Slaughterhouse-five, Or, The Children's Crusade

Slaughterhouse-five, Or, The Children's Crusade

A Duty-dance With Death

Book - 2005
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"A fourth-generation German-American now living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod (and smoking too much), who, as an American infantry scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, "The Florence of the Elbe," a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale. This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from. Peace."
Publisher: New York : Dial Press, 2005.
Edition: Dial Press trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9780385333849
Call Number: VONNEGUT
Characteristics: 275 p. ; 21 cm
Subjects: World War, 1939-1945 -- Fiction.
Free will and determinism -- Fiction.
Historical fiction.
Science fiction.
War fiction.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 23, 2020

Blindness, greed, corruption, justice and dehumanization. Just a couple of the themes found the in the anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five, written by American writer and World War II veteran Kurt Vonnegut. 20 years past, Vonnegut, under the guise of protagonist Billy Pilgrim, explores the fire-bombing of Dresden, one of the worst massacres in European history, with mockery and dark humor despite his own personal horrible memory with the event, and disgust with the realization that war is nonsensical. Through Billy Pilgrim's wacky adventure, Vonnegut explores his own past, and details the Dresden massacre which was relatively uncovered by media, yet like Vonnegut, scarred many WWII veterans for life.

JCLMyshaP Mar 30, 2020

A darkly humorous classic that blends surreal sci-fi elements and nonlinear storytelling to fully express the disillusionment of war. It's a truly fascinating read of the life of Billy Pilgrim and one I will no doubt return to for deeper understanding of its complex themes, strange imagery and metaphors.

Jan 31, 2020

This book will probably take me a few times to read before I fully understand everything. And maybe I'll never understand all of it. I loved how the book always kept you guessing where the narrative was going to go next. It also left it up to the reader to determine if the alien abduction was real or not. It could have been true, or it could have been from the book he found in the store which had the same plot, or it could've been an effect of PTSD of the war and that was his coping mechanism. I liked his dry sense of humor and bluntness. Overall I enjoyed the book but gave it a lower rating because I was lost in the story frequently.

IndyPL_SteveB Oct 11, 2019

Indianapolis-born Kurt Vonnegut’s most well-known novel.

Some writers emphasize characters or plot or philosophy. In *Slaughterhouse Five*, at least, Vonnegut appears to be using ideas pulled out of a hat, or maybe just the bag of his own war-inflicted PTSD. Vonnegut’s novels have very little structure and tend to bounce around, although even the bouncing around serves to tie elements of the books together in surprising ways. So stick with it, because it all adds up to something bigger.

*Slaughterhouse Five* is the name and number of a building in Dresden, Germany where Kurt Vonnegut was taken as an American prisoner of war in 1945, just a few days before part of the city was destroyed by an intense Allied Fire-bombing. The bombing is the centerpiece of the life of his central character, Billy Pilgrim, trapped in the slaughterhouse basement while the bombs fell. Perhaps because of the bombing, Billy becomes “unstuck in time.” In his mind, he jumps back and forward in time from his birth and school days through his military service, marriage, fatherhood, airplane crash, and eventual death. He also is (or believes he has been) kidnapped by aliens from the plane Tralfamadore, who place him in a zoo and teach him the truths of the universe. Aside from the bombing of Dresden, which Vonnegut obviously thought was unnecessary and inhumane, even for war, the plot doesn’t matter as much as Vonnegut’s wry observations on life, death, and the silliness of human beings.

Aug 13, 2019

This is a book that has an acid trip in the middle of it. The switch from war to peace to an alien world keeps you attached. It also makes it a very fast 200+ page book. I finished it in just a few hours. Final judgement: It's a page turner.

onehalfofyouth Jan 16, 2019

SH-5 is the book I go back to the most. A favorite line from this story; "People would be surprised if they knew how much in this world were due to prayers."

Jul 10, 2018

This book is smart and complex and has a big impact but I can't say I loved reading it. I found it quite difficult at times to absorb. There is so much delivery in these simply worded sentences. Add that to the constant time shifts and I became frustrated because I felt I was missing the point at times. It was like the concepts were too big for me to take in in the rapid fire form he uses where every sentence is a worthy or meaningful statement. It was bleak and tragic in a way that sometimes pulled at my heart and other times left me feeling numb and hopeless. He would suck the joy out of me in one paragraph and then throw in such a witty, dry one liner that you couldn't help but smile. It is a book about war and death and the concept of time and the questionable idea of humanity. Too much to take in with just one reading. I'll have to try it again one day but until then I can say I greatly admire Vonnegut.

SPPL_Kristen Mar 20, 2018

17 year old me was really into Vonnegut. 23 year old me is, too, but in a less obnoxious way (I hope).

May 09, 2017

A tale of impossibilities, outrageous ironies, and tragic comedies of angst. I enjoyed the dark version of existentialism as a theme. There is also a dark take on humanity that provokes a sad sort of laughter (which is the only type of humor in this book): a serious message is followed by a meaningless, mundane observation (reminds me of the movie Ordinary People, which I recommend). Further, after a death, Vonnegut recognizes the deceased with the anticlimactic "And so it goes." Despite the good of the novel, I feel that either some of the messages of the novel were not effectively conveyed or they simply weren't there at all: there were several repeated phrases that had no meaning to me, as did the majority of the novel. If you like this book, I would recommend 1984 by George Orwell.

Vonnegut uses that neat trick so often employed by David Letterman; he repeats the same phrase over and over in different contexts until you find it uncontrollably funny. Aside from his insightful wit, he also manages to convey the absurdity of human conflict. So it goes.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Apr 18, 2020

black_deer_138 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

CMLibrary_ecrites Jul 27, 2016

CMLibrary_ecrites thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

May 31, 2015

ckaldahl thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Sep 08, 2009

Anarchy_Bunny thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Quote
jenniferzilm May 02, 2018

“And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.”

SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"All this happened, more or less."

Jun 16, 2013

"Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

May 22, 2013

"So it goes."


Add Notices
May 09, 2017

Sexual Content: About a dozen innuendos and there is sex, but it is not described.

May 09, 2017

Coarse Language: A few cuss words.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at GCPL

To Top