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Johnny Got His Gun

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  24,074 Ratings  ·  1,593 Reviews
This was no ordinary war. This was a war to make the world safe for democracy. And if democracy was made safe, then nothing else mattered--not the millions of dead bodies, nor the thousands of ruined lives...This is no ordinary novel. This is a novel that never takes the easy way out: it is shocking, violent, terrifying, horrible, uncompromising, brutal, remorseless and gr ...more
Paperback, 243 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Citadel (first published 1939)
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Stansherman No comparison...Johnny Got His Gun is the Bible of anti-war literature.
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Oct 23, 2007 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone feeling sorry for themselves
I read this book during my lunch breaks at the cafe of Barnes & Noble in Chelsea, NYC. I think I finished it in five sittings, with great big tears rolling down my face. While everybody around me was busy quaffing scalding hot lattes, I was trying to muffle the sounds of my agonized weeping into my scarf. Luckily, this is not seen as strange behavior in Manhattan, so I was able to finish the book unmolested.

Johnny Got His Gun sounds like it was written during the early stages of the Vietnam
Bill  Kerwin
Jun 18, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A scathing anti-war novel, in which the main character is one of the profoundly, hopelessly wounded, the human wrecks of war.

It is told in the first person, by the voice of a person now voiceless, trapped in his mutilated body, confined to his hospital bed, and--as this person virtually unable to communicate communicates with the reader, telling us his story--we come to realize the true cost--and futility--of war.

This is an angry, honest book. Thoroughly memorable.
Esteban del Mal
Mar 01, 2011 Esteban del Mal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, fiction, americana, war
What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs in the water?


What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs on a porch?


What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs on skis?


What do you call a novel about a guy who has no arms and no legs because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Johnny Got His Gun.


This works best as a character sketch. As poor Jon Bonham's consciousness recalls the events of his childhood, he simultaneously realizes he has missing append
Mme. Bookling ~
Sep 04, 2007 Mme. Bookling ~ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with breath
Every time I read a book, I feel committed to it as if to a relationship. That relationship can be an infatuational fling, a carnal attraction, a passionate love, a committed best friend, a life partner...whatever form it takes will depend on how much I will remember it. Johnny Got His Gun got completely under my skin.

I was finishing the last page on an airplane and an 80 year old yoga teacher looked at me and quietly summed up this book. "I remember reading that. It blew my mind..." She had rea
I read this several years ago and I remember enjoying it. It was dark and frustrating - what would you do if trapped in your own body?

Also addresses the brutality of war as one on the outside might not understand.

What I thought of the most while reading it was the footage from the movie version that was used in the Metallica video for "One"

Lubinka Dimitrova
What a kick in the guts! As many have already pointed out, this should be a required reading for all those who sit in their nice sunny offices and send other people's kids to war...
I've discovered Trumbo very late, but fortunately not too late.
Jan 02, 2016 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unforgettable: one of the most original, clever and powerful novels I’ve ever read

Johnny Got His Gun was first published on 3 September 1939, two days after Germany invaded Poland, and is about a 20-year-old American infantryman Joe Bonham who suffers a direct hit from a German shell in the last days of the Great War. Unsurprisingly, its powerful anti-war message also had a profound effect on Americans during the Vietnam era.

Dalton Trumbo conveys this anti-war message across 20 short chapters, e
Nick Jonick
Sep 16, 2016 Nick Jonick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, usa
Ενα βιβλιο πραγματική γροθιά στο στομάχι!
Ενας Αμερικανος στρατιώτης του Α' παγκοσμιου πολέμου μένει χωρις άκρα, φωνή, ακοή, όραση και όσφρηση. Οι γιατροί τον κρατούν ζωντανό σε ένα δωματιο ενώ αυτός αναπολεί στιγμές της ζωής του.
Ενας εξαιρετικός συγγραφεας, ο Ντάλτον Τράμπο, γραφει ένα βαθιά ανθρώπινο, αντιπολεμικό, υπαρξιακό μυθιστορημα.
Για να μην μακρυγορω, το βιβλίο γαμάει.
Συγκλονιστικό, θα μου μείνει αξέχαστο.

