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Armageddon in Retrospect

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  8,896 Ratings  ·  756 Reviews
To be published on the first anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut's death, Armageddon in Retrospect is a collection of twelve new and unpublished writings on war and peace, imbued with Vonnegut's trademark rueful humor.
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 2008)
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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutCat's Cradle by Kurt VonnegutBreakfast of Champions by Kurt VonnegutThe Sirens of Titan by Kurt VonnegutMother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut's Best
38 books — 543 voters
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyEast of Eden by John SteinbeckHomo Faber by Max FrischI'm Not Stiller by Max FrischNight Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Rumi's reads
48 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jason Koivu
Mar 14, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, non-fiction
War is a funny thing. That's what Vonnegut would have us believe. He is right. He also realizes that there is nothing funny about war. It's a conflicting juxtaposition and yet it is true.

Armageddon in Retrospect sat in the to-be-read pile for a good long while. I haven't read much Vonnegut since school, when probably about 9 out of 10 Vonnegut readers read his work, but I do enjoy reading him. Nonetheless, I dreaded this. The title alone told me it would be dreary and the title, for the most pa
Jul 22, 2008 Bruce rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bruce by: Trevor Nagle
I often wonder how readers who did not come of age in the sixties view Kurt Vonnegut. I did, and he was iconic. How many times since then I have reread Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five with the same enjoyment I did when they were first published. Vonnegut's novels are deceptive; one has the feeling that one is reading something light, flippant, and ultimately insubstantial only to find the plots and characters remain with one for years afterward.

I approached this short collection of his unpu
There's a great introduction by Vonnegut's son & the book is read by Rip Torn, a favorite actor of mine.

It's pretty interesting. The point of 'Sirens', as put forth by David in #18, seems to have been echoed by Vonnegut's son in a completely unrelated chat between the two shortly before Kurt's death. It's worth reading, if only for the intro.

The first story was a speech he gave in 2007 & that seems to have set the tone. The stories so far are OK, but Vonnegut's Dresden horror stories ma
Apr 08, 2008 cory rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: my kids
Quoting the author:

"And now please note that I have raised my right hand. And that means that I'm not kidding, that whatever I say next I believe to be true. So here it goes: The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime wasn't our contribution to the defeat of the Nazis, in which I played such a large part, or Ronald Reagan's overthrow of Godless Communism, in Russia at least.

The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime is how African-American citizens hav
Oct 20, 2008 John rated it liked it
Vonnegut’s harrowing essay on the Dresden bombing, “Wailing Shall Be in All Streets,” is the highlight and centerpiece of this collection, and one of the best works of anti-war art I’ve read—something like the literary equivalent of Francisco Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’ series. This previously unpublished work is undated, but has the immediacy and urgency of an open wound. Dresden was the last major German city to escape bombing because there was nothing combative about it; it was a city of hospit ...more
Ben Babcock
Apr 05, 2012 Ben Babcock rated it really liked it
After two somewhat disappointing books, I finally picked up a book I’ve had since at least my birthday. My experience with Kurt Vonnegut remains slimmer than I’d like, with most of it locked away in adolescent memories now slipping beyond the horizon of my mind. So it feels a little odd to be reading Armageddon in Retrospect, theoretically his last work (unless his estate publishes more unpublished tidbits), already. But I did, and I don’t regret it. Clap me in irons if you must!

I’m at a loss fo
Steven Burt
May 23, 2008 Steven Burt rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has read Slaughterhouse Five
I finished "Armageddon in Retrospect" a few weeks ago. It was really good. I often wonder about works published posthumously, particularly when the works had been kicking around for a while before the author died.

Did the author want them to be published? Is there a reason they weren't published while they were alive?

I graduated from Law School just over one year ago, and it seems that in every different area of law there is a seminal case, the first that you read for the first day of class beca
Apr 19, 2009 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Harley King, Vonnegut fans
I love this book because it offers so much - it's a buffet of essays, artistic sketches and short stories by a writer who managed to stay relevant and fresh into his late 80's. Some may be skeptical of the quality of work because the book was collected and published posthumously, but there's no need to fear that this is just another paycheck for the publisher. Most of the contents stand up with the rest of Vonnegut's work, which is to say, he paints pictures here with words of a humorous, horrib ...more
Corey Pung
Jun 12, 2012 Corey Pung rated it really liked it
Somehow, over the years, people have started using the phrase “bleeding-heart liberal” as if it were a bad thing. In Armageddon in Retrospect, a posthumous collection of essays and stories, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. comes off as a bleeding-heart liberal in the best sense of the term.

