreThe whole point is the effect the event (Dresden) had on Billy - the question of whether he's imagining things, whether he's trying to escape, whether he thinks it's really real...it's about the personal toll of having that kind of memory seared into your being for the rest of your life.

No, it is not overrated.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Simeon
Aug 21, 2010 Simeon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some terrible reviews of SH5 floating around Goodreads, but one particularly awful sentiment is that Slaughterhouse-Five isn't anti-war.

This is usually based on the following quote.

"It had to be done," Rumfoord told Billy, speaking of the destruction of Dresden.
"I know," said Billy.
"That's war."
"I know. I'm not complaining"
"It must have been hell on the ground."
"It was," said Billy Pilgrim.
"Pity the men who had to do it."
"I do."
"You must have had mixed feelings, there on the ground."
"
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Stephanie
Apr 15, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, favorites, sci-fi, re-read
I miss Kurt Vonnegut.

He hasn't been gone all that long. Of course he isn't gone, yet he is gone. He has always been alive and he will always be dead. So it goes.

Slaughterhouse-five is next to impossible to explain, let alone review, but here I am. And here I go.

What is it about?

It's about war.
It's about love and hate.
It's about post traumatic stress.
It's about sanity and insanity.
It's about aliens (not the illegal kind, the spacey kind).
It's about life.
It's about death.
so it goes.

"That's one th
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Martine
I have to admit to being somewhat baffled by the acclaim Slaughterhouse-5 has received over the years. Sure, the story is interesting. It has a fascinating and mostly successful blend of tragedy and comic relief. And yes, I guess the fractured structure and time-travelling element must have been quite novel and original back in the day. But that doesn't excuse the book's flaws, of which there are a great many in my (seemingly unconventional) opinion. Take, for instance, Vonnegut's endless repeti ...more
Kirstie
Feb 15, 2008 Kirstie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people dealing with trauma
I read this book first in 1999 when my grandfather passed away. It was a bit of a coincidence as his funeral occurred between a Primate Anatomy exam and a paper for my Experimental Fiction class on Slaughterhouse Five. I was frantically trying to remember the names of all kinds of bones when I picked this up in the other hand and tried to wrap my head around it.


Basically, Vonnegut has written the only Tralfamadorian novel I can think of. These beings, most undoubtedly inspired in Billy Pilgrim's
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Garima

I finally read Vonnegut. I finally read a war novel. And after a long time I finally read something with so many GR ratings and a decent number of reviews which is precisely the reason I have nothing much to add to the already expressed views here. So I urge you to indulge me to state a personal anecdote. Thank You.

My Grandfather was a POW during Indo-China war and remained in confinement for some six months. By the time I got to know about it I had already watched too many movies and crammed en
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Bookdragon Sean
Every so often you read a book, a book that takes everything you thought created an excellent novel and tears it to pieces; it then sets it on fire and throws it out the window in a display of pure individual brilliance. That is how I felt when I read this jumbled and absurd, yet fantastic, novel.

The book has no structure or at the very least a perceivable one: it’s all over the place. But, it works so well. It cements the book’s message and purpose underlining its meaning. Indeed, this book is
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Matthias
Listen:

This reviewer is stuck in time. He is unable to escape the narrow confines of the invisible, intangible machinery mercilessly directing his life from a beginning towards an end. The walls surrounding him are dotted with windows looking out on darkened memories and foggy expectations, easing the sense of claustrophobia but offering no way out. The ceiling is crushing down on this man while he paces frantically through other people's lives and memories in hopes of shaping his own and forget
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TK421
Aug 13, 2009 TK421 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
There are only a few books that I ever really try to revisit. Sherlock Holmes and his stories are one. Some Shakespeare. And Slaughterhouse-Five.

I have read this book every year since my first reading almost ten years ago. I read it as an undergraduate; I read it as a graduate student. I've written three or four papers about it. And, yes, I have tried to pawn this book off on as many people as I could over the years.

You see, this book does something to me whenever I read it. It takes me places
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Henry Avila
Jun 06, 2012 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now for something completely different , stating it mildly ...Billy Pilgrim is not just another time travelling man, kidnapped by aliens from the unknown planet Tralfamadore and put in their zoo, he's an eyewitness to the destruction of Dresden, during World War Two. Our Billy an optometrist, (eye doctor) marries the boss's slightly overweight daughter Valencia (who no one else wanted, people are so unkind) . The couple have two disrespectful children, Barbara and Robert, the truth that he becom ...more
Cecily
A strange and intriguing book that I found very hard to rate: a mixture of wartime memoir and sci fi - occasionally harrowing, sometimes funny and other times thought-provoking.