Now the world is gone, I’m just one
Oh God
Mar 30, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mary by: Mark
Shelves: fiction, 2013
Johnny rips its own heart out and throws it in your face. It's a nightmare. A freak show. It's claustrophobic and uncomfortable. It's so fucking necessary.
Nandakishore Varma
Sep 25, 2015 Nandakishore Varma marked it as to-read
I simply have to read this book. It, including its author, has been cussed by Ann Coulter on her latest blog post. That is recommendation enough for me!
Μανώλης Σιμιτσάκης
Με αφορμή τη συμπλήρωση 40 ετών από τον θάνατο του συγγραφέα και τη βαθιά συγκίνηση που μου προσέφερε αυτό το βιβλίο, το βαθμολογώ ξανά και παραθέτω και ένα άρθρο που έγραψα για αυτό.

«Αγόρι μου, πάρε το όπλο σου και φάε αυτούς τους μπάσταρδους»

Όλα κρύβονται μέσα σε αυτήν την φράση, φίλε μου. Πονηρή κι ακέραια, ύπουλη και αμέτοχη σε έναν κόσμο που η ευθύνη της πράξεως εύκολα μεταβιβάζεται μέσω ρόλων που εξυπηρετεί ο καθένας μας. Και σήμερα φοράς τον ρόλο που πρέπει να πολεμήσεις για την πατρίδα
Jan 31, 2016 Connie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Connie by: BYT group read
Author Dalton Trumbo was inspired by a newspaper story about a Canadian soldier in World War I who had lost all his limbs and all his senses except for the sense of touch. He created Joe Bonham, a soldier whose mind was still active, but who was unable to communicate with the outside world except for tapping his head. The story takes us inside Joe's head to his stream of consciousness thoughts, sometimes thinking about ideologies and often flashing back to the past. For example, his thoughts go ...more
Feb 27, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 24, 2016 Krbo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sad mi je teško precizirati godinu čitanja jer sam čitao BIGZ-ovo izdanje iz 1973. no ne odmah kako je izašlo. Ta izdanja zvana "Fest" su odlične knjižice i trudio sam se sve ih pohvatati - jedino sam "Odiseju 2001" trenutno kupio čim je izašla.

Kako i naslov serije kaže to su knjige po kojima su filmovi snimljeni tako da su i one same bile zabavnije jer je bilo stranica sa scenama iz filma. Koliko se sjećam sve sam ja njih pročitao (Serpico, Konje ubijaju zar ne, Psi od slame, Vrt ...., Frenezij
Mar 30, 2016 Luciano rated it really liked it
Reading this book really makes you realize that war is real. It isn't the crisp uniforms of army officers, the fast, air force jets, or the big boom of navy guns that we see in commericals for the armed forces; images that paint a distorted picture of the reality of war.

War it dirty, dispairing, desperate, and destructive.

War is death.

Johnny Got His Gun is a book that shows another face of death. One that is mortally infinite. A death that you live, and can never escape.

It's a kind of death whe
Feb 15, 2016 Pink rated it liked it
Great novel, with a message I completely agree with. WAR IS BAD. It did get just a little tedious at times and I didn't think the flashbacks and digressions added anything. Otherwise it was all good. Apart from the war. War is bad.
Now that the war is through with me
I'm waking up, I cannot see
That there is not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please, God, wake me


Imprisoning me
All that I see
Absolute horror
I cannot live
I cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell

Has taken my sight
Taken my speech
Taken my hearing
Taken my arms
Taken my legs
Taken my soul
Left me with life in hell

The famous lyrics from Metallica's "One" from the perspective of Joe Bonham, wound
I saw the movie a few years back and I never really got over it. I have nothing to say about the book. Just read it, teach it, preach it, worship it, do something with it. It's one of those that should by no means be lost in oblivion. When there are no more people reading it, this world will be a really bad place. You don't believe me? Look around you...
7 stars.

This novel is horrific. Johnny gets his own pack of shells during the war, result being losing parts of his body, huh wait most parts of his body. He loses his arms, legs, blind, deaf and dumb and everything else ,..except his life. But he can think alright, which was more than enough, because he thought like this,

“did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of the millions who got killed did any one of them ever come back and say by god i'm glad i'm dead because death is al
Sep 16, 2014 James rated it it was amazing
I am profoundly grateful that my failure of imagination spared me from the full harrowing horror of this story, an act of merciful self protection. The main character wakes up in a hospital and begins to slowly understand the hideous nature of his wounds. utterly isolated he seeks to make sense of his life and undertake increasingly desperate measures to interact with his world. Starting this book I knew via a Metallica video (thank you MTV) that it was an anti war novel. What surprised me was t ...more
Candice Trebus
Feb 26, 2009 Candice Trebus rated it did not like it
I finished this book in December of '07, Johnny Got his Gun, and it made me want to shoot myself in the face.
It is written in second person limited, which is annoying enough if not for the added limitation of narrating through a character with no eyes, nose, ears, mouth or limbs. Written primarily in stream-of-consciousness, I simply wanted to cut my eyes out so that I could at least fall asleep on my 5-hour flight. Johnny was supposed to be an anti-war novel, receiving a mountain of praise for
Sep 18, 2016 Francesco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: preferiti
Il mio nome è mai più!

Superata l’iniziale perplessità generata dal disvelamento (graduale e, proprio per questo, più sconcertante) dell’immane sventura occorsa al protagonista, realizzata l’atrocità di una simile condizione e l’assurdità di un così cinico destino, si inizia a fraternizzare con l’io narrante/pensante, immedesimandosi con le sue sofferenze, con i suoi disagi, con la sua condizione angosciosa e straniante. Ciò grazie ad una narrazione cruda, efficace, esplicita che alterna descrizi
Oct 03, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: contemporary fiction fans
Recommended to Ed by: reader comment from my blog
Spoiler alert. Or so I've been told there's one.

This well-known anti-war novel came up as a reader comment on one of my Goodreads blog posts, and piqued my curiosity enough to check it out from our local public library. I knew the author Dalton Trumbo had been blacklisted in the 1950s for his alleged Communinist sympathies. He wrote Johnny Got His Gun (taken from a song lyric from the period) in 1939, and it nailed the National Book Award. Joe Bonham is a twenty-two-year old American doughboy r
Nov 20, 2008 C rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books, and it seems, a favorite of many other lovers of peace and justice, I have used this book since 2000 with my senior students to discuss war and our current state of affairs. This book opens up readers to many other types of discussions, however. The fact that we can loose our capacity to act in a flash; or, that we can write the way we think.
Dalton Trumbo was a writer who saw beyond his times and was able to write for future generations, much like Orwell. I feel an aff
Jun 03, 2016 Val rated it liked it
Shelves: byt-main, byt-ww1
A young soldier recovers consciousness in hospital and gradually realises the extent of his injuries. What follows is a stream-of-consciousness narrative as he looks back on his life before and his current state.
The novel is set around WWI, published during WWII and became a bestseller during the Vietnam War. It is regarded as an anti-war classic, giving a voice to ordinary soldiers. I am not sure why a horror fantasy based around a war should have as much impact as the many realist novels writt
Oct 04, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing
This is a re-read -- after a number of decades -- because I wanted to see how it stacked up, in the end, against Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way. Trumbo's novel had been the exemplar for all anti-war novels, in my mind, until I read Barry's work a few weeks ago and he redefined my perception of excellence in this genre.

