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Johnny Got His Gun

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  20,418 ratings  ·  1,349 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, 251 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Penguin Books (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 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Esteban del Mal
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Mar 30, 2013 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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, but you can't escape.

A kind of death where you
Nandakishore Varma
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!
Oct 03, 2012 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Candice Trebus
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
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
Patrizia O
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
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
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
Fantastic terrible story, but how to write a comment? Johnny got his gun, a novel set in time of the "war to end all wars", world war one, was published in 1939, 1959 & 1991.
"A terrifying book of an extraordinary emotional intensity" -the Washington Post. An immediate bestseller upon its original publication Dalton Trumbo's profoundly troubling masterpiece about the horrors of world war 1 brilliantly crystallized the uncompromising brutality of war and became the most influential protest nov
Tempo de Ler
"He was the nearest thing to a dead man on earth." - p. 117

O poder de um livro propaga-se de acordo com o nível em que nos deixamos envolver por ele. Eu dissolvo-me completamente e isso permite-me passar óptimos momentos mas também me tem oferecido alguns bem medonhos.

Assim, tenho vivido estes recentes dias na companhia de um homem sem pernas, sem braços, cego, surdo e mudo…e muito bem consciente de tudo isso. Não preciso, com certeza, acrescentar que foram dias pavorosos.

A Primeira Guerra Mun
Jennifer (aka EM)
Infinite Jest has beaten me, again.

