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Publisher's Summary

Cat's Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut's satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet's ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist; a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer; and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat's Cradle is one of this century's most important works...and Vonnegut at his very best.
©1963 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Robert
  • Yamhill, OR, United States
  • 06-22-12

KV at his best.

To say that I worship at the alter of Kurt Vonnegut would be more mawkish than overstated. He is and will probably always remain one of my all-time, favorite authors. When picking up a book, one can only hope that the author can write; the surprise comes when an author’s contributions transcend what is on the printed page. Such is usually the case with KV. Not only can he write his butt off, he has the absolutely, incredible talent to hold up this mirror for all of us to see the travesty of so much we hold sacred in this American Experience and then laugh at the same time that we cry at our reflection.

About writing itself, KV once said in an interview, “Well, I've worried some about, you know, why write books ... why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it's been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with ... humanity, and however you want to poison their minds, it's presumably to encourage them to make a better world.” Bottom line for me, that’s what KV’s writings are always about: Humanity.

In 1971 the University of Chicago awarded KV his Master's degree in anthropology for Cat's Cradle. While at first blush that might seem a bit over the top, after reading this treatise on such subjects as science and technology, religion and morality, ethics and law, it becomes quite clear about his critique, KV did his homework. And, the originality of his work is unmistakeable. There are folks out there today such as Al Franken and Jon Stewart for whom KV had to have been an influence. KV was one of the originators of the movement for modern, self-reflection at least in contemporary America. That being said, this is not an unapproachable work reserved for the academic elite. This book is for the entertainment and edification of anyone and everyone: the unread generals, unwashed presidents and your any, off-the-street, Joe Blow, the Plummer. I cannot imagine anyone with a scintilla of humanity not loving this book. You're not into social critique you say. Great, read it just for the fun of it. It is funnier than _ _ _ _, well, it's just plain fun.

The narration could have possibly been done differently and still worked. It's hard to believe that it could have been done better.

32 of 35 people found this review helpful

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BABIES FULL OF RABIES

THE SECRET OF LIFE.......PROTEIN
When I was in my twenties I read the hard copy. In my forties I listened on cassette and now in my fifties I downloaded it. I still don't like it.

WHAT IS SIN?
If you are a Douglass Adams fan, you will probably like this. Now that I am older I do find that I understand more of it. I like books with plots and this plot is very thin. It is a thesis on War, Government and whatever else ticks off Kurt. There are some laugh out loud parts, but most of it is meandering POETIC CRAP.

TO BE SOMETHING ELSE AND PROUD OF IT.
The narrator is fantastic. He reads great and does outstanding characters. His timing in excellent, helping the listener to catch some of the jokes, he may not catch while reading.

Most people either love him or hