Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this brilliant book rife with true gallows humor, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gra ...more
Howard W. Campbell Jr. was an American citizen who grew up in Germany and became a prominent Nazi thanks to his virulent anti-Semitic propaganda. However, Howard had actually been recruited before the war began to be an American spy who provided vital intelligence to the Allies via codes hidden i ...more
Probably Vonnegut will never be one of my favourite writers. However, I must say that "Mother Night" is a good novel. Howard W. Campbell Junior is an American playwright emigrated to Germany of the Third Reich, become the symbol as well as the radio personality of Nazi propaganda. Campbell Junior brings us his memories from an Israeli jail, waiting to be tried for crimes against humanity.The tragicomic story that comes out gives us totally grotesque characters, m...more
Vastly underrated piece of black comedy, about a World War 2 double agent whose cover is a Nazi propagandist in the style of Lord Haw-Haw. Vonnegut says in the preface that this is the only one of his books where he knows what the moral is. You are what you pretend to be, so be careful about who you pretend to be. For my money, Vonnegut's second best book, running Cat's Cradle very close.
It's not just me - the great Doris Lessing also wrote once that she couldn't quite understand why this book ...more
Mother Night is a novel by American author Kurt Vonnegut, first published in February 1962. The title of the book is taken from Goethe's Faust.
It is the fictional memoirs of Howard W. Campbell Jr., an American, who moved to Germany in 1923 at age 11, and later became a well-known playwright and Nazi propagandist. The action of the novel is narrated (through the use of metafiction) by Campbell himself.
The premise is that he is writing his memoirs while awaiting trial ...more
Fake news did not arise with Donald Trump’s tweets. Propagandists of the Left and the Right have used it since before there was a Left and Right. America has always had a fascist edge. 19th century Nativists, Know-Nothings, Klansmen, Red Shirts, White Leaguers, and Constitutional Unionists invented fake news long before the John Birch Society, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs or the alt-Right of Steve Bannon claimed that mass media routinely hide the truth about immigrants, Jews, and Blac ...more
Sitting in ...more
Cannot help but wonder if the writer for Full Metal Jacket had been thinking of Mother Night when he wrote that line. One of the darker novels in Vonnegut’s collection, but still with the humor and blithely irreverent tone that is his ...more
I liked the quote so well that I was somehow afraid that the novel would disappoint. From the outset I want to say Mother Night is fantastic! In Mother Night, it somehow seems like Howard W. Campbell Jr. is guilty of something, but what exactly? As an American working undercover as a propagandist for the Germans during WWII, ...more
Or is he?
As the account of Campbell’s life in Germany unfolds, much is revealed about his motives, the benign sequence of events leading t ...more
The book opens with our protagonist sitting in a jail cell in Israel, awaiting trial for his part in spreading Nazi propaganda during World War II.
We quickly learn that he was sending coded messages to the Allies on his radio program, and are now left questioning whether or not he is guilty of war crimes. Does his encouragement of hatr ...more
Before I started writing this review I quickly scanned other reviews of this book on Goodreads just to see if many of them start off with the above iconic quote. I did not find one so I went ahead with putting in the quote. Probably not that great an idea, that is why nobody want to do it! I ...more
The moral of the story: be careful of who you pretend to be, because you become what you pretend to be!
I recommend "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Mother Night" to anyone new to Kurt Vonnegut. " ...more
Before launching into the novel proper, Vonnegut introduces Mother Night as the only story of his with ...more
The characters, setting, plot, all of it comes together in a well-wrapped tale in which a man fights the truth of his own identity under the pressing weight of the author's imposed moral law that states you are what you pretend to be. In Mother Night, the story of an American spy working undercover within Germany duri ...more
Future civilizations - better civilizations than this one - are going to judge all men by the extent to which they've been artists. You and I, if some future archeologist finds our works miraculously preserved in some city dump, will be judged by the quality of our creations. Nothing else about us will matter.
Mother Night is one of the author's favorites, so according to the above quote extracted from the book, it is how he would want to be judged by posterity. I believe I read somewhere tha ...more
Poor Howard Campbell, Jr., an American living in Germany, is recruited to spew on air Nazi propaganda that is laced with coded information for the Allies.
"You'll be volunteering right at the start of the war to be a dead man. Even if you live t ...more
Waiting to be tried for war crimes, Howard Campbell writes his memoirs in a jail cell in Jerusalem. American-born, but raised in Germany, Campbell was once a successful playwright, married to a beautiful actress named Helga. He had no particular political leaning, but the Ministry of Propaganda thought he’d be the perfect mouthpiece to promote the regime’s ideology through radio broadcasts. In order to protect hims ...more
Mother Night is quite a different novel from what you'd expect with Vonnegut. There is no mind-bending science fiction or metafictional madness. Instead we have the story of Howard W. Campbell Jr., an American accused of being a Nazi due to his radio broadcasts from Germany during the war. He was actually a US counter-spy leaking Nazi secrets to the US but that little caveat is not well-know ...more
Mother Night is the best Kurt Vonnegut novel I’ve read (though ...more
Howard W. Campbell, Jr. is one of the most important propagandists of the Third Reich, and he is an American spy. While sending coded messages to the U.S. during WW II, he is also contributing to the German war machine. "Mother Night" is the memoir this fictional character writes in a Jerusalem prison, while awaiting trial for war crimes.
This is an equally dark and funny metafictional novel, full of clever ideas, puns, j ...more
From this day forward, consider me a fan.
It's strange, really, how some books fall into your life at exactly the right time. I don't know how it happens. If we somehow unconsciously know that this is the book we need and pick it up and let it take us places. Perhaps. All I know is this particular book came into my life at the most opportune moment. I say opportune, because I just recently acquired the skills to really understand this book, ...more
Guilt. Not the state of being physically guilty of committing a negative action, a "crime" if you prefer, but the feeling of guilt that festers in one's soul for a lifetime. That's the guilt, that Raskalnikovian guilt, that interested me in Mother Night
I liked Howard J. Campbell Jr., Joseph Goebbels best radio propa ...more
Howard W. Campbell, Jr., the protagonist of the story, is a perfect example of someone who tried to do "as the Romans do" in Germany at the inhuman time of Third Reich and World War II and to get rid of his own conscience, yet got completely outplayed by it. It's absolutely impossible not to laugh at his attempts to please everyone and agree with everything his life brought upon him. At the same time his awareness o ...more
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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