There’s a distinction to be made between the bleeding-heart liberal and the hardline leftist. Both are useful and valuable in their own way. For an example of the more hardened individual, let’s look to my idol Christopher H
MJ Nicholls
Feb 15, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine collection of posthumous writings, themed around Kurt's wartime experiences in Dresden. There are some truly essential stories here, among them 'Just You & Me, Sammy' and the wonderfully crafty 'The Commandant's Desk.'
This collection of short stories on the topic of war was written throughout his career and released after his death. The stories vary widely in quality from absolutely hilarious, heartbreakingly sad, to rather mediocre (the majority of them.) Although the short stories are the bulk of the book but what makes this a must have for any Vonnegut fan is his nonfiction account of the bombing of Dresden, addressed in far more detail than any of his writings in the past (many of the short stories are al ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it
Armageddon In Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut
I read this in about 48 hours in Prague and was
perfect to be read whilst sitting on our window
ledge overlooking the Old Town Square and
opposite the Astronomical Clock.
This is the Second Book Kurt has put out since
he died, why let death get in the way of a good
It was also the second book of our trip to be
set at least in part in Czechoslovakia as it is
one of the places Kurt writes about in this
collection of unpublished short stories on the
May 26, 2008 Gerry rated it it was ok
This collection of unpublished Vonnegut short stories demonstrates why they were never published when he was alive: they aren't very good. The only interesting item in Armageddon in Retrospect is a reproduction of the letter he wrote to his family after being freed as a POW in WWII, where he was forced carry the dead to bonfires following the bombing of Dresden. The letter hints at the writer he'd become: a dry humorist with a seemingly unpolished style who tackled great moral questions.

The onl
May 28, 2008 Andy rated it liked it
Shelves: own
This was kind of disappointing. The stories were generally good, though a lot of them were kind of same-y, about his time in the army, in a wrapper of fiction. But the book kicks off with a commencement speech he was to deliver, but died before he did. It was just depressing. He was angry, disheveled, and not funny. He was just angry, without seeing any way things could be better.

I don't know if the stories were old, and just unpublished, or written somewhat recently, but I was also disappointed
Feb 06, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Short story fans, KV fans
About halfway through this short collection, I was fairly unimpressed. Not that it was bad, unpublishable tripe that made it only because of Vonnegut's name, but because it just seemed unnecessary, and I felt it had all been said by him already. But I kept reading and am glad I did, because the second half of the book is much stronger. My favorites were 'The Unicorn Trap', 'Just You and Me, Sammy' and the title story, 'Armaggedon in Retrospect.' I also found 'Brighten Up' to be well written, but ...more
Mar 20, 2014 Mina rated it it was amazing
This was my introduction to Vonnegut. I think I fell in love with his writing.
Stephen Kozeniewski
Feb 28, 2015 Stephen Kozeniewski rated it it was amazing
In an anecdote in the book's introduction, Mark Vonnegut relates how his father once asked, "Does anybody who's graduated high school even read me anymore anyway?" As asked by Kurt, it's meant to be a sign of insecurity, and as related by Mark, it's meant to be ironic, because of course they do. And yet, as with any joke, there's more than a kernel of truth.

I read Vonnegut's best in high school. Odds are you did, too. Because they're books that speak to the young about the futility and hypocrisy
Paul Cockeram
Aug 04, 2015 Paul Cockeram rated it really liked it
Opening books published by loving family members after a writer's death can be like opening a trunk discovered in someone else's attic. The fantasies of what is inside rarely match the reality, and there's always a danger of finding oneself elbow-deep in unwanted junk. In this case, Mark Vonnegut is the relative who curated and edited these heretofore unpublished pieces by his father Kurt. The introduction proves Mark is a fine writer, and the quality of this work proves he's a tasteful curator, ...more
Sep 21, 2016 Bart rated it really liked it
Shelves: speculative, reviewed
Armageddon in Retrospect and Other New and Unpublished Writings on War and Peace was published exactly one year after Kurt Junior Vonnegut’s death on April 11, 2007. It’s a diverse collection: a moving 10 page introduction by his son Mark, a horrifically blunt 3 page letter from Kurt to his family, dated May 29, 1945 – written in Germany right after the war, a speech he was supposed to deliver on April 27, 2007 in Indianapolis, and – the bulk of the book – 11 short stories, undated, ranging from ...more
May 14, 2009 Harley rated it really liked it
If you have not read any of Kurt Vonnegut's books, this is not the place to start. This book is for those who love to read everything he has written. It is a posthumous collection of short stories, a letter, an essay and a speech that were previously unpublished. The central theme is war and soldiers.

