Slaughterhouse-Five pdf, Summary, Themes, Analysis, Sparknotes

Slaughterhouse-five pdf by Kurt Vonnegut or, The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a 1969 semi-autobiographic science fiction-infused anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut. It follows the life and experiences of Billy Pilgrim, from his early years, to his time as an American soldier and chaplain’s assistant during World War II, to the post-war years, with Billy occasionally traveling through time. The text centers on Billy’s capture by the German Army and his survival of the Allied firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war, an experience which Vonnegut himself lived through as an American serviceman. The work has been called an example of “unmatched moral clarity”] and “one of the most enduring antiwar novels of all time”.

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Slaughterhouse-Five Summary

The story is told in a non-linear order by an unreliable narrator (he begins the novel by telling the reader, “All of this happened, more or less”). Events become clear through flashbacks and descriptions of his time travel experiences. In the first chapter, the narrator describes his writing of the book, his experiences as a University of Chicago anthropology student and a Chicago City News Bureau correspondent, his research on the Children’s Crusade and the history of Dresden, and his visit to Cold War-era Europe with his wartime friend Bernard V. O’Hare. He then writes about Billy Pilgrim, an American man from the fictional town of Ilium, New York, who believes that he was held at one time in an alien zoo on a planet he calls Tralfamadore, and that he has experienced time travel.

As a chaplain’s assistant in the United States Army during World War II, Billy is an ill-trained, disoriented, and fatalistic American soldier who discovers that he does not like war and refuses to fight. He is transferred from a base in South Carolina to the front line in Luxembourg during the Battle of the Bulge. He narrowly escapes death as the result of a string of events. He also meets Roland Weary, a patriot, warmonger, and sadistic bully who derides Billy’s cowardice. The two of them are captured in 1944 by the Germans, who confiscate all of Weary’s belongings and force him to wear wooden clogs that cut painfully into his feet; the resulting wounds become gangrenous, which eventually kills him. While Weary is dying in a rail car full of prisoners, he convinces a fellow soldier, Paul Lazzaro, that Billy is to blame for his death. Lazzaro vows to avenge Weary’s death by killing Billy, because revenge is “the sweetest thing in life”.

Slaughterhouse by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse by Kurt Vonnegut

At this exact time, Billy becomes “unstuck in time” and has flashbacks from his former and future life. Billy and the other prisoners are transported into Germany. By 1945, the prisoners have arrived in the German city of Dresden to work in “contract labor” (forced labor). The Germans hold Billy and his fellow prisoners in an empty slaughterhouse called Schlachthof-fünf (“slaughterhouse five”). During the extensive bombing of Dresden by the Allies, German guards hide with the prisoners in the slaughterhouse, which is partially underground and well-protected from the damage on the surface. As a result, they are among the few survivors of the firestorm that rages in the city between February 13 and 15, 1945. After V-E Day in May 1945, Billy is transferred to the United States and receives an honorable discharge in July 1945.

Through non-chronological storytelling, other parts of Billy’s life are told throughout the book. After Billy is evicted from the radio studio, Barbara treats Billy as a child and often monitors him. Robert becomes starkly anti-communist, enlists as a Green Beret and fights in the Vietnam War. Billy eventually dies in 1976, at which point the United States has been partitioned into twenty separate countries and attacked by China with thermonuclear weapons. He gives a speech in a baseball stadium in Chicago in which he predicts his own death and proclaims that “if you think death is a terrible thing, then you have not understood a word I’ve said.” Billy soon after is shot with a laser gun by an assassin commissioned by the elderly Lazzaro.

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Slaughterhouse-Five author – Kurt Vonnegut        

Kurt Vonnegut was a writer, lecturer and painter. He was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During WWII, as a prisoner of war in Germany, he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired Slaughterhouse Five. First published in 1950, he went on to write fourteen novels, four plays, and three short story collections, in addition to countless works of short fiction and nonfiction. He died in 2007.