Instead, I picked this up. The new edition I got has a new Foreword by a woman named CarolCindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey in Iraq in 2004. This is on top of the old new Foreword by Ron Kovic -- does that name ring a bell? It should, if you are a reader of war or anti-war novels. He is the writer of the book, and the individual on whom the lead character was based, of Born On The 4th Of July, which was of course about Vietnam. (And was the last and only d
Sarah Medina
As much as I appreciated style of this writing I must say one thing. This is a one-sided biased view on a war. This book talks about the horrors of war and the wrong reasons for fighting in a war. This was the case for Vietnam, Korea, and Europe. It doesn't talk about a good reason to fight a war. Like, I don't know, to stop a little thing called the Holocaust considering it was written during World War II. Its a powerful book and its a strong book despite the fact it has no commas. The book shi ...more
Ci ho pensato sopra parecchio. Sarà un limite mio, naturalmente, ma proprio non riesco a compartire tutte le magnificanti recensioni scritte a proposito di questo libro. Non l’ho trovato né onesto, né sincero, né sentito. Più prossimo alla propaganda politica che all’urgenza dello scrivere. Nonché del tutto superfluo, perché testimonianze vere, reali e ben più pregnanti di questa narrazione sono state scritte, oltre che sostenute da una rettitudine di pensiero e di comportamento che sono aldilà ...more
Johnny Got His Gun is ironically told through the eyes of a character name Joe. A victim of the Great War, Joe slowly comes into conscious reality of the grievous injuries he has suffered. Interspersed throughout his internal dialog are vignettes of his life before the war, the memories that now are the only thing to keep Joe company inside of the prison his sewn-together body has now become. Through these stories we share his journey into grim awakening and get to find out about the cost of war ...more
This was such a powerful book! I'm kind of at a loss for words, but I will try to focus. I had seen this book on several different TOP HORROR lists, which intrigued me. But what really got me wanting to read this book was my father, who fought in WWII, recommended this book to everyone. "You have to read it!" would be his line. Not "I loved this one," or "I think you'll enjoy this one," but "You have to read it!" He found it accurate and haunting and who better to know that than someone who expe ...more
God, this was such a tough read emotionally. Some of the passages in this book, like any good book, kicked my ass. I have been reading a lot of these type of books lately. I think I need to get out of this rabbit hole for a bit, because there is only so much I can endure in the name of ugly reality. With that said, this book has just helped me reinforce my stance on war. War is thousands of years of well documented ultra expensive stupidity. These governments and the media who tell us lies to ma ...more
Johnny prese il fucile e andò in guerra, quale poco importa, Johnny tornò dalla guerra, ma il suo corpo no.
Il romanzo è un lungo monologo diviso in due sezioni: i morti e i vivi. Durante il monologo si assiste all'acquisizione di consapevolezza dello stato da parte di Johnny che lentamente si rende conto di non avere più braccia e gambe e di aver perso tutti i sensi che lo collegano con l'esterno.
Nel corso del romanzo, passando dai morti ai vivi, Johnny riprende lentamente contatto con l'esterno
Matt Piechocinski
This is maybe the third greatest anti-war novel I've read ... which puts Trumbo's book in the middle of The Things They Carried (occupying the first position) and All Quiet on the Western Front (at number 3). I think it's a great book because it really makes you run the gamut of feelings ... the two of which I found myself feeling were anger, and cynicism. I found myself disagreeing with Trumbo in that I think some ideas are worth dying for. If people hadn't, then I think this world would be a w ...more
I finished this several days ago and I can't think of anything to say about it. I don't know what that says about me. Every feeling I had about this book contradicted itself. I hated it and I loved it. I wanted to cry and scream and I wanted to laugh. I wanted to hide in my blankets and then I wanted to take on the world, and then I wanted to hide back in bed again. The only thing I can definitively say is I personally think this is a book everyone should read. I think it's a very important book ...more
Lydia Lynes
LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK!! I don't think I can sum up my thoughts efficiently because I am so overwhelmed with the power that this book had on me. the harsh backdrop of war and the persistence of solitude that finds the main character is such a powerful universal concept that (although this book was written in the thirties) can be applied to any time period. A definite must read for anyone!!
Jonathan-David Jackson
This book starts slowly, but it really gets going. I put it down only briefly, to sleep, and finished it as soon as I woke up. It amazes me that war can still exist when ideas like those written in this book are freely available for anyone to think. War does exist, though, and I was further amazed when I read the author's introduction after the main story and read that even he, a man who was one of the Hollywood Ten and lived in exile in Mexico because of his blacklisting for his political views ...more
Lisa Vegan
May 13, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone at least 12-14 & up
Powerful novel. One of the best anti-war books out there in any genre. I read it in high school during the Vietnam War and found it extremely depressing, horrifying, and emotionally draining. And I highly recommend it anyway; it’s a must read book in my opinion. It’s stuck with me for years. I wish it was mandatory for all world leaders and those of military service age to read this one.
Rahul  Adusumilli
It is anti-war but more than that it is against conscription. When I heard it was a tough read, the names James Joyce, David Foster Wallace, Vladimir Nabokov came to mind. It isn't that kind of a tough read, it's a fairly simple read, a bit suffocating perhaps but how hard can a book written by a Hollywood screenwriter be? Let's get realistic.

It isn't fiction that you read everyday, it's a different level of fiction.

An excerpt:

“Life is awfully important so if you've given it away you'd ought t
Ismael Galvan
This must be the ultimate anti-war book ever written. It is brutal against war as war is brutal against people. The blood and guts are stomped out of the lie that spurs countless men and women into the abyss known as war.

Johnny Got His Gun is a story about a soldier who awakens in total darkness. His eyes are destroyed, his eardrums blown out, and his limbs amputated. Slowly he realizes he's a faceless torso kept alive by tubes. Nobody bothers to communicate with him. He is both a war hero and t
Edison Moy
I found this book after learning that Metallica's song "One" was based off this literary masterpiece. Now when I listen to "One", I am clearly reminded of the horrors of war through its simple, yet grabbing lyrics.

"Johnny Got His Gun" tells the story of a young WWI veteran who has been torn apart by a bomb while in battle. Joe Bonham, the main character, lost everything short of his ability to live and think; he lost both legs, both arms, nose, mouth, ears, eyes. With Joe, the reader experience
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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
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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?” 52 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.” 43 likes
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