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Publisher's Summary

One of the greatest minds in American writing, Kurt Vonnegut has left an indelible impression on literature with such inventive novels as Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions. Now this iconic figure shares his often hilarious and always insightful reflections on America, art, politics and life in general. No matter the subject, Vonnegut will have you considering perspectives you may never have regarded. On the creative process: "If you want to really hurt your parents...the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding." On politics: "No, I am not going to run for President, although I do know that a sentence, if it is to be complete, must have both a subject and a verb." On nature: "Evolution is so creative. That's how we got giraffes." On modern cultural attitudes: "Do you think Arabs are dumb? They gave us our numbers. Try doing long division with Roman numerals." And on the fate of humankind: "The good Earth, we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy." A Man Without a Country showcases Vonnegut at his wittiest, most acerbic, and most concerned. Beyond the humor and biting satire is an appeal to all readers to give careful thought to the world around them and the people they share it with.
©2005 Kurt Vonnegut; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Exactly the sort of misanthropy hardcore Vonnegut fans will lap up." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall

Good but uneven collection of essays

Any Vonnegut fan will appreciate this satisfying, if uneven, collection of mostly auto-biographical essays. Now past 80, Vonnegut seems to have entered the "curmudgeon" phase of life (or perhaps he always was in that phase), but his observations are still amusing, cutting and mostly insightful. His description of how he still prepares his texts using the "primitive" method of typing, editing, and then having the final manuscript prepared by a professional typist (possible the last such member of that profession in North America), is a gem! And its nice to know he and "Kilgore Trout" are still speaking. Great narration, too. Norman Dietz clearly studied and captured Vonnegut's voice. Shortly after listening to this book I heard an interview on NPR with Vonnegut. His voice was weak and halting. I was shocked at how rapidly he had declined since recording this book last year . . . then I remembered that Dietz, not Vonnegut, had narrated the book. That's how closely Dietz was able to copy Vonnegut's accent and style.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 12-15-16

In it, of it, not free!

As long as there is a lower class. I am in it.
As long as there is a criminal element, I'm of it.
As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene Debs, Quoted in Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

We use humor to dull the pain. We use drugs too, but humor often costs less and last longer. I think one of the reasons I've been so drawn to Vonnegut the last couple weeks is our recent election. Vonnegut almost seems to be a Rosetta Stone for our times. He wrote this, his last book, in 2005. The subtitle of the book was "A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush's America". It is amazing to think that Bush's America seems so tame compared to what is coming 11 years later.

Vonnegut, when I was young as impressionable made me unafraid to call myself a humanist (in my religious milieu a humanist is a dirty word... like socialist and feminist). His voice is often the voice I hear in response to news columns that are dumb, politicians that are corrupt, or corporations that seem unrepentant about their growing bottom line.

Like Mark Twain, Vonnegut appeals to the young and the sweaty masses while also gently ribbing them. Hell, in that way Vonnegut and Twain were a bit like Jesus. I wonder what Vonnegut would think about that comparison? I wonder what Jesus would have thought. Perhaps, it is early, but maybe a kid born in the last couple years will do for Vonnegut what Paul did for Jesus. Maybe in 200+ years there will be a Church where the Blues gets played and on certain Sundays people take turns reading from 'A Man Without a Country" and talking about the time when Vonnegut emerged from that tomb in Dresden.

F#%k and Amen.

12 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

A Great Wirter Reduced to Angry Curmudgeon

This book wasn???t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Not sure. It seems more geared towards malcontents.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Cat's Cradle, so this book doesn't ruin the great man for me. The sooner, the better.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

I think he did a good job with the material he had.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Definitely sadness. Here is one of the great comedic writers of all time and he's just complaining about modernity. It was like watching your favorite athlete come out of retirement to look foolish.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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(Optional) Headline Omitted

Enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut A Man Without A Country
very much.
Four words not written

  • Overall
  • Jen
  • Hamilton, ON, Canada
  • 10-22-05

Very disappointing: Vonnegut just brags and drags

This book was filled with self-loving and self-promoting comments and opinions. Here, VOnagut wasted my time telling me about his artisian wife, doctor son, adopted children, war experiences, role as head of the humanitarians, after Issac Assimov of course. He brags about his successful family, drops names of famous "close" friends, etc... He keeps telling us what a wonderful, influential writer he is, how funny he is...I haven't found anything funny. THis reminds me of my Dad when he is on a self-righteous rant. Very disappointing, very irritating. I cannot believe i bought this. I have never read Vonnegut and now do not plan to.

13 of 46 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Terrible, unfunny rant

I consider myself on the liberal side of political ideology, but this was WAY too much unsubstatiated liberal ranting for me. It started off interesting with a look at Vonnegut's personal history and unconventional road to writing, but after that it went downhill as it turned into a rant about why Vonnegut thinks the United States is a terrible country. I'm not easily offended, but I was at least substantially bothered by the implications that Christians only act benevolently because they think they will be rewarded in the afterlife and by the explicit equating of Christians with white supremists. Being a Christian, I found it particularly offensive and was irritated by his complete lack of understanding (or deliberate misrepresentation) of the subject he was disparaging. I felt he approached other subjects in the same way, by oversimplifying them and then offering unsupported criticism in a "witty" manner. I think the style could have been interesting if I took everything he said for granted (in this case, I think I would need to be much more liberal), but as it is, I was simply not amused and the sarcasm dripping from the narrator's voice was grating on me by the time I decided to stop listening, which was about 30 minutes or so from the end. I do not recommend the book.

2 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I LOVE Kurt Vonnegut. I have read every book multiple times, and listened to audio versions of all I could find. I have seen Slaughterhouse-Five about seventeen times.

However, perhaps he shouldn't read his own prose. He's entitled to do anything he wants to at this stage of his career, but I don't have to listen. His voice drove me nuts, and I'm usually a fan of authors reading their own work.

Too bad.

1 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Archie
  • Round Rock, TX, United States
  • 01-03-11

An intelligent hypocrite...

This is a 2 hour rant on how horrible everything about America is, and how much better we would be as socialists.... I am a conservative, and found only about 15 minutes of redeeming value in the 120 plus minutes of America/Capitalism bashing...

0 of 8 people found this review helpful