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Johnny Got His Gun

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  21,463 ratings  ·  1,413 reviews
The Searing Portrayal Of War That Has Stunned And Galvanized Generations Of Readers

An immediate bestseller upon its original publication in 1939, Dalton Trumbo’s stark, profoundly troubling masterpiece about the horrors of World War I brilliantly crystallized the uncompromising brutality of war and became the most influential protest novel of the Vietnam era. With a compel
Paperback, 254 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Citadel (first published 1939)
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Stansherman No comparison...Johnny Got His Gun is the Bible of anti-war literature.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Bill  Kerwin

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.
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
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!
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

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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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?” 56 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.” 51 likes
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