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All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn’t his. Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war. And so on. I’ve changed all the names. I really did go back to Dresden with Guggenheim money (God love it) in 1967. It looked a lot like Dayton, Ohio, more open spaces than Dayton has. There must be tons of human bone meal in the ground. I went back there with an old war buddy, Bernard V. O’Hare, and we made friends with a taxi driver, who took us to the slaughterhouse where we had been locked up at night as prisoner of war. His name was Gerhard Müller. He told us that he was a prisoner of the Americans for a while. We asked him how it was to live under Communism, and he said that it was terrible at first, because everybody had to work so hard, and because there wasn’t much shelter or food or clothing. But things were much better now. He had a pleasant little apartment, and his daughter was getting an excellent education. His mother was incinerated in the Dresden fire-storm. So it goes. He sent O’Hare a postcard at Christmastime, and here is what it said: ‘I wish you and your family also as to your friend Merry Christmas and a happy New Year and I hope that we’ll meet again in a world of peace and freedom in the taxi cab if the accident will.’ I like that very much: ‘If the accident will.’

I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety and time. When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have to do would be to report what I had seen. And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpiece or at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big.

But not many words about Dresden came from my mind then-not enough of them to make a book, anyway. And not many words come now, either, when I have become an old fart with his memories and his Pall Malls, with his sons full grown. I think of how useless the Dresden-part of my memory has been, and yet how tempting Dresden has been to write about, and I am reminded of the famous limerick: There was a young man from Stamboul, Who soliloquized thus to his tool,

‘You took all my wealth

And you ruined my health,

And now you won’t pee, you old fool’

And I’m reminded, too, of the song that goes

My name is Yon Yonson,

I work in Wisconsin,

I work in a lumbermill there.

The people I meet when I walk down the street,

They say, ‘What’s your name?

And I say,

‘My name is Yon Yonson,

I work in Wisconsin…

And so on to infinity.

Over the years, people I’ve met have often asked me what I’m working on, and I’ve usually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden. I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, ‘Is it an anti-war book?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I guess.’ ‘You know what I say to people when I hear they’re writing anti-war books?’ ‘No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?’ ‘I say, “Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead?”‘

What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that too. And, even if wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.

When I was somewhat younger, working on my famous Dresden book, I asked an old war buddy named Bernard V. O’Hare if I could come to see him. He was a district attorney in Pennsylvania. I was a writer on Cape Cod. We had been privates in the war, infantry scouts. We had never expected to make any money after the war, but we were doing quite well. I had the Bell Telephone Company find him for me. They are wonderful that way. I have this, disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I get drunk, and I drive my wife away with a breath like mustard gas and roses. And then, speaking gravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators to connect me with this friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years. I got O’Hare on the line in this way. He is short and I am tall. We were Mutt and Jeff in the war. We were captured together in the war. I told him who I was on the telephone. He had no trouble believing it. He was up. He was reading. Everybody else in his house was asleep. ‘Listen,’ I said, ‘I’m writing this book about Dresden. I’d like some help remembering stuff. I wonder if I could come down and see you, and we could drink and talk and remember.’ He was unenthusiastic. He said he couldn’t remember much. He told me, though, to come ahead. ‘I think the climax of the book will be the execution of poor old Edgar Derby,’ I said. ‘The irony is so great. A whole city gets burned down, and thousands and thousands of people are killed. And then this one American foot soldier is arrested in the ruins for taking a teapot. And he’s given a regular trial, and then he’s shot by a firing squad.’ ‘Um,’ said O’Hare.’Don’t you think that’s really where the climax should come?’ ‘I don’t know anything about it,’ he said. ‘That’s your trade, not mine.’

As a trafficker in climaxes and thrills and characterization and wonderful dialogue and suspense and confrontations, I had outlined the Dresden story many times. The best outline I ever made, or anyway the prettiest one, was on the back of a roll of wallpaper. I used my daughter’s crayons, a different color for each main character. One end of the wallpaper was the beginning of the story, and the other end was the end, and then there was all that middle part, which was the middle. And the blue line met the red line and then the yellow line, and the yellow line stopped because the character represented by the yellow line was dead. And so on. The destruction of Dresden was represented by a vertical band of orange cross-hatching, and all the lines that were still alive passed through it, came out the other side. The end, where all the lines stopped, was a beetfield on the Elbe, outside of Halle. The rain was coming down. The war in Europe had been over for a couple of weeks. We were formed in ranks, with Russian soldiers guarding us-Englishmen, Americans, Dutchmen, Belgians, Frenchmen, Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Australians, thousands of us about to stop being prisoners of war. And on the other side of the field were thousands of Russians and Poles and Yugoslavians and so on guarded by American soldiers. An exchange was made there in the rain-one for one. O’Hare and I climbed into the back of an American truck with a lot of others. O’Hare didn’t have any souvenirs. Almost everybody else did. I had a ceremonial Luftwaffe saber, still do. The rabid little American I call Paul Lazzaro in this book had about a quart of diamonds and emeralds and rubies and so on’ He had taken these from dead people in the cellars of Dresden.’ So it goes.

