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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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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: One of the most important novels of the past 50 years, it is remarkable and immensely important in an age of war. But this book is about more than war; it is about time, perception, and the calamitous nature of mankind. Ethan Hawke's reading is superbly done, wonderfully capturing Vonnegut's absurdism. The great treasure of the audiobook is in the interview with Vonnegut and the musical piece at the end, which brings to vivid new life one of the most powerful passages in the book. —Chris Doheny

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

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  •  
    John Menlo Park, CA, United States 12-02-11
    John Menlo Park, CA, United States 12-02-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What Great Books Are"

    Should have listened to it a long time . . . never got around to it and am now kicking myself. Was in the middle of a poorly written book (albeit with good content) and switched mid-stream out of frustration.

    The immediate leap in the quality of the prose was SO refreshing! Truly a classic book---it will be read for generations to come. Remarkable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jarrod Los Olivos, CA, United States 11-05-11
    Jarrod Los Olivos, CA, United States 11-05-11 Member Since 2010

    I'm an engineer/scientist with too little time, I therefore rely heavily on other's reviews - I hope to pay you back with my own thoughts ;)

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    "Required reading. 20th century genius, distilled!"

    Fully deserving of its lofty position on the top shelf of 20th century literature, this book is able to take people where perhaps they don't want to go - but need to.

    This books tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, a leaf is the maelstrom of 20th century life - taken to war and back again. And again and again.

    Vonnegut is the master of contrasts, using ingenious and original literary invention to show us the idiocy of war, the inevitability of death, the quiet terror of safe suburban life - and the personal tale of how we all blunder through - until we don't any more.

    The honesty, the humour, the serious lesson underneath - simply brilliant.

    Ethan Hawke proves a good reader, a little breathy, though he makes you feel he is taking you into his confidence - and after a while the story stops all thought of the narrator which is as it should be.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H. Connelly Philadelphia, PA 05-24-07
    H. Connelly Philadelphia, PA 05-24-07 Member Since 2003

    Mojo Risen

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    "As expected"

    This was the first Vonnegut book I've listened to. The book was what I thought in style but not what I expected in content. It did not disapoint me. Highly recommended. Everyone needs to know who Billy Pilgrim is.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Fairfax, VA, USA 12-07-05
    Richard Fairfax, VA, USA 12-07-05
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    "Excellent"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. The reader was a good reflection of the author's tone. The book itself is a great read, as this is my first Kurt Vonnegut book. I look forward to his other books.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doing-fine-in-FLA Florida United States 10-24-05
    Doing-fine-in-FLA Florida United States 10-24-05 Listener Since 2003
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    "A new voice for an old friend?"

    Ethan Hawke gives a new voice to our old friend Billy Pilgrim. Vonnegut triumphs with this odd tale of one mans mind as it travels the psychological minefields of World War II and the 1950s. The interview with Vonnegut at the end is a nice bonus for old friends. For those who find comparisons to contemporary writers helpful, I think anyone who enjoys Chuck Palahniuk will love this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Ware Aurora, CO USA 04-11-08
    A. Ware Aurora, CO USA 04-11-08 Member Since 2003
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    "I liked Ethan Hawke's Narration"

    The story is great, and, unlike some other readers, I thought Ethan Hawke's reading was great and that he added just the right touch of emotion to the book.

    I also found myself thinking back to one of my other favorite listens, The Time Traveler's Wife, while listening to this. It is fascinating to think of being able to experience your life "out of order". This book was just a joy to listen to.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Murfreesboro, TN, United States 04-25-13
    Amazon Customer Murfreesboro, TN, United States 04-25-13 Member Since 2013
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    "So it goes..."
    What did you like best about Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade? What did you like least?

    imagery- "Billy" is not a character per se- more of a plot marker or chess piece.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the idea of time overlapping. this book is an interesting way to describe a situation that may not otherwise be able to be put into words


    What didn’t you like about Ethan Hawke’s performance?

    He sounds utterly bored. Perhaps in an attempt to sound ultra hip or cool- he overshot and came off as half asleep or completely apathetic. It was my biggest complaint.


    Was Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade worth the listening time?

    It was different. I don't think it is amazing- it is just unusual.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 08-26-12
    Michael 08-26-12

    Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Love the book, love the author."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book nether glorifies war or criticise it, it just is, or as it is repeated in the book on the subject of death, so it goes. Billy is an innocent who should not of been in the Battle of the Bulge, neither prepared or capable. You follow Billy through flashbacks, time jumps and the future. He is neither protagonest or victim, but along for the ride. Bad things happen around him and to him but it does not really change him. Sometime in life, this is how ones feels I guess.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade?

    Billy and some POWs come across some young girls showering in Dresden. They have never seen naked women before. They are suffering from weakness and starvation and just stare. The German soldier in charge closes the door and they go back to the story. It shows innocence and how surreal the whole situation is.


    What does Ethan Hawke bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Ethan Hawke is fantastic at reading this book. He captures each and every character perfectly. Love his work.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Just passing through, please don't bother.


    Any additional comments?

    Love this book. First real book I ever read and have loved the author ever since. I have read all Vonnegut's books, and now listening to them. This book would be the best of his works.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randall Austin, TX, United States 02-20-12
    Randall Austin, TX, United States 02-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Checked off my short-list"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade to be better than the print version?

    The audio presentaion is very good. Ethan Hawke does a superb job narrating the story. He has a great voice that is calming yet engaging and comes across well.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, it is a book that is very interesting and compelling enough to finish in one sitting, its length is also short enough to allow.


    Any additional comments?

    Favorite part of the story is Vonnegut's time-in-reverse description of the Allied bomb run over France and Germany. I found it moving and would love to see an animated version of it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison LINCOLN, NE, United States 02-05-12
    Allison LINCOLN, NE, United States 02-05-12 Member Since 2011

    I have a passion for all things science, music, and outdoors. I am also a "crazy dog lady."

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    "riveting"
    Where does Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of my favorites so far.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Never a dull moment.


    Any additional comments?

    This book lives up to the hype!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 98 results PREVIOUS12310NEXT
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  • chris
    CHELTENHAM, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Entrancing"

    In an attempt to catch up on some classic novels i've missed along the way, I choose this without knowledge of the author or plot. I understand now why it is held in such high regard. Conveying similar reflections to war as chronicled by Orwell in Homage to Catalonia, Vonnegut puts you in the eyes of the foot soldier of WW2 from a perspective that is humbling.

    This is much more than a war novel though, Vonnegut flows fluidly through time and space giving this book an engaging sense of the huge social changes and destruction that took place only a generation ago. Time travel and musings on elderly reflection leave you looking at your own existence with new eyes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dan Bowen
    Sydney
    4/9/12
    Overall
    "Sorry about Dresden"

    A very creative mix of sci-fi satire and historical fact, softly and effectively read by Ethan Hawke.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ayse
    Istanbul, Turkey
    4/2/12
    Overall
    "Very Smart and Stimulating"

    Having a title about a Slaughterhouse, I have never imagined this book, to this moving, this poetic and fun. I cannot classify the book, as it has been a very interesting experience for me to listen to it (especially finely read by Ethan Hawke). I came to an understanding about creative writing, and I am reading the other books by the author to keep the unique taste it has left in my brain!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Derek Holman
    uk
    10/15/10
    Overall
    "flyingsaucerarearicepaperandsherbetconfection"

    This is a work of great profundity. Based on actual events and his own experiences of WW11,KV takes us on a journey to the centre of our own humanity.
    Time travel or insanity?
    A perfect marriage of literary excellence and faultless narration make this a must listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-14 of 14 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

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