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Slaughterhouse-Five

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,007,332 ratings  ·  23,410 reviews
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world's great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.
Paperback, 275 pages
Published January 12th 1999 by Dial Press (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)
Felicity Graham The whole point is the effect the event (Dresden) had on Billy - the question of whether he's imagining things, whether he's trying to escape, whether…moreThe whole point is the effect the event (Dresden) had on Billy - the question of whether he's imagining things, whether he's trying to escape, whether he thinks it's really real...it's about the personal toll of having that kind of memory seared into your being for the rest of your life.

No, it is not overrated.(less)

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4.07  · 
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 ·  1,007,332 ratings  ·  23,410 reviews


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Simeon
Aug 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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."
"
...more
Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
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
...more
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
Kirstie
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
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
...more
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
...more
Lyn
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Matthias
Listen:

This reviewer is stuck in time. He is unable to escape the narrow confines of the invisible, intangible machinery mercilessly directing his life from a beginning towards an end. The walls surrounding him are dotted with windows looking out on darkened memories and foggy expectations, easing the sense of claustrophobia but offering no way out. The ceiling is crushing down on this man while he paces frantically through other people's lives and memories in hopes of shaping his own and forget
...more
Anne
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an absolute masterpiece and it makes it clear in every single sentence. I think it is best to go into it without knowing too much about the plot. You just got to take it as it comes, so to say.

Before reading, I was worried that I might have trouble with the writing style. English isn't my first language and the older a book is, the more trouble I seem to have with the writing (because of obsolete words, unusual sentence structures, ect.). However, my worry was totally for nothing in
...more
TK421
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
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
...more
Fabian
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Liana- its not ALL testosterone!
No one really introduced me to this work, despite its resonant presence in the literary canon.

I adore books that reek of marvelous postmodern perfume. This is one original, enthralling, always-relevant novel. Vonnegut is brave & cowardly because he makes the material his own, yet he is but scenery... his main character is an Everyman who is sooo affected by the Dresden bombings that he "becomes unglued from time." Yes: war is complete, utter chaos... it becomes something more powerful than
...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
...more
jessica
here it is. yet another book that i didnt read in school but decided to pick up later in life. and i think this is one of the rare instances where i think i would have benefited from some educational instruction to supplement my reading, because i did not seem to get this on my own.

i mean, on a surface level, i understood the anti-war tones and commentary on society in general, but anything deeper than that eluded me. so taking this at face value, i think its safe to say this is a really weird b
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
375. Slaughterhouse-Five = The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a science fiction-infused anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut about the World War II experiences and journeys through time of Billy Pilgrim, from his time as an American soldier and chaplain's assistant, to postwar and early years. It is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work. A central event is Pilgri
...more
Henry Avila
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now for something completely different , stating it mildly ...Billy Pilgrim is not just another time travelling man, kidnapped by aliens from the unknown planet Tralfamadore and put in their zoo, he's an eyewitness to the destruction of Dresden, during World War Two. Our Billy an optometrist, (eye doctor) marries the boss's slightly overweight daughter Valencia (who no one else wanted, people are so unkind) . The couple have two disrespectful children, Barbara and Robert, the truth that he becom ...more
Darwin8u
“Everything is nothing, with a twist.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

description

I've read Slaughterhouse-Five several times and I'm still not sure I know exactly how Vonnegut pulls it off. It is primarily a postmodern, anti-war novel. It is an absurd look at war, memory, time, and humanity, but it is also gentle. Its prose emotionally feels (go ahead, pet the emotion) like the tug of the tides, the heaviness of sleep, the seduction of alcohol, the dizziness of love. His prose is simple, but beautiful
...more
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
...more
Dan Schwent
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
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
...more
Natalia Yaneva
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bulgarian review below/Ревюто на български е по-долу
‘The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.’
I heard this expression for the first time from a high school history teacher. We called him the Thug because he looked like a thug. I thought he had made the aforementioned conclusion himself as a historian and I was impressed. Years later I found out I had been very much confused and those were Stalin’s words, for he was more familiar with that kind of stuff… I’m temp
...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
...more
Dave Russell
Mar 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
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
Foad


کتاب بی نظیر بود. لحن طنز برای توصیف کشتارهای وحشتناک، ترکیب داستان جنگ با داستان علمی تخیلی و فانتزی، و وقایع و شخصیت های زیاد. همه و همه کتاب رو تبدیل به یه اثر لذت بخش کرده بودن.
BlackOxford
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
The God of Accidents

Only God knows all of time as if it were the same instant; only God can annihilate the Universe; only God knows our innermost thoughts: so contends Judaic, Christian, and Muslim theology. For God, therefore, there is no cause and effect; everything just is. And because there is no cause and effect, there is no issue of free will. Free will is an idea created by human beings who can't imagine any other way to escape the mechanical inevitability of causality.

In Slaughterhouse
...more
William2
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20-ce, fiction, us
The novel is a fabulist take on the destruction of Dresden—the Florence of the Elbe, the Jewel Box—by Allied Bombing at the end of World War II. Author Vonnegut witnessed the mayhem as a 23-year old American POW. There are no characters here, really. Billy Pilgrim and the others are flat flat flat. Vonnegut's point being that the suffering brought on by the war dehumanized and diminished everyone to one-dimensionality.

It's an interesting idea and a perfect match for his spare style. I remember
...more
Seemita
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kurt Vonnegut. Four syllables, once pronounced, suspends in the air like a rock star swishing his name into the air for chanters to latch on and treble the echo. Slaughter-House Five, god knows how many syllables (depending on stress-points of your tongue), once sprinkled from the nozzle of mouth, hangs again in the air like a vagabond wrapper not finding a parapet to land. Perhaps both could have gone their way and not bothered to float into my fairly tranquil world. But they chose to break the ...more
Bram
Jan 26, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
Richard Derus
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jason
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Raeleen Lemay
Sep 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
WHAT A STRANGE BOOK.

I definitely didn't love it, but there were certain parts that I adored. The Tralfamadorians have a really interesting view of life and Earth (the 4th dimension, bro... WHOA) and I really liked the parts that involved them.
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
...more
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24,084 followers
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
“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” 5254 likes
“And so it goes...” 3983 likes
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