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Slaughterhouse-Five

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  708,697 ratings  ·  14,447 reviews
Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, an ill-trained American soldier and his experience in World War II

War is inevitable, and it is absurd. The main theme of the book focuses on this. Billy Pilgrim is a prisoner-of-war at the hands of the Germans. He is captured and put in a disused slaughterhouse, which eventually proves to be a safe ‘shelter’ when his life
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Mass Market Paperback, Alternate Cover Edition for ISBN: 0-440-18029-5, 224 pages
Published December 1991 by Dell / Laurel (first published 1969)
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Mac I've thought a lot about this and I even have the phrase tattooed on my arm so my opinion doesn't matter any more than anyone else's I guess.

To me,…more
I've thought a lot about this and I even have the phrase tattooed on my arm so my opinion doesn't matter any more than anyone else's I guess.

To me, in a nutshell, it means the inexorable universe doesn't care one whit about our lives and it's up to us to make of them what we will. Sometimes that is a pretty poor showing and sometimes it's fantastic, so it goes. Sometimes awful things happen to innocent people, so it goes. Sometimes the most beautiful things happen to awful people, so it goes. Sometimes everything works out just the way we want it to, so it goes.

I really don't know, it's just me and my mind making things up. So it goes.(less)
Daniel So it goes. Life.

True - I have no idea what he meant, but that is what I construed.…more
So it goes. Life.

True - I have no idea what he meant, but that is what I construed.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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."
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
Dan Schwent
Billy Pilgrim becomes unstuck in time and experiences the events of his life out of chronological order. War and absurdity ensue.

I've never read Kurt Vonnegut up until now and when Slaughterhouse-Five showed up in my cheapo ebook email a few days ago, I decided it was time. Get it?

Slaughterhouse-Five is often classified as science fiction but it reads more like Kurt Vonnegut trying to make sense of his World War II experiences through a humorous (at times) science fiction story. It also seems to
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Bookworm Sean
Every so often you read a book, a book that takes everything you thought created an excellent novel and tears it to pieces; it then sets it on fire and throws it out the window in a display of pure individual brilliance. That is how I felt when I read this jumbled and absurd, yet fantastic, novel.

The book has no structure or at the very least a perceivable one: it’s all over the place. But, it works so well. It cements the book’s message and purpose underlining its meaning. Indeed, this book is
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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
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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
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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
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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
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
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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
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Glenn Sumi
This was my first Vonnegut book, but it won’t be my last.

Back in high school, a friend gave me a paperback copy of Breakfast Of Champions, and I leafed through it, amused at the drawings, but didn’t read it. (I think I was going through my Salinger stage… or perhaps it was my Dickens stage.) Now I want to find it in my boxes of old things. I want to read more from this strange, misanthropic (?), genre-busting, inventive and oddly soulful and philosophical author.

Slaughterhouse-Five has expanded
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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
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
Ian Klappenskoff
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
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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
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
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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 a
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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
[Name Redacted]
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
Trevor
I've only just finished this, literally minutes ago - look I had no idea this was going to be nearly so good. When he died last year I read some of his short stories, which were okay, but nothing to write home about. This was something else.

A friend of mine I don't talk to any more by a strange form of mutual agreement / obligation (though, now I’ve worked out how this all works, perhaps we’ve found an alternative means of one way communication?) – was thinking of starting up a science fiction
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Lyn
A fun visit with cantankerous old Uncle Kurt.

Vonnegut is on a short list of my favorite authors and this is perhaps his most famous work. Not his best, but most recognizable. Billy Pilgrim is also one of his best characters. (Kilgore Trout is his best).

I liked it as I like everything I have read of him. The recurring themes and characters, use of repetition for emphasis and comic relief, his irreverence and postmodern lack of sensitivity shine bright as ever here.

Vonnegut can be funny and grim
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David Sarkies
May 28, 2015 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody who loves the absurd
Recommended to David by: A friend at highschool
Shelves: sci-fi
A Tale Unstuck in Time
26 May 2015

The thing that really captivates me about Vonnegut's writing is its the simplicity. In fact it is almost as if he is writing a book aimed at a much younger audience (sort of the age where they don't need pictures but still require simple sentences and a limited vocabulary), that is until he starts talking about men filling women with sperm and other concepts that some parents (such a mine) probably wouldn't want their eight or nine year old reading. I guess that
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

4.5 Stars

You want a REAL review about Slaughterhouse-Five? Then I recommend reading what Richard or Dan had to say. I have owned this book for years and finally read it months ago - because Richard cyber-bullied me into it ; ) - but have been at a loss of how to express my thoughts. After reading Dan’s review I dug up the notes I had made to myself, and this is what I found:

“I'm glad I didn't read this back in high school when it was a
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Vipassana
The human brain is shrinking[1]. It has been posited that this is happening because large brains are energy expensive and cause humans to process information slowly. However, until about 20,000 years ago the human brain was growing. This brain growth was selection against aggression. Our ancestors were an allegedly pugnacious lot, quick to react violently, often leading to their destruction. The claim is that we no longer need to to think slowly in order to survive, and hence the faster shrinkin ...more
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Stairway to Fandoms: Slaughterhouse-Five (Spoilers) 3 4 Jul 29, 2015 04:42PM  
Reading List Comp...: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (Starts June 15th, 2015) 10 18 Jul 02, 2015 08:26AM  
How bad is it 49 208 Jul 02, 2015 01:09AM  
So it goes. 6 86 Jun 03, 2015 08:50PM  
Time Travel: Slaughterhouse Five offerred 1 14 May 28, 2015 02:51PM  
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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...
Cat's Cradle Breakfast of Champions The Sirens of Titan Mother Night Galápagos

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“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” 4010 likes
“And so it goes...” 2954 likes
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