PLOT
It is the episodic story of Billy Pilgrim, a small town American boy, who is a POW in the second world war, later becomes a successful optometrist and who occasionally and accidentally travels in time to other periods of his life, so he has "memories of the future". Oh, he also gets abducted by aliens, along with som
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Dan Schwent
Sep 21, 2014 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Billy Pilgrim becomes unstuck in time and experiences the events of his life out of chronological order. War and absurdity ensue.

I've never read Kurt Vonnegut up until now and when Slaughterhouse-Five showed up in my cheapo ebook email a few days ago, I decided it was time. Get it?

Slaughterhouse-Five is often classified as science fiction but it reads more like Kurt Vonnegut trying to make sense of his World War II experiences through a humorous (at times) science fiction story. It also seems to
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Glenn Sumi
This was my first Vonnegut book, but it won’t be my last.

Back in high school, a friend gave me a paperback copy of Breakfast Of Champions, and I leafed through it, amused at the drawings, but didn’t read it. (I think I was going through my Salinger stage… or perhaps it was my Dickens stage.) Now I want to find it in my boxes of old things. I want to read more from this strange, misanthropic (?), genre-busting, inventive and oddly soulful and philosophical author.

Slaughterhouse-Five has expanded
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Dave Russell
Mar 19, 2007 Dave Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Why do I love this book? I love it because of the villains. Not just the obviously villainous Paul Lazzaro--although he's one of the great villains of modern fiction. During the hellishness of war all he can think about is his own petty need to avenge slights done to him--but the larger, less obvious villains in this book: the Tralfamdorians. They’re not the type of villainous space aliens you see in most science fiction, arriving in flying saucers and hell bent on enslaving humanity, only to be ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Contains spoilers
Slaughterhouse-Five is about a man called Billy Pilgrim who time-travels frequently. He was in the Second World War and, captured, was sent to Dresden to work in a malt syrup factory before the city was bombed. He studied optometry and had a nervous breakdown. He married the daughter of a rich optometrist, and became rich as well. He was abducted by aliens called Tralfamadorians, who put him in a zoo with a young porn actress, Montana Wildhack, whom they also abducted. He had a
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Fabian
Nov 20, 2008 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Liana- its not ALL testosterone!
No one really introduced me to this work, despite its resonant presence in the literary canon.

I adore books that reek of marvelous postmodern perfume. This is one original, enthralling, always-relevant novel. Vonnegut is brave and cowardly because he makes the material his own, yet he is but scenery... his main character is an Everyman who is sooo affected by the Dresden bombings that he "becomes unglued from time." Yes: war is complete, utter chaos... it becomes something more powerful than ph
...more
Darwin8u
“Everything is nothing, with a twist.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

description

I've read Slaughterhouse-Five several times and I'm still not sure I know exactly how Vonnegut pulls it off. It is primarily a postmodern, anti-war novel. It is an absurd look at war, memory, time, and humanity, but it is also gentle. Its prose emotionally feels (go ahead, pet the emotion) like the tug of the tides, the heaviness of sleep, the seduction of alcohol, the dizziness of love. His prose is simple, but beautiful
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Seemita
Kurt Vonnegut. Four syllables, once pronounced, suspends in the air like a rock star swishing his name into the air for chanters to latch on and treble the echo. Slaughter-House Five, god knows how many syllables (depending on stress-points of your tongue), once sprinkled from the nozzle of mouth, hangs again in the air like a vagabond wrapper not finding a parapet to land. Perhaps both could have gone their way and not bothered to float into my fairly tranquil world. But they chose to break the ...more
Jason
A disturbingly comedic (or comically disturbing?) satire of the inevitability of war, the age old fate vs. free will argument, and the gross desensitization of death, Slaughterhouse-Five analyzes the effects of the Bombing of Dresden on World War II veteran Billy Pilgrim. Told in a nonlinear narrative that is common for Vonnegut, this novel employs the rare literary device I like to call “Twilight Zone–ish extraterrestrialism,” which serves to highlight both the absurdity of free will as well as ...more
Lyn
Jul 18, 2011 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun visit with cantankerous old Uncle Kurt.

Vonnegut is on a short list of my favorite authors and this is perhaps his most famous work. Not his best, but most recognizable. Billy Pilgrim is also one of his best characters.

(Kilgore Trout is his best).

I liked it as I like everything I have read of him. The recurring themes and characters, use of repetition for emphasis and comic relief, his irreverence and postmodern lack of sensitivity shine bright as ever here.

Vonnegut can be funny and grim
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Samadrita
Neither does a war bring glory nor does a win in one ensure the moral infallibility of an ideology over a conflicting one. Because, essentially, war justifies countering genocide by perpetrating more genocide. We all know that, right?

But no, we don't. We only think we do.
And that is what Kurt Vonnegut wishes to tell his reader, in a calm, disinterested and emotionless voice in Slaughterhouse-Five.
He informs us, in a matter-of-fact tone, that we don't know the first thing about a war and proceed
...more
Raeleen Lemay
Sep 03, 2011 Raeleen Lemay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
WHAT A STRANGE BOOK.