An idiotic Englishman, who had lost all his teeth somewhere had his souvenir in a canvas bag. The bag was resting on my insteps. He would peek into the bag every now and then, and he would roll his eyes and swivel his scrawny neck,, trying to catch people looking covetously at his bag. And he would bounce the bag on my insteps. I thought this bouncing was accidental. But I was mistaken. He had to show somebody what was in the bag, and he had decided he could trust me. He caught my eye, winked, opened the bag. There was a plaster model of the Eiffel Tower in there. It was painted gold. It had a clock in it. ‘There’s a smashin’ thing,’ he said. And we were flown to a rest camp in France, where we were fed chocolate malted milkshakes and other rich foods until we were all covered with baby fat. Then we were sent home, and I married a pretty girl who was covered with baby fat, too. And we had babies. And they’re all grown up now, and I’m an old fart with his memories and his Pall Malls. My name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there. Sometimes I try to call up old girl friends on the telephone late at night, after my wife has gone to bed. ‘Operator, I wonder if you could give me the number of a Mrs. So-and-So. I think she lives at such-and-such.’ ‘I’m sorry, sir. There is no such listing.’ ‘Thanks, Operator. Thanks just the same.’ And I let the dog out or I let him in, and we talk some. I let him know I like him, and he lets me know he likes me. He doesn’t mind the smell of mustard gas and roses. ‘You’re all right, Sandy, I’ll say to the dog. ‘You know that, Sandy? You’re O.K.’ Sometimes I’ll turn on the radio and listen to a talk program from Boston or New York. I can’t stand recorded music if I’ve been drinking a good deal. Sooner or later I go to bed, and my wife asks me what time it is. She always has to know the time. Sometimes I don’t know, and I say, ‘Search me.’

Slaughterhouse-Five quotes

“And even if the wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 1

 “As a trafficker in climaxes and thrills and characterization and wonderful dialogue and suspense and confrontations, I had outlined the Dresden story many times.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 1

“The nicest veterans in Schenectady, I thought, the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 1

“We went to the New York World’s Fair, saw what the past had been like, according to the Ford Motor Car Company and Walt Disney, saw what the future would be like, according to General Motors. And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 1

“He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 2

“All this responsibility at such an early age made her a bitchy flibbertigibbet.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 2

“They crawled into a forest like the big, unlucky mammals they were.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 2

“It is, in the imagination of combat’s fans, the divinely listless loveplay that follows the orgasm of victory. It is called ‘mopping up.'”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 3

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to always tell the difference.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 3

“The legs of those who stood were like fence posts driven into a warm, squirming, farting, sighing earth. The queer earth was a mosaic of sleepers who nestled like spoons.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 3

“I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 4

“My God–what have they done to you, lad? This isn’t a man. It’s a broken kite.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 5

“So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe… Science fiction was a big help.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 5

“And on and on it went that duet between the dumb, praying lady and the big, hollow man who was so full of loving echoes.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 5

“The skyline was intricate and voluptuous and enchanted and absurd. It looked like a Sunday school picture of Heaven to Billy Pilgrim.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 6

“In my prison cell I sit,/ With my britches full of shit,/ And my balls are bouncing gently on the floor./ And I see the bloody snag/ When she bit me in the bag./ Oh I’ll never fuck a Polack anymore.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 7

“There are no characters in this story and almost no dramatic confrontations because most of the people in it are so sick and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters. But old Derby was a character now.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 8

“Rumfoord was thinking in in military manner: that an inconvenient person, one whose death he wished for very much, for practical reasons, was suffering from a repulsive disease.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 9

“The cattle are lowing,/ The Baby awakes./ But the little Lord Jesus/ No crying he makes.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 9

“Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 9

“If what Billy Pilgrim learned from the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all live forever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still–if I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m grateful that so many of those moments are nice.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 10

Where to buy Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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. You can buy this great read from the following sites online:

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Editorial reviews and praise for the book

 “Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement.”—The Boston Globe

“Very tough and very funny . . . sad and delightful . . . very Vonnegut.”—The New York Times

