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Armageddon in Retrospect: And Other New and Unpublished Writings on War and Peace

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  11,447 ratings  ·  935 reviews
To be published on the first anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut's death, Armageddon in Retrospect is a collection of twelve new and unpublished writings on war and peace, imbued with Vonnegut's trademark rueful humor. ...more
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by G. P. Putnam's Sons (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Jason Koivu
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, non-fiction
War is a funny thing. That's what Vonnegut would have us believe. He is right. He also realizes that there is nothing funny about war. It's a conflicting juxtaposition and yet it is true.

Armageddon in Retrospect sat in the to-be-read pile for a good long while. I haven't read much Vonnegut since school, when probably about 9 out of 10 Vonnegut readers read his work, but I do enjoy reading him. Nonetheless, I dreaded this. The title alone told me it would be dreary and the title, for the most pa
...more
Tom Quinn
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was quietly moved by this collection, which I found to be very different from Vonnegut's better known works. For one thing, there's virtually no science fiction. For another, there's virtually no humor. Instead there are short stories in the vein of historical fiction, primarily focused on World War 2, each one crafted with care, each showing the folly of war. Each story is simple but potent. Since my own words seem too small to properly address the strength of Vonnegut's, I instead offer a pa ...more
TheBookWarren
4.75 Stars - There is a stillness to the way KV writes. A stillness that lingers, fades.. only to then return right when you least suspect it. It’s this stillness that grabs me most of all. The sheer versatility of it, when broken down, especially in a collection such as these, is quite staggering and can be razor sharp or feather soft, for it is a weapon the author uses with deft touch, but always fatal in its aim of reader seduction.

Not only is the aforementioned stillness used to perfection,
...more
Jim
There's a great introduction by Vonnegut's son & the book is read by Rip Torn, a favorite actor of mine.

It's pretty interesting. The point of 'Sirens', as put forth by David in #18, seems to have been echoed by Vonnegut's son in a completely unrelated chat between the two shortly before Kurt's death. It's worth reading, if only for the intro.

The first story was a speech he gave in 2007 & that seems to have set the tone. The stories so far are OK, but Vonnegut's Dresden horror stories made up mo
...more
cory
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: my kids
Quoting the author:

"And now please note that I have raised my right hand. And that means that I'm not kidding, that whatever I say next I believe to be true. So here it goes: The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime wasn't our contribution to the defeat of the Nazis, in which I played such a large part, or Ronald Reagan's overthrow of Godless Communism, in Russia at least.

The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime is how African-American citizens hav
...more
Numidica
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is rare that a writer's style is as distinctive as KV's, and his earliest writings are as clearly his as any of the best bits of his most famous works. In one part, he recounts his war experiences in a letter to his parents after being freed from a POW camp, describing his many warm and familiar encounters with the grim reaper. In each paragraph, he tells a tale and says that this or that person died, or, in the case of Dresden, many thousands died, "but not me". The catch phrase is reminisce ...more
John
Oct 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Vonnegut’s harrowing essay on the Dresden bombing, “Wailing Shall Be in All Streets,” is the highlight and centerpiece of this collection, and one of the best works of anti-war art I’ve read—something like the literary equivalent of Francisco Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’ series. This previously unpublished work is undated, but has the immediacy and urgency of an open wound. Dresden was the last major German city to escape bombing because there was nothing combative about it; it was a city of hospit ...more
shakespeareandspice
Never trust my rating on a Vonnegut. I love this man.
Kara Babcock
Sep 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
After two somewhat disappointing books, I finally picked up a book I’ve had since at least my birthday. My experience with Kurt Vonnegut remains slimmer than I’d like, with most of it locked away in adolescent memories now slipping beyond the horizon of my mind. So it feels a little odd to be reading Armageddon in Retrospect, theoretically his last work (unless his estate publishes more unpublished tidbits), already. But I did, and I don’t regret it. Clap me in irons if you must!

I’m at a loss fo
...more
Steven Burt
May 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has read Slaughterhouse Five
I finished "Armageddon in Retrospect" a few weeks ago. It was really good. I often wonder about works published posthumously, particularly when the works had been kicking around for a while before the author died.

Did the author want them to be published? Is there a reason they weren't published while they were alive?

I graduated from Law School just over one year ago, and it seems that in every different area of law there is a seminal case, the first that you read for the first day of class beca
...more
Jonathan
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Harley King, Vonnegut fans
I love this book because it offers so much - it's a buffet of essays, artistic sketches and short stories by a writer who managed to stay relevant and fresh into his late 80's. Some may be skeptical of the quality of work because the book was collected and published posthumously, but there's no need to fear that this is just another paycheck for the publisher. Most of the contents stand up with the rest of Vonnegut's work, which is to say, he paints pictures here with words of a humorous, horrib ...more
Corey Pung
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Somehow, over the years, people have started using the phrase “bleeding-heart liberal” as if it were a bad thing. In Armageddon in Retrospect, a posthumous collection of essays and stories, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. comes off as a bleeding-heart liberal in the best sense of the term.