Joe Bonham is what Willie Dunne might have become, it struck me, as I was re-reading Johnny if he had not succumbed fatally to that final shell impact. There's the same strong r
Patrizia O
Jun 04, 2016 Patrizia O rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: narrativa-usa, ww1
La prima guerra mondiale cominciò come una festa d'estate, tutta gonne al vento e spalline dorate. Milioni e milioni di persone sventolavano i fazzoletti dal marciapiede mentre le piumate altezze imperiali, le serenità, i feldmarescialli e altri idioti del genere sfilavano per le strade delle principali città d'Europa alla testa dei loro scintillanti battaglioni. (Dalton Trumbo, introduzione a E Johnny prese il fucile)

Joe Bonham, un ragazzo come tanti altri, parte per la guerra: lascia un lavo
Oct 02, 2015 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sad
I've never had a book give me a panic attack before, but this one.... This one is disturbingly thorough in its purpose. It made me feel claustrophobic, alone, and dark. It kept me awake at night.

This book is timeless. It doesn't matter what war, what era, or what the skewed justifications offered may be. The result is the same. The result is Joe.

Dalton Trumbo has a writing style akin to Kerouac. The stream of consciousness prose is perfect for the experiences taking place. It helps to create t
J.M. Hushour
Aug 12, 2016 J.M. Hushour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Supreme and top-tennish for at least the 20th century.
If you're like me, you came to this novel via the Metallica video "One" which had snippets of the outstanding film version. Then you realized it was a novel and you read it and it unconsciously informed your world-view. Then you reread it twenty-some years later and let it do it all over again (plus, it reminds you of when Metallica was worth listening to).
The novel is remarkable, told from the point-of-view of a WWI soldier hit by a shell wh
Tom Tabasco
Apr 05, 2015 Tom Tabasco rated it really liked it
A powerful and heart-felt anti-war novel written in 1939, full of idealism. If you've ever heard the story of the war veteran who finds himself in a hospital with no legs, no arms and no face, I bet you still remember it and you won't ever forget it.

I hate war even if I've never seen one with my eyes. But I'm not naive to the point of being categorically anti-war. That is a stance just as childish as being anti-teeth. "I don't want human beings to have teeth anymore!". Well, good luck with your
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Dalton Trumbo worked as a cub reporter for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, covering courts, the high school, the mortuary and civic organizations. He attended the University of Colorado for two years working as a reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera and contributing to the campus humor magazine, the yearbook and the campus newspaper. He got his start working for Vogue magazine. His first publi ...more
More about Dalton Trumbo...

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“did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of the millions who got killed did any one of them ever come back and say by god i'm glad i'm dead because death is always better than dishonor? did they say i'm glad i died to make the world safe for democracy? did they say i like death better than losing liberty? did any of them ever say it's good to think i got my guts blown out for the honor of my country? did any of them ever say look at me i'm dead but i died for decency and that's better than being alive? did any of them ever say here i am i've been rotting for two years in a foreign grave but it's wonderful to die for your native land? did any of them say hurray i died for womanhood and i'm happy see how i sing even though my mouth is choked with worms?” 67 likes
“Of course a lot of guys were ashamed. Somebody said let's go out and fight for liberty and so they went out and got killed without ever once thinking of liberty. And what kind of liberty were they fighting for anyway? How much liberty and whose kind of liberty? Were they fighting for the liberty of eating free ice cream cones all their lives or for the liberty of robbing anybody they pleased whenever they wanted to or what? You tell a man he can't rob and you take away some of his liberty. You've got to. What the hell does liberty mean anyhow? It's a word like house or table or any other word. Only it's a special kind of word. A guy says house and he can point to a house to prove it. But a guy says come on let's fight for liberty and he can't show you liberty. He can't prove the thing he's talking about so how in the hell can he be telling you to fight for it? No sir anybody who went out and got into the front line trenches to fight for liberty was a goddamn fool and the guy who got him there was a liar.” 66 likes
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