“Splendid . . . a funny book at which you are not permitted to laugh, a sad book without tears.”—Life

“Funny, satirical, compelling, outrageous, fanciful, mordant, fecund . . .  ‘It’s too good to be science fiction,’ [the critics] would say. But Vonnegut doesn’t care, and you won’t care, either, because this is a writer who leaps over genres.”—Los Angeles Times

Customer reviews on Amazon for Slaughterhouse five by Kurt Vonnegut

Jeremy David Stevens
4.0 out of 5 stars There’s a lot more going on there than what’s on the surface.
Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2018
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I remember reading this in American Literature class, and I always wanted to come back to it because it’s just one of those books that I don’t think reading it once will suffice. There’s obviously a lot more going on there than initially meets the eye. There’s the obvious story, which is about Billy Pilgrim, a veteran and optometrist who is seemingly suffering from some sort of mental illness like PTSD from his time in the war, and also some sort of possible brain damage suffered from an airplane crash. These elements compound each other and Billy finds himself traveling through time to different points in his life; during his time in World War II, during his time with his wife Valencia, on a planet inhabited by the Tralfamadorians (who have him locked up as a human zoo exhibit), and a few others.

But then there is the author’s underlying messages, one of which is about the utter senselessness of war. The Germans are making candles out of the Jews while Americans are melting German teenagers and we all know that the Soviets were starving tens of millions of their own while fighting the Germans. It’s just a vicious cycle of death and evil. The other message is a philosophical one. There’s a very strong sense that there is no free will and there is also a sense of nihilism that no matter what we do, the outcomes are fixed, and the future unchanging. I hope that the philosophical message isn’t a correct one. I tend to side with those who believe strongly that we are in control of our fates and that no matter how dire the circumstances, we have the choice to make things a little bit better. Ironically I think Vonnegut has done exactly that with his book. He has made an impact with this book by bringing awareness to the evils of war. Read the book. It’s a good one.

Tim OBriant
4.0 out of 5 stars It’s Vonnegut, so…boyer beware
Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2019
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I write this review for the first-time Vonnegut reader. In my freshman year at Texas Tech University, we read “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (I’ll call it BOC from now on.) It wasn’t the first piece of illustrated literature I’d read, but all the quirky illustrations were simple, hand-drawn images of objects I never expected to be depicted in such a way, such as little girl underpants and a beaver. In BOC, Vonnegut (pardon if I don’t put the Jr. on each time) introduced the character Kilgore Trout, a writer of science fiction. At one point, Kilgore Trout has an exchange with a truck driver that includes this conversation:

“Excuse me,” said the truck driver to Trout, “I’ve got to take a leak.”
“Back where I come from,” said Trout, “that means you’re going to steal a mirror. We call mirrors leaks.”
“I never heard that before,” said the driver. He repeated the word: “Leaks.” He pointed to a mirror on a cigarette machine. “You call that a leak?”
“Doesn’t it look like a leak to you?” said Trout.
“No,” said the driver. “Where did you say you were from?”
“I was born in Bermuda,” said Trout.
About a week later, the driver would tell his wife that mirrors were called leaks in Bermuda, and she would tell her friends. [Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of Champions (pp. 91-94). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.]

I remember laughing out loud at that passage, Anyway, I fell in love with what I thought was his sense of humor and went on to read six more of his books. As I did, I got more and more depressed. I eventually quit reading his books because I couldn’t take it. One of them that I never got around to reading was “Slaughterhouse-Five”. I wish I had. It would have explained a lot.

Like “Breakfast of Champions”, Vonnegut put himself, along with his characters, into the books. This is especially true in “Slaughterhouse-Five” (which I will now refer to as S5). S5 chapter 1 begins with Vonnegut’s own story. Chapter 2 begins the story of Vonnegut’s avatar, Billy Pilgrim. The story, both the fictional and true elements, is how during the Second World War they got to the German city of Dresden and then survived its firebombing. Witnessing that event in particular and World War II, in general, had a profound effect on Vonnegut. He became charmingly cynical in the extreme.

