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Slaughterhouse-five, Or, The Children’s Crusade
by Kurt Vonnegut
by Kurt Vonnegut
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 World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”
An instant bestseller, Slaughterhouse-Five made Kurt Vonnegut a cult hero in American literature, a reputation that only strengthened over time, despite his being banned and censored by some libraries and schools for content and language. But it was precisely those elements of Vonnegut’s writing—the political edginess, the genre-bending inventiveness, the frank violence, the transgressive wit—that have inspired generations of readers not just to look differently at the world around them but to find the confidence to say something about it. Authors as wide-ranging as Norman Mailer, John Irving, Michael Crichton, Tim O’Brien, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, David Sedaris, Jennifer Egan, and J. K. Rowling have all found inspiration in Vonnegut’s words. Jonathan Safran Foer has described Vonnegut as “the kind of writer who made people—young people especially—want to write.” George Saunders has declared Vonnegut to be “the great, urgent, passionate American writer of our century, who offers us . . . a model of the kind of compassionate thinking that might yet save us from ourselves.”
Fifty years after its initial publication at the height of the Vietnam War, Vonnegut’s portrayal of political disillusionment, PTSD, and postwar anxiety feels as relevant, darkly humorous, and profoundly affecting as ever, an enduring beacon through our own era’s uncertainties.
“Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement.”—The Boston Globe
by Kurt Vonnegut
Shadows of Slaughterhouse Five
by Ervin E. Szpek, Frank J. Idzikowski
Today more than sixty years after the firebombing of Dresden, the statue of a steer wishing health and happiness to the citizens of Dresden still stands at the entrance to the public slaughterhouse, a silent witness to the maelstrom that descended upon Dresden and this group of 150 American POWs housed within, Now after more than 60 years of silence for most of these men, Kurt Vonnegut’s fellow POWs tell their story of Slaughterhouse Five, in their words as they saw it — dog face young soldiers assured that the war was soon to be over!
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five
by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Captured by Germans after World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, soldier Kurt Vonnegut and other prisoners were taken to Dresden, Germany, where they were confined in a cement enclosure used for butchering livestock and called “Slaughterhouse-Five.” Several weeks later, American and British planes firebombed Dresden, killing 135,000 civilians and leveling the city. Amazingly, the prisoners survived, by taking cover in an underground meat locker. Vonnegut spent two decades coming to grips with the experience, producing this classic American novel as his ultimate response to the ordeal. In this new collection of critical essays, students of literature will find information about the author’s life and other works, an index for quick reference, notes on the contributing writers, and an introductory essay by noted literary scholar Harold Bloom.