Slaughterhouse Five
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Slaughterhouse Five

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  603,618 ratings  ·  11,908 reviews
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 o...more
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published June 1st 1989 by Peter Smith Publisher (first published 1969)
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Simeon
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."
"
...more
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
Stephanie
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...more
Kirstie
Feb 15, 2008 Kirstie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
TK421
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...more
Dave Russell
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
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
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...more
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...more
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
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: 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...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...more
Steve
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
Lou
http://more2read.com/?review=slaughte...

Highly recommended novel that demands a re-read. I found a really good review that put it so much better in perspective. When I read it again in the not so distant future I will add my own thoughts but for now this readers review here does so much better justice to the story.


"Kurt Vonnegut uses a combination of dark humor and irony in Slaughterhouse-Five. As a result, the novel enables the reader to realize the horrors of war while simultaneously laughing...more
Alex
Powerful. Warped. Haunting.

I very much enjoyed reading this novel and its quirky narration, first beginning with Kurt Vonnegut himself, and then to his protagonist Billy Pilgrim, shifting seamlessly between past, present, and future, and finally back to Vonnegut. Surprisingly I didn't find the book difficult to follow like a similar WWII novel "Catch-22".

As we flit with Billy between various stages of his life, we begin to appreciate how broken his mind has become. The events of Billy's life al...more
Bram
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
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
Ian Paganus
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
Henry Avila
Billy Pilgrim is not just another time travelling man, kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore and put in their zoo.He's an eyewitness to the destruction of Dresden, during World War Two.Billy an optometrist, marries the boss's slightly overweight daughter Valencia(who no one else wanted) .The couple have two children,Barbara and Robert.The fact that he becomes very rich doesn't make him a bad guy.Lucky, I guess.Billy is no prize either .Tall, skinny weakling, an ordinary man .With a te...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
*sigh* Okay. I ... STRONGLY DISLIKED this book, for a handful of reasons. But honestly, I would never have picked this up on my own; I was assigned to read this for honors english class, and it's not something I would read normally. Not that I didn't give it a chance, because I did. I tried to like it. I really did. And for the first fifty or so pages, I was like, "Okay ... This isn't so bad I guess ..." But after a while, it just got so aggravating. The writing style started to drive me insane....more
Kelly
This was my first, and to date, only Vonnegut experience. I read this in my junior year of high school, tacked onto the end of the year. Mostly as an indulgence to my english teacher who was obsessed with Vonnegut and squeezing it in at the end of the year to have people to fanboy and geek out with after they'd read it. Then I read it and figured out why he was so obsessed. I have to say, this book yanked me firmly into modern literature. (At the time I was deep into my love for 18th and 19th ce...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
A Living Room capitalist entity was purchased by a dot.com Bubble Surviving capitalist entity. Policy? It's the same that it's always been--the policy will change according the needs of your owners. goodreads does not, never has, operated with a constitution. amazon is not, but could become, a workers’ collective or consumer cooperative. None of the recent events should come as a grave surprise to any of us. The choice we may have are two. One, become a dirty fucking hippie and flee into the woo...more
Moira Russell
I had a long elaborate theory about how the description of time travel in this book (all moments are eternal and frozen) actually corresponds (decades before the neurological research!) to the modern idea that the nervous system of someone with PTSD is essentially stuck in the moment of trauma, so it responds to any reminder of that trauma as if the event were still happening in the present, so in a sense it's always happening to/in the poor damaged brain. But I stayed up way too late finishing...more
Stephen
3.5 stars. An intelligent book about the absolute uselessness of war and its effect of people. Enjoyed the aliens with the philosophy that all things have already happened along the time stream and you can visit any time you wish.

Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1970)
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Mark
I began this book in one of those ' i really feel I ought to read it ' type ways and began it with mass trepidation. Its an extraordinarily disjointed book covering the leaps back and forth through time and space of Billy Pilgrim our time travelling hero who spends part of his life trapped in a alien zoo as exhibit one, part of his life as a soldier who is none too sure of where he will be when he next wakes up and part widower with a none too subtle line in patient care. Initially I was thinkin...more
[Name Redacted By Goodreads Because Irrelevant to Review]
FIRST REVIEW: Everyone has sung the praises of this book to me -- as well as those of Vonnegut in general -- for as long as I have been aware of reading. However I found both it and Vonnegut tiresome and excessively labored. He tries SO HARD to be hip and quirky and ironic, but the humor (such as it is) and the commentary (such as it is) just wind up feeling like dated relics of their time. The book has not aged well. It lacks the timeless feel of great literature, and doesn't even function for...more
Debby
"I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone." I do not feel so all alone.

"Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time...He has seen birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all events in between."

"Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops." Ah yes, the building blocks of life that make sense to Americans.

"She upset Billy simply by being his mother. She made him feel embaras...more
MJ Nicholls
Re-reading Kurt’s famous one for a third (or fourth?) time perhaps wasn’t the wisest move. Upon the third read, Billy Pilgrim’s antics have less of the time-hopping quirkiness and seem more cartoony, while Kurt’s prose comes across as simplistic to the point of patronising. From time to (un)time, his Dresden ramblings have the same sting as on the first read and his humanist humour, and his resigned peacenik stance still seems the best response to war horrors. His time on Tralfamadore also conta...more
Shurrn
I picked this up while suffering from the flu this week, so I hope that my memory of this book won't be tainted by how miserable I'm feeling. Equal parts comedy and poignant tragedy, its a story of effects of war like I've never read before. I'm still trying to decide if Billy Pilgrim was an ordinary man with a beautiful insanity, or a calmly resigned adventurer of time and space. I'll need to digest this book a little more before I can attempt to say for certain.
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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...
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“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” 3360 likes
“And so it goes...” 2519 likes
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