Kurt's son, Mark, wrote an excellent introduction. The first sentence reads: "Writing was a spiritual exercise for my father, the only thing he really believed in." I love this sentence because I th
Sep 24, 2016 Luis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novela
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 01, 2012 Will rated it really liked it
I didn’t like this book at the outset. There are some better pieces like Wailing Shall Be in All Streets, The Commandant’s Desk, and the story the book’s title is borrowed from, Armageddon in Retrospect, the last of which probably most closely represents the Vonnegut we know and love. But a lot of the others come off as flat and lacking nuance, almost like childhood parables. It was odd reading stories where Vonnegut fell back on hackneyed techniques, and without dates to provide a sense of prog ...more
Apr 18, 2015 Katie rated it it was amazing
I remembered Vonnegut being funny and clever. I didn't remember his satires being so humanitarian and dare I say sweet? Very few other people show such clear vision of their societies' absurdities, and even fewer can use humor to make such vision bearable for so many readers. Perhaps it's because these stories draw from his wartime experiences, and who (now) could see the bombing of Dresden, for example, as anything but ludicrous?

This book starts with the last speech he'd written; if nothing el
Jul 23, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I definitely have a bias toward his work, so take the review with that in mind. Although the bulk of these were written in response to the author's experiences in World War II, they still ring frighteningly true today filled with the futility and human expense of war and mankind's belief that they are superior to all and each group superior to each other. The title story fits this best with its characters experiencing a world in great upheaval with news outlets only carrying remarkably violent n ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Kaethe rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, stories, scifi
It's breaking my heart. I have no idea when these stories and cetera were written, except the letter sent soon after the bombing of Dresden, but I think these haven't been published because they don't hold out much hope.

My favorite Vonnegut novels are Galapagos and Bluebeard, both of which seem to say that no matter how badly we screw up, there is the possibility that we can do good, the very essence of secular humanism, I suppose. These stories all seem to say "we're screwed."


I want to finis
Dec 05, 2008 Ned rated it really liked it
As a fan of Kurt Vonnegut for over 40 years I really enjoyed this final book, published posthumously of previously unpublished essays. They are classic Vonnegut, showing the same craftsmanship as his earlier published works. For me, his great talent was leaving the reader unaware of the thought and polish that went into his writing, which often seems on the surface to be just casual story telling.

The forward, offered by his son Mark, revealed that Kurt passed on more than just his genes as he is
Oct 23, 2009 Ed rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Die-hard Vonnegut fans
I have always admired Kurt Vonnegut and liked his writing. I'm not sure about this collection of essays, speeches, short stories and what-all.

For one thing, I acquired the audio version and listened to it while driving. I think I might have appreciated the work more if I had read it rather than listened to it. Rip Torn, whose acting I admire, narrated and was almost laughable but not in a good way, especially when doing accents and dialects.

The volume contains a number of un-published writings.
Andrew Georgiadis
“If gas chambers were set up on European street corners, they’d have longer queues than the bakeries. When does all the hate end? Never.” (p198)

The posthumously published “Armageddon in retrospect” reveals even more deeply the personal experiences of KV’s harrowing time as a POW in Dresden.

The short story “Unknown Soldier” is one of the most intensely personal and telling, and though not war-related per se, reflect the sharp cynical lens he used to view everything after Dresden. “Just you and m
May 12, 2008 Sibyl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Coffee shop motor mouths
Post-Mortem collections published by family members in an
attempt to create a tribute or a final goodbye for their
famous relatives often leave you wondering if the deceased
is somewhere shaking their 'heads'.

In this case, I'm sure Vonnegut would roll his eyes as thousands of die-hard 'fans' of his work read through the stories searching for some 'goodbye' to the world.

Thankfully, Vonnegut never wrote such a piece a of crap.

These stories put you in a silent place and give the current batch of h
Apr 05, 2008 Josh rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
What can one possibly say about Mr. Vonnegut? Hilarious? Yes. Honesty taken to extremes? Absolutely.

This collection of unpublished short stories borders on the amazing. Unlike his two other short story collections, this is a finely tuned treatise on the most overwhelming subject of Kurt's last years, war. Specifically, the ramifications of war on human life as explored in a slew of stories.

I could go into the specifics of each story, but I leave it to you to read and find yourself lost in the w
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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
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“My advice to writers just starting out? Don't use semi-colons! They are transvestite hermaphrodites, representing exactly nothing. All they do is suggest you might have gone to college.” 51 likes
“He often said he had to be a writer because he wasn't good at anything else. He was not good at being an employee. Back in the mid-1950's, he was employed for Sports Illustrated, briefly. He reported back to work, was asked to write a short piece on a racehorse that jumped over a fence and tried to run away. Kurt stared at the blank piece of paper all morning and then typed, "The horse jumped over the fucking fence," and walked out, self-employed again.” 21 likes
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