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God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
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God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  32,499 ratings  ·  974 reviews
"God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" is a comic masterpiece. Eliot Rosewater, drunk, volunteer fireman, and President of the fabulously rich Rosewater Foundation, is about to attempt a noble experiment with human nature...with a little help from writer Kilgore Trout. The result is Vonnegut's funniest satire, an etched-in-acid portrayal of the greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published September 8th 1998 by Dial Press (first published 1965)
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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutCat's Cradle by Kurt VonnegutBreakfast of Champions by Kurt VonnegutThe Sirens of Titan by Kurt VonnegutMother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut's Best
7th out of 35 books — 454 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
100 Best American Authors
80th out of 524 books — 382 voters

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Community Reviews

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If you belong to the one-percent economic bracket, prepare to be mocked by Kurt Vonnegut. If you are a 99-percenter, prepare to realize that the joke’s still on you.

"A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees" The Rosewater family, having accumulated a fortune from war profiteering and from selling diluted stock, placed $87 million dollars in a “charitable” foundation, the purpose of which wa...more
Ian Paganus de Fish
Rude, but Not Construed

A satire on American society, capitalism, and religious and sexual hypocrisy, Vonnegut’s ensemble includes Eliot Rosewater (a less unfortunate Jay Gatsby/F. Scott Fitzgerald who lives long enough to be charitable with his family’s trust funds), his father Senator Lister Rosewater (a male incarnation of Ayn Rand, whose "Atlas Shrugged" was published eight years before and "The Virtue of Selfishness" the year before this novel) and science fiction novelist Kilgore Trout (...more
"Corporations are people, my friend."
Mitt Romney, former Presidential hopeful and owner of a car elevator

The Rosewater Corporation was dedicated to prudence and profit, to balance sheets. Their main enterprise was the churning of stocks and bonds of other corporations. Their secret motto? Grab too much, or you'll get nothing at all.

They are also in charge of the capital of the charitable and cultural Rosewater Foundation.

Norman Mushari, a recent hire at a DC law firm (He had an enormous ass whic...more
Once I realized and accepted the fact that I will never completely understand what Kurt Vonnegut writes, it became a lot easier for me to read his books. My first attempt at reading his work - Cat's Cradle resulted in me staring at the page, mentally shouting at Kurt Vonnegut, "What are you even TALKING about?" Reading Slaughter-House Five went slightly better, and by the time I read Mr. Rosewater, I was completely at peace with Vonnegut's "maybe this all has deep meaning and maybe I'm just pull...more
My favorite bits are the two pornographic novels-within-the-novel, Garvey Ulm's Get With Child a Mandrake Root and Kilgore Trout's Venus on the Half-Shell, both marvelously suggested by illustrative paragraphs. Philip José Farmer was tasteless enough actually to write the second book. I suppose we can at least be glad that he didn't get around to writing the first one as well.
Robert Farwell
"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth.
It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
It's round and wet and crowded.
At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here.
There's only one rule that I know of, babies—
God damn it, you've got to be kind."

I've only got two big rules with my two babies. # 1 be happy, # 2 be kind. Everything else is negotable. It appears that Kurt Vonnegut independently arrived at the same conclusion. 'God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater' happens to be a fairly straigh...more
The sentiments behind this book are pretty clear. It's hard to believe this is nearly half a century old, because it still feels stingingly relevant in a world of austerity, Tea Party Republicanism and millionaire presidential candidates.

The plot (such as it is) flops around sloppily, but that's Vonnegut for you.

There's more to Eliot Rosewater here than the character as presented in Slaughterhouse Five. In that other book, Rosewater comes across as a cynic, supplying meaningless platitudes. In t...more
Feb 06, 2008 Carrie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cynical idealists
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Robinson
While most critics would probably say Slaughterhouse Five is his finest work, due to its compassionate plea for humanity (tinged of course with bleak determinism), it is God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater that is arguably Vonnegut’s most artistic novel.

The plot isn’t driven by narrative gimmicks in chronology, or philosophical aliens appearing deus ex machina, or accidents of history, but rather (largely) internally by what is his most cognitively and morally conflicted (but not totally amoral like Fe...more
Dusty Myers
I had a friend back in Pittsburgh who was incredibly smart and very kind and funny, but had a tendency toward literary snobbishness. (I know: can you imagine such a person?) Once he had something disparaging to say about Kurt Vonnegut, I can't remember exactly what. Some well timed comment that pretty much wrote him off as a hack, and I recall being almost hurt by it, seeing as how Vonnegut wrote so much stuff I loved as a teen.

And I guess that's maybe the rub. I loved Vonnegut as a teen. Sure I...more
Hilarious. Bonus: one can read it and laugh without the horrified guilt that hangs over the reading of Mother Night because it is only about the bad stuff we do to poor people and basically nice white people are all in agreement that it's okay to live better at the expense of poor people.

I would love to pull bits of this out to show you how funny it is. The scene where Eliot gives money to the poet so that the poet can tell the truth and the poet discovers he has no truth to tell. He only though...more
Having recently finished Vonnegut's Letters, I've been revisiting some of his novels I read long, long ago. At this point in my life, Rosewater wouldn't receive a five-star rating. I'll leave it up there because that's how I remember it from the first time I read it, but right now I'd say Jailbird is the better book, although as a lad I didn't think as highly of it.

Be that as it may, here's a book for Mitt Romney to put on his "to read" list. He's got the time these days, and he might learn a th...more
I began this book with uncertainty. I couldn't decided whether I liked Vonnegut's style or whether I hated its dry humor. I apporached the plot with morbid curiosity. The protagonist is a trainwreck, and I couldn't tear myself away from the book. it seems that this is the authors intention. I was uncomfortable watching Mr. Rosewater's life fall apart, until I realized that Rosewater enjoyed it. He is a an insane philanthropist, iresponsible with his money. But by the end of the book their is so...more
Eunji Kim
May 07, 2007 Eunji Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: youth with the pretensions of liberal politics--wealthy youth
i learned that kurt vonnegut wrote a play called happy birthday wanda june.
this book is, i think, the culimination of certain ever present themes that exist in vonnegut's work. and thus, the best impression of vonnegut that vonnegut would ever do:
fuzzy morality that is really quite clear.
sadness wrapped in a humor so dry that it's almost not palatable, but somehow, so genuine...oh i dunno--
i just really like this one. who knows? maybe because the women are so haunted and distant. maybe because h...more
I just finished all of the first six Vonnegut novels (except for the early Player Piano). It has been quite an experience over three weeks.

In God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Vonnegut clearly and relentlessly makes his case for Humanism. As a cry for all of us to love one another without reservations, and without expectation of material rewards for such love, the book is effective. However, as a work of engaging literature it falls short. I tired of the many pages of the Rosewater family history....more
3.5 bumped down to 3

I loved the social commentary in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and, similar to my experience with Cat's Cradle, found it to be a provocative read. Still, other than agreeing with a number of Vonnegut's insights and enjoying his humor, I didn't find myself the least bit invested in the characters.

Perhaps this is because Vonnegut's writing style is less exemplary story telling and more witty satire that reads like a cautionary tale/parable. So while his thoughts and ideas are w...more
As a reader of historical fiction, I hadn’t read any Vonnegut. Upon his death, I vowed to read him. Finally five years later, I finally tried this one, primarily because it was the one at hand.

As to its being almost 50 years old, it holds up well. One reason is that there are no direct references to the Vietnam War or the Civil Rights movement to date it. There is an openly gay character who is naturally woven into the story, which is unusual for the time. The theme is even more relevant now tha...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The strength of this book is in its social commentary about the very rich rather than the story itself. The writing is good, and at times scathingly funny. The story is somewhat disjointed and not all that satisfying overall, but worth the read for the humor and style. Eliot Rosewater was born into a filthy rich family, and as an adult administers the Rosewater Foundation. He renounces his family's ways, lives like a pauper, and tries to give away as much of the foundation's money as he can. His...more
Like most of Vonnegut, this was a pretty quick read for me. I tend to lean towards his spacier works (like everyone else, I read Slaughterhouse Five first because it's so famous) and this one relegates that sort of stuff to mentions of Kilgore Trout novels.
Instead of speculations of Earth's hopeless future, Vonnegut sticks to questions of what we qualify as insanity in this one, a question which makes it worth reading if you've got some time, but otherwise I would recommend other Vonnegut novels...more
James Steele
The current head of the Rosewater Foundation, Eliot Rosewater, is a very peculiar man. He was born to a rich family, has more money than he could ever spend on his own, and yet all he wants to do is help the poor. There are people conspiring to declare him insane so they can install a new head of the Foundation. Someone they can manipulate into diverting some of that money into their undeserving hands.

