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Publisher's Summary

This was no ordinary war. This was a war to make the world safe for democracy. And if democracy was made safe, then nothing else mattered - not the millions of dead bodies, nor the thousands of ruined lives. This is no ordinary novel. This is a novel that never takes the easy way out: it is shocking, violent, terrifying, horrible, uncompromising, brutal, remorseless, and gruesome...but so is war.

Johnny Got His Gun holds a place as one of the classic antiwar novels. First published in 1939, Dalton Trumbo's story of a young American soldier terribly maimed in World War I - he "survives" armless, legless, and faceless, but with his mind intact - was an immediate best seller. This fiercely moving novel was a rallying point for many Americans who came of age during World War II, and it became perhaps the most popular novel of protest during the Vietnam era.

©1991 Dalton Trumbo; (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[This] is a terrifying book, of an extraordinary emotional intensity." (The Washington Post)
"There can be no question of the effectiveness of this book." (The New York Times)

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Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Carollynn7
  • Kansas City, MO United States
  • 11-27-11

READ THE INTRODUCTION LAST

I saw the movie in 1971 when I was a teenager and had wanted to read the book ever since. I finally purchased it from Audible a few days ago. Unfortunately, I didn't know (or didn't pay attention to) the fact that there was to be an introduction by a mother who had lost her son in Iraq that was intended to create a sense of the outrage she felt at losing her son in a war that was unjustified. It also gave away much more of the plot than I remember from the movie and certainly more than I wanted to hear before reading the book myself.

Don't get me wrong . . . I'm not saying that her outrage is unjustified. It just didn't belong at the beginning of a book that I wanted to discover for myself. It set HER tone, justified though it might be, not mine.

As soon as I realized what was happening to ME as I was listening to the introduction I turned it off and found the beginning of the book. But, alas, I will have to wait awhile before I take it up again.

It reminds me of the time in the early to mid 70's when Charles Schultz ran a Sunday cartoon featuring Lucy and Linus watching "Citizen Cane" on TV. The last plate of the cartoon had Lucy telling Linus, "Rosebud is . . . . . . .". It ruined the anticipation for a whole generation of people who had not seen the movie. People who have read a book or have seen a movie or play should NEVER give anything away that might change the experience for others.

34 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Johnny Got His Gun

The narrator of this audible book makes listening to this book easy. I've read the book, but it is at times very difficult to read due to the lack of proper punctuation (it indicates a drugged state of the first person narration of the book, I believe). The narrator makes it much easier to understand and enjoyable.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Starlet
  • San Carlos, CA, United States
  • 10-17-10

Awesome Story and Narration

This book is truly incredible and when listed to as an audio book -- awesome. I highly recommend it to be listened to with the narration by William Dufris -- it was so realistic that I had to go back to the Editors review of book to confirm that it was indeed Fiction. I've never read anything like it and, personally, think everyone would benefit to listen to, no matter your views on war. I am giving it 5 stars because of this --- it ranted on for a wee bit too long at the end but didn't take away from anything.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Skip the introduction...

The book itself, after you get to it, is well written and flows as erratically as the life of someone in that condition might have theirs go. The introduction, however, is absolutely terrible!

Her rant about her son in a different war, under completely different circumstances plays no bearing, what so ever, on the story itself aside from her take on it. Why she was permitted to write an introduction to this book is beyond me, and why the publisher permitted it to be put in there is, once again, staggeringly beyond me.
You cannot compare the trials and tribulations from a mother's point of view, having lost her son, a volunteer to combat, to the point of view of a soldier conscripted into a war. It's as simple as that.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • Gridley, CA, United States
  • 06-09-12

In A Category of Its Own

Would you listen to Johnny Got His Gun again? Why?

Yes- - - the oration is as excellent as the written work. Every single page brings some poignant reason why life and the living are important and how absolutely obscene is war. Dalton Trumbo's genius and courage are benchmarks for any author or script-writer who even dreams of composing a story that deals with the consequences of war. Trumbo's "Johnny Got His Gun" is, in a serious way, equivalent in impact to "Catch 22" from Joseph Heller. Anyone who claims to be human should dedicate the minimal time needed to experience the stark, rich and artful portrayal of the human aberration called "war" and the ultimate ugly result it can create. In an era where politics have become so polarized and laden with jargon, "Johnny Got His Gun" is a book, which can withstand any pro-war propaganda and end up demonstrating that most wars are fought at the sole expense of the man (and now some women) who are where the lead meets flesh. A more significant work of literature is yet to be written. The question is; "Written by whom and about what?"

What did you like best about this story?

The vividness of the wording and the pictures that came to mind, making it feel real.

Which scene was your favorite?

Irrelevant<br/>

If you could take any character from Johnny Got His Gun out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Dumb question. Joe Bonham was being fed through a gastro-tube.<br/>I am not good enough in Morse Code to communicate with Joe.<br/>Sorry to be sarcastic but the question is irrelevant for this book.<br/>

Any additional comments?

R E A D (Listen to) T H I S B O O K.<br/>It will transform your life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Powerful, important story.

Hard to listen to at points but all the more important for being emotionally evocative. Skip the introductions but definitely read or listen to this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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SKIP SPOILER FOREWARD AND INTRODUCTION!

I first read this book as a high school senior and saw the movie as a college freshman. It remains the most profound, powerful, gut-wrenching book I've ever read, each time, and there have been many, and has influenced every day of my life ever since.
It is unfortunate that the foreward on Audible is such a spoiler. This story builds on itself and to fully experience the impact, you MUST begin with the text itself--CHAPTER TWO. DO NOT begin listening until you've skipped past the forward and introduction. Read them last. Fasten your seatbelt and prepare for the most frightening, unforgettable ride of your life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

required reading

this should be required reading for Everyone. Continues to be relevant after all these years.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Mendota Heights, MN, United States
  • 12-02-15

A classic on tragedy of war...

Would you listen to Johnny Got His Gun again? Why?

I just finished the book, so I'm not in a frame of mind to listen to it again. I enjoyed it immensely--it's like one, long soliloquy. I might listen to it again in the future, but at this point, I'd have to say I wouldn't.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Joe Bonham was my favorite character. He's lying there in a hospital bed, no legs, no arms, no face, just a brain--it's as though he was a prisoner, a prisoner inside the dungeon of his badly wounded body. Joe's struggle to "escape" this prison requires an exploration of existential questions. He eventually is able to tell time. This is a major accomplishment for him. Joe's honesty and candor about his wounded, maimed body is amazing. I enjoyed Joe's commentary on the futility of war.

What about William Dufris’s performance did you like?

Dufris did an excellent job in his performance, an incredible acting job. He added such drama and pathos to the character of Joe Bonham.

If you could rename Johnny Got His Gun, what would you call it?

The original title is a good one, but I suppose if I had to rename it maybe I'd call it The Wounded Warrior.

Any additional comments?

I don't know if the author intended a play on words, but Joe Bonham sounds a bit like the French word "bonhomme," which means fellow or old fellow in French. Certainly, Joe is old beyond his years when he is lying there, helpless in his hospital bed. I think every high school student would do well to read this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Breathtaking

Trumbo exceeded all expectations for what a book could do to a reader. I'm amazed at his writing and speechless of the imagery and compelling story he writes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful