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by KURT VONNEGUT
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New softcover book. 216 pages.
Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death was written in 1969. One of Kurt Vonnegut's most popular works and widely regarded as a classic, it combines science fiction elements with an analysis of the human condition from an uncommon perspective, using time travel as a plot device. The bombing of Dresden in World War II, the aftermath of which Vonnegut witnessed, is the starting point.
Slaughterhouse-Five spans the life of a man who has "come unstuck in time." It is the story of Billy Pilgrim experiencing different time periods of his life, most notably his experience in World War II and his relationship with his family. The book is a series of seemingly random happenings that, in combination, present the thematic elements of the novel in an unraveling order.
The short title, Slaughterhouse-Five, refers to the slaughterhouse (Schlachthof-Fünf in German) in which the main character, Billy Pilgrim, stays as a prisoner of war in Dresden during the firebombing. Billy's fictional experience of the slaughterhouse parallels Vonnegut's own experience as a prisoner of war in Dresden.
Slaughterhouse-Five is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centring 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 are afraid to know.
About the Author
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was a prolific and genre-bending American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973).
Kurt Vonnegut's experience as a soldier and prisoner of war had a profound influence on his later work. Vonnegut was cut off from his battalion along with 5 other battalion scouts and wandered behind enemy lines for several days until captured by Wehrmacht troops on December 14, 1944. Imprisoned in Dresden, Vonnegut witnessed the fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945, which destroyed most of the city. Vonnegut was one of a few American prisoners of war in Dresden to survive, in their cell in an underground meat locker of a slaughterhouse that had been converted to a prison camp. The administration building had the postal address Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse Five) which the prisoners took to using as the name for the whole camp. Vonnegut recalled the facility as "Utter destruction", "carnage unfathomable." The Germans put him to work gathering bodies for mass burial. "But there were too many corpses to bury. So instead the Nazis sent in troops with flamethrowers. All these civilians' remains were burned to ashes." This experience formed the core of one of his most famous works, Slaughterhouse-Five, and is a theme in at least six other books.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut