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Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death | [Kurt Vonnegut]

Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death

Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Slaughterhouse-Five is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is also as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch-22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it unique poignancy, and humor.

©1969 Kurt Vonnegut; (P)2003 HarperCollinsPublishers, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Hawke rises to the occasion....Hawke adopts a confidential, whisper-like tone...the perfect pitch for this book." (Publishers Weekly)
"The book gets star treatment from narrator Ethan Hawke, who immerses us in the author's words. Hawke almost whispers his way through the text as if letting us in on a big secret, and he is marvelously effective....By the end, Hawke has taken us on a journey that both illuminates the author's words and reflects our understanding of them." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (152 )
5 star
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4.1 (67 )
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4.2 (69 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sara Llanwrtyd wells, United Kingdom 07/01/2009
    Sara Llanwrtyd wells, United Kingdom 07/01/2009 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book"

    One of the stranger books that I have read, but the style of writing is unique and, combined with the excellent narration by Ethan Hawke it is well worth listening to. As for whether it is science fiction, I think this is a misrepresentation of a book that is much more a study of war and its terrible effects, a WWII history book, a study of insanity, with twisted black humour, a character study and some Sci-Fi thrown in. As you can tell, it is a book that is difficult to describe but impossible to forget.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SDY 09/11/2012
    SDY 09/11/2012 Member Since 2012

    Constantly searching for the perfect novel

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Quite remarkable"

    This is not an easy 'read'. The way the story unfolds, through different periods or planets, makes it not easy to follow, you have to really pay attention. But if you do, you'll hear the poetry in the words and the beauty of the prose. Ethan Hawke does an outstanding job as a narrator, pulling you in as if he's telling you some very private memories.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Liverpool, United Kingdom 28/05/2010
    John Liverpool, United Kingdom 28/05/2010 Member Since 2009
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    "Suprisingly accessible and enjoyable"

    I'd agree with previous reviewers that Ethan Hawke has nailed the naration perfectly. The book has a well written forward by the author also read by Ethan Hawke. I would also add that there are a couple of pleasant suprises hidden in the afterwards.
    I'd previously only encountered the film of the book. Interesting to note that the film turned out to be a very fair representation of the book. I thought the book would be a struggle, but really, it's a breeze, at least in this spoken format, probably because KV had, prior to publication, gone thru so many re-writes as to make it not far off a masterpiece. So it goes!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul LondonUnited Kingdom 22/08/2009
    Paul LondonUnited Kingdom 22/08/2009
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    3
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    "Classic"

    An unforgettable book that truly transcends category & is a really great piece of literature.

    Brilliantly read & the sort of audio book that makes you put off doing more important things just to continue listening.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Rowlands Gill,, United Kingdom 18/08/2008
    Stephen Rowlands Gill,, United Kingdom 18/08/2008 Member Since 2005

    Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Forget the abducted by aliens...."

    Slaughterhouse Five is 'science fiction' in the same way that George Orwell's 1984 was shelved in that most iniquitous section at the Lit and Phil library in Newcastle. If your cultural antecedents trace back to S?ren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche then you end up in Metamorphosis....if you are an American, then you end up on the planet Tralfamadore. This is a really good presentation of a great novel - a sometimes forgotten book which will be looked out as people re-read Vonnegut's novel following his death last year. In particular the Schlachthof-F?nf and fire bombing of Dresden depictions shine through and we are left marvelling at the basic humanity in the characterisation of Edgar Derby. Well worth a punt - and listen out particularly for the montage of music and voice as an unusual end-piece. I loved it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harry 19/09/2014
    Harry 19/09/2014 Member Since 2012

    H

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    "Ruined by Ethan Hawke's terrible performance."
    What didn’t you like about Ethan Hawke’s performance?

    He reads like a dodgy uncle seducing his niece in the broom cupboard. A sly monotone that drills into your bones and drains the marrow out. His voice slowly, unrelentingly grinds the book into chalk dust.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    janien hampshire, UK 03/08/2014
    janien hampshire, UK 03/08/2014 Member Since 2010
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    "Classic must read war novel"
    If you could sum up Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade in three words, what would they be?

    Insightful, thought provoking.


    What other book might you compare Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade to, and why?

    I wouldn't compare it to others, it has a unique style and delivery. A true classic and one of the war novels that should be read by all


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, United Kingdom 14/07/2014
    Paul Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, United Kingdom 14/07/2014 Member Since 2010

    If it's well written I'll give it a go. Just spare me from Dan Brown.

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    "Quixotic."

    I have since listened to Don Quixote and in thinking about Danny Pilgrim; the time traveling, alien encountering protagonist of this novel, I am put in mind of that other book and its main character from which the word "quixotic" derives. This is in many ways an odd book but the narrative (helped I think by Ethan Hawke's sympathetic reading of it) has a sad lyricism to it which takes you from the horrors of WW2 to alien encounters and ultimately death. It is I think a "must read" even though I am not sure I fully understand all that the author is trying to communicate. In Billy Pilgrim though, Vonnegut has created an unforgettable character who will stay with you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rev. Clarke Bradford, UK 07/04/2013
    Rev. Clarke Bradford, UK 07/04/2013 Member Since 2012

    Sizewell B

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    "An anti-war classic"

    One of my favourite books; the story of Billy Pilgrim, a man unstuck in time.

    Displaying imaginative ideas and containing my favourite ever passages (where a war film playing backwards is described; planes sucking up bombs, then flying home and dismantling them), the book's inventiveness is juxtaposed by the main character, a contender for the world's most boring and passive man, whose harmlessness makes his presence in WW!! all the sadder.

    A recurring motif is the book's reaction to death; "So it goes", we hear after every fatality, which stops this loss off human life becoming mundane as it would otherwise do, and makes us think about how many deaths the book has informed us of.



    Ethan Hawke is suitably subdued throughout the reading, which wouldn't work in most audiobooks, but is actually quite fitting here, albeit monotonous.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    craig Manchester, United Kingdom 11/03/2013
    craig Manchester, United Kingdom 11/03/2013
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    "Right up there..."

    It's still sinking in just how good this book is... I finished it half an hour ago and have been sat reflecting upon it. I just know that I must help people pondering how best to use one of their credits: Get this!



    It is only 5-6 hours long but is packed with so many profound moments that would, if you were reading instead of listening, cause you to stop reading and stare into space for long enough for it to sink in. I had to pause, rewind, and listen again in order to never forget what had been said so many times...



    Ethan Hawke also did an excellent job.



    I will listen to this again!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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