There’s a distinction to be made between the bleeding-heart liberal and the hardline leftist. Both are useful and valuable in their own way. For an example of the more hardened individual, let’s look to my idol Christopher H
...more
Jorge Rosas
It took me a while to finish this book, at a point I even abandoned it, as a collection of tales is hard to evaluate what’s coming next, the first half was slow and a little bit boring but the second half improved lot, with the last shot story been the one that gives the book its title. Most of them are about the absurdity of war and how horrible and pointless it is, although recognizing that some dictators really deserve to be taken down. Some others are satirical, and deal with the losing side ...more
MJ Nicholls
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine collection of posthumous writings, themed around Kurt's wartime experiences in Dresden. There are some truly essential stories here, among them 'Just You & Me, Sammy' and the wonderfully crafty 'The Commandant's Desk.' ...more
reem
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amusing collection of essays on war and peace by the ever intelligent ever witty Vonnegut. I liked them well enough to give the entire book 3 stars but did I think it was his best work? Probably not. I never usually give him a lot of stars because his writing always seems lacking to me despite his unabashed brilliance. Though there's something curious about the way he tells a story that lures me back in, always, and I've yet to go a year without reading a Kurt Vonnegut book. ...more
Katie
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I remembered Vonnegut being funny and clever. I didn't remember his satires being so humanitarian and dare I say sweet? Very few other people show such clear vision of their societies' absurdities, and even fewer can use humor to make such vision bearable for so many readers. Perhaps it's because these stories draw from his wartime experiences, and who (now) could see the bombing of Dresden, for example, as anything but ludicrous?

This book starts with the last speech he'd written; if nothing el
...more
Bess Kurzeja
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love Vonnegut’s included illustrations. Bought this book used at a dilapidated antique store in a small kayaking town in Colorado. Folded into the pages I found the following items:
-1 partially finished Flat Stanley (only pants)
- US Airways ticket from Philadelphia to Denver
- 3 sudoku squares, with answers taped to back
- bookmark from Tattered Cover Book Store
- pink post it reading “TOM. Book for you. Also please pick up mail Sat. Thank you”
Mina
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was my introduction to Vonnegut. I think I fell in love with his writing.
Paul moved to LibraryThing
He's a writer who combines writing beautifully with actually having something to say. This is a great farewell. ...more
Grace
Dec 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
it’s a no from me dog.
Stephie Williams
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a small book. It is a collection of short pieces by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. on war. They range from nonfiction (letters and addresses) to fiction (inventive and non-inventive). His son has written an introduction to these previously unpublished works.

My favorite was of three prisoners of war cleaning up Dresden’s streets after its fire bombing. What made it the best was that the prisoners under the lose supervision of their guard kept diaries of food recipes and what they would eat first when
...more
Kristen
This collection of short stories on the topic of war was written throughout his career and released after his death. The stories vary widely in quality from absolutely hilarious, heartbreakingly sad, to rather mediocre (the majority of them.) Although the short stories are the bulk of the book but what makes this a must have for any Vonnegut fan is his nonfiction account of the bombing of Dresden, addressed in far more detail than any of his writings in the past (many of the short stories are al ...more
Simon
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Armageddon In Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut
I read this in about 48 hours in Prague and was
perfect to be read whilst sitting on our window
ledge overlooking the Old Town Square and
opposite the Astronomical Clock.
This is the Second Book Kurt has put out since
he died, why let death get in the way of a good
career.
It was also the second book of our trip to be
set at least in part in Czechoslovakia as it is
one of the places Kurt writes about in this
collection of unpublished short stories on the
t
...more
Noa
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Overall review: This book has restored my faith in Kurt Vonnegut. After reading Slaughterhouse Five and not loving it as much as I had hoped, I thought his work was just not for me. However, this collection of short stories truly showed off his talent in sardonic humor and his ability to tell poignant and insightful war stories. The artfully written stories were thoughtful, absurd, heartbreaking, entertaining, and devastating - all while giving a unique view into the experience of soldiers. I hi ...more
Gerry
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
This collection of unpublished Vonnegut short stories demonstrates why they were never published when he was alive: they aren't very good. The only interesting item in Armageddon in Retrospect is a reproduction of the letter he wrote to his family after being freed as a POW in WWII, where he was forced carry the dead to bonfires following the bombing of Dresden. The letter hints at the writer he'd become: a dry humorist with a seemingly unpolished style who tackled great moral questions.

The onl
...more
Andy
May 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
This was kind of disappointing. The stories were generally good, though a lot of them were kind of same-y, about his time in the army, in a wrapper of fiction. But the book kicks off with a commencement speech he was to deliver, but died before he did. It was just depressing. He was angry, disheveled, and not funny. He was just angry, without seeing any way things could be better.

I don't know if the stories were old, and just unpublished, or written somewhat recently, but I was also disappointed
...more
Eric
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Short story fans, KV fans
About halfway through this short collection, I was fairly unimpressed. Not that it was bad, unpublishable tripe that made it only because of Vonnegut's name, but because it just seemed unnecessary, and I felt it had all been said by him already. But I kept reading and am glad I did, because the second half of the book is much stronger. My favorites were 'The Unicorn Trap', 'Just You and Me, Sammy' and the title story, 'Armaggedon in Retrospect.' I also found 'Brighten Up' to be well written, but ...more
Jimmy
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthology-author
Rip Torn was the reader in this audiotape. I thought he was great in the movie Cross Creek, but here he was just plain reading weird. And not a funny weird, more of an insulting one.

I thought the fiction pieces were unpublished for a reason.

The nonfiction was excellent.

Vonnegut tries too hard to be Mark Twain. Maybe he should just come out and shout, "Hey, Everybody, look I'm just like Mark Twain!"
...more
Chester Hart
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There were some stories I enjoyed more than others in this collection but all have that effortless and light feel to them while also dealing with deep and dark topics. The deeper themes are definitely not thrust at you.

Peter Amos
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love anthologies. There’s a certain economy to the idea. I get many stories for the price of a few. I pay only for one cover, one pass through the conveyor belt, one trip on a flatbed truck. I started buying anthologies years ago, but I’ve recently gained a deeper appreciation for anthologies of shorter work – essays, criticism, short stories.

Collected short stories are cool. Collected essays, as well. But they’re snapshots in time. Margaret Atwood’s Stone Mattress is lovely, but the stories w
...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

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