I definitely didn't love it, but there were certain parts that I adored. The Tralfamadorians have a really interesting view of life and Earth (the 4th dimension, bro... WHOA) and I really liked the parts that involved them.
William1
Mar 24, 2011 William1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
The novel is a fabulist take on the destruction of Dresden—the Florence of the Elbe, the Jewel Box—by Allied Bombing at the end of World War II. Author Vonnegut witnessed the mayhem as a 23-year old American POW. There are no characters here, really. Billy Pilgrim and the others are flat flat flat. Vonnegut's point being that the suffering brought on by the war dehumanized and diminished everyone to one-dimensionality.

 photo QA6I6_zps64vqez3j.jpg

It's an interesting idea and a perfect match for his spare style. I remember
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Jr Bacdayan
I was eating a hotdog right after reading Slaughterhouse-Five, and as I was contemplating on what to write for my review, I was suddenly attacked by a bunch of three-headed toads. They called themselves "the three-headed toads" and they wore Mexican sombreros and Nickelback t-shirts. They were roughly the size of Peter Dinklage and were colored from neon pink to dark orange. For some unknown reason, their leader named Pedro the Pope decided to declare war on hotdog eating humans. I was tragicall ...more
Jilly
Jul 08, 2017 Jilly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This book in a nutshell:


After just reading another classic, my son came up to me and asked me to buddy-read this one with him. Then, my daughter said she would join us. What am I supposed to say to that? "I'm sorry, my children. I know that you would be greatly enriched by reading classic literature and having a literary discussion with me, but I would rather read about vampires having sex. Now, go get mommy some wine and then lock yourselves in your rooms to play video games." Seriously? Like I
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Traveller

Kurt Vonnegut experienced the WW2 fire-bombing of Dresden as a private in the US army.
He says of the experience: "There is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre" - and this is effectively communicated in the deliberate anti-climax to Slaughterhouse 5.

I seem to find myself pretty ambivalent towards Vonnegut. I like his pacifist leanings, and I find his use of an anti-hero and anticlimax as well as his ideas on time interesting.

Vonnegut manages to convey the disorienting effect of horror p
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Bram
Jan 26, 2010 Bram rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This novel has a pretty basic and consistent structure: a few paragraphs of humorous (I think) writing that has the presumed purpose of loosening you up before you get to the sucker-punch paragraph that contains something disturbing/death-related followed by "so it goes." And if the "so it goes" wasn't there to remind you that this is the part where death happens, Vonnegut hammers the point home by relaying it an inhumanly cool, dry, and nonchalant manner. How coy and provocative. Maybe Vonnegut ...more
Sanjay Gautam
Nov 03, 2014 Sanjay Gautam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ITS A BOOK WRITTEN FOR EARTHLINGS.

An amazing journey through space and time. One of the stronger points in the book deals with free will and time.

There is a beautiful line which I want to quote here:

" 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".

And so it goes...

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy
The Florence of the Elbe

Kurt Vonnegut tells us in an epigraph, “This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from. Peace.”

This much is true. Stylistically, it’s unique. It jumps all over the place, not to mention all over time.

The story-telling is cumulative and simultaneous, rather than linear and sequential.

Maybe this is the only appropriate way to tell a story about the firebombing of the open city, Dresde
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
375. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
عنوان: سلاخخانه شماره 5 ؛ نویسنده: کورت ونهگات؛ انتشاراتیها: روشنگران و مطالعات زنان؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: نوزدهم ماه می سال 2011 میلادی
عنوان: سلاخخانه شماره پنج ؛ نویسنده: کورت ونه گات؛ مترجم: علی اصغر بهرامی، تهران، روشنگران، 1372؛ در 263 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: 1380؛
چاپ بعدی 1381؛ شابک: 9646751490؛ چاپ ششم 1389؛ موضوع: جنگ جهانگیر دوم - از سال 1939 تا سال 1945 میلادی - قرن 20 م
کورت ونه گات: زادروز: 11 نوامبر 1922، ایندیاناپولیس، ایالت ایندیانا، درگذشت: 11 آوریل 200
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Steve
Aug 20, 2007 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Soon after Vonnegut died quite a few stories were circulated about his real-life experiences as a POW in Dresden during WWII. Billy, the book’s main character, survived the firebombing just as Vonnegut did. Both recognized the good fortune of their underground prison vantage point when the flames incinerated the city above. Both had plenty to cope with, too. In telling Billy’s story, Vonnegut connects several themes. Not surprisingly, “war is hell” is one of them. Some of the other points set th ...more
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Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali
...more
More about Kurt Vonnegut Jr....

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“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” 4835 likes
“And so it goes...” 3614 likes
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