An NPR writer said this about him, “Kurt Vonnegut was a counterculture hero, a modern Mark Twain, an avuncular, jocular friend to the youth — until you got to know him.” He wanted to reach young people with his writing even though he was 50 years old. So he created a writing voice that reached the Viet Nam-era youth to tell them his damaged views of life. It worked. Books like S5 and BOC flew off the shelves. Normally, you have to be dead a long time before they are teaching your books in freshman college courses unless you have become a countercultural hero. Such was the case. (BOC was published in 1973 and I was a freshman in 1975.)
Listen:You may think I am warning you not to read this or any of his books, but it isn’t true. I think he was a brilliant writer and truly was an American master. But, I also think you should inform yourself about what is going on behind the scenes. There is no lack of information about the enigma that was Vonnegut, so do a bit of digging and make sure you understand something about the trip you will take. One of the things you’ll discover about his books is to watch for his “signature move”. In BOC, the little drawings were the quirky window dressings he added. In S5, he uses the phrase “So it goes.” When you read S5, you’ll see this phrase every time death is mentioned, whether it is the death of a person, an idea, a product or whatever. There has been a fair bit of analysis written about what he meant by it. One of the things about World War II that deeply affected Vonnegut was the mass killing of people whether by firebombing (Dresden, Tokyo, etc) or the nuclear bombing of cities (Hiroshima, Nagasaki). This was death on a grand scale and it had a profound effect on his mind. In S5, there are over 100 references to death and each one is accompanied by “So it goes.” Quite often, the references are both ghastly and ironic.
Here is an example:
“Early in 1968, a group of optometrists, with Billy among them, chartered an airplane to fly them from Ilium to an international convention of optometrists in Montreal. The plane crashed on top of Sugarbush Mountain, in Vermont. Everybody was killed but Billy. So it goes.
While Billy was recuperating in a hospital in Vermont, his wife died accidentally of carbon-monoxide poisoning. So it goes.” [Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five (p. 31). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.] I hope you enjoy “Slaughterhouse-Five”; I did. However, I protected myself by waiting until I was 63 and knew how to guard my mind. Others can tell you more about what you’ll get from the story. I’m just here to make sure you are wearing your safety harness.

Dr J ReadsTop Contributor: Poetry Books
5.0 out of 5 stars Where it All Started
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2017
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My high school English teacher gave me this book with the caution, Don’t tell anyone I gave this to you. Guess I let her down here. A classic read and perhaps the one you want to start with when reading Vonnegut. Cat’s Cradle is the only book in his bibliography that rivals this one. Restless and prodding writing that will make you laugh out loud and shake your head at the same time.

A.J. Sefton
4.0 out of 5 stars Original, thought-provoking anti-war novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 17, 2019
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I finally got to read this book on the 50th anniversary of its publication. The originality of this anti-war book made it worth the wait and the themes are as valid today as they ever were. The story is mainly set in Dresden during the Second World War, although eventually the protagonist realises that timeline of his life is something he can choose to enter when he chooses. So the story flits from his early days to when he is quite old and he experiences death, getting married, his daughter’s marriage and so on. But it his time in Dresden that is the most disturbing. He is a prisoner of war during the firebombing, captured as an American soldier fighting for the Allies. There is intricate detail of his peers, the characters’ suffering and the things they had to do to survive. The significant feature is that they are young men, naive of the world they inhabit, hence the alternative title of The Children’s Crusade.
In his future, the protagonist finds himself an exhibit in a glass cage on another planet. There he is observed and given a mate in an attempt to breed. This could be viewed as a science-fiction thread or an escapist strategy due to his post-traumatic stress disorder. The theme is free will versus fate, both on Earth and on the other planet, concluding that everyone does what they have to do: ‘So it goes’. The story is witty, ironic and poignant. It looks at death, warfare, time, suffering, innocence, morality and fate. It is simply written from one man’s perspective as he witnesses and lives through the destruction and effects of war. An accessible book that leaves plenty to think about.

An Owl
5.0 out of 5 stars Hit me like a punch to the guts
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 5, 2020
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I first read Slaughterhouse Five as student – getting on for twenty five years ago now. I loved it and have returned to it at intervals ever since. I seem to have misplaced my original copy in more recent times, so when I saw this version I felt it time to revisit an old favourite. This re-reading hit me hard. Without spoiling the plot, I read it much less as a time-travelling science fiction story and much more as a tale of the desperate effect that witnessing a horrendous war-time event had on the main character. Maybe the intervening years have changed me. Maybe my own perspectives on life and death had changed. I don’t know. I do know that the book hit me like a punch to the guts. A book then to read and re-read. Just don’t expect a happy ending.

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