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Billy Pilgrim is the son of an American barber. He serves as a chaplain's assistant in World War II, is captured by the Germans, and he survives the largest massacre in European history--the fire bombing of Dresden. After the war Billy makes a great deal of money as an optometrist, and on his wedding night he is kidnapped by a flying saucer from the planet Tralfamadore. So begins a modern classic by a master storyteller.
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It took Vonnegut more than 20 years to put his Dresden experiences into words. He explained, "there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again." Slaughterhouse Five is a powerful novel incorporating a number of genres. Only those who have fought in wars can say whether it represents the experience well. However, what the novel does do is invite the reader to look at the absurdity of war. Human versus human, hedonist politicians pressing buttons and ordering millions to their deaths all for ideologies many cannot even comprehend. Flicking between the US, 1940's Germany and Tralfamadore, Vonnegut's semi- autobiographical protagonist Billy Pilgrim finds himself very lost. One minute he is being viewed as a specimen in a Tralfamadorian Zoo, the next he is wandering a post-apocalyptic city looking for corpses. Slaughterhouse Five-Or The Children's Crusade A Duty-Dance with Death is a remarkable blend of black humour, irony, the truth and the absurd. The author regards his work a "failure", millions of readers do not. Released the same time bombs were falling on South East Asia, this title caused controversy and awakening. Essential reading for all. So it goes. --Jon SmithReview:
"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
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