The narrative is so disjointed, never finding a focus. It wanders back and forth from past to p...more
It's no secret that Vonnegut was a brilliant and insightful satirist. This book is one of his best and gets right to the heart of human nature and the love of money. However, for me this book was a bit too bitter and a little too sad. Of course, that was probably the point.

Vonnegut sets out the fact that "a sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people" on page one. The book showcases the influence money has in America and the fact that it generally brings about the ruin of peopl...more
Mr. Rosewater is a fictional character that the world needs desperately. He doesn't see the point of having too much money and is so devastated by the world he sees around him that he becomes an alcoholic and travels the country visiting smalls towns, trying a very novel idea for the rich: helping people. He is the heir to the Rosewater Foundation, which is worth millions. What do you do with a millionaire who tries to selflessly help people? You try and get them committed, of course! Though he...more
Carol Storm
Out of all Vonnegut's novels, this is by far the best. One reason is that there are no sci-fi trappings, no silliness about time travel or aliens, nothing but a real study of American history and the impact of wealth and greed on the ideal of democracy. While short and exceedingly easy to read, the book feels like an epic narrative, since it sweeps from the very rich to the very poor, from the battlefields of the Civil War to the modern sailing playgrounds of the very rich. It feels much longer...more
"One of his favorite Kilgore Trout books dealt with ingratitude and nothing else. It was called The First District Court of Thankyou which was a court you could take people to, if you felt they hadn’t been properly grateful for something you had done.

If the defendant lost his case, the court gave him a choice between thanking the plaintiff in public, or going into solitary confinement on bread and water for a month.

According to Trout, 80% of those convicted chose the black hole."

I loved this K...more
Bonnie Walton
It seems like loads of people think this book is pro-socialism, but it seems to me like more of a hopeless rant against society with no attempt at positive suggestions. Don't get me wrong--his style is entertaining: sincere but at times surprisingly blunt and humorous.

However, the content falls short for me, and Vonnegut comes across as one of those people who are always whining about what he/she dislikes about society and then never does anything to fix it. I'm an amateur though, so what do I...more
the director of our student television station gave this to me when i worked for him around christmas my freshman year of high school. i didn't read it until i was a senior in college but if ever there was a book to read and say, that's so nicole. there's no robots or music, but there is a guy whose generous heart makes him a little looney in the eyes of everyone else. and he's an volunteer fire fighter, which is two sidesteps from floor fire warden in my book.
My favorite Vonnegut novel.

"The Second World War was over - and there I was at high noon, crossing Times Square with a Purple Heart on."

-- Eliot Rosewater, President,
The Rosewater Foundation

Moira Russell
One of his best -- criminally underrated.
Reading other reviews of this book I see a lot of talk both positive and negative about Vonnegut's intentions. Is the purpose anti-capitalist, does the moral triumph socialism with a punchline, is Vonnegut as ambitious in scope and style as preceding works?

I don't care. This isn't Slaughter House Five so why should I compare it? What I want to know is can it stand on its own, are the characters honest, will it make me feel something (anything)?


I don't care about Eliot Rosewater's political...more
okay, so this being my third kurt vonnegut book in a read in two weeks, it's amazing that i'm not exhausted of his writing style! this is the funniest of all the books i've read thus far, wackiest, zaniest, kurt vonnegut the comedian at his finest. i love how the reader is introduced to new characters constantly, even 10 pages from the end of the book - splendid!

mr. rosewater is an insane billionaire, distributing his wealth in ways the reader can only imagine. a grant to a whino, to a depresse...more
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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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“Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.” 105 likes
“There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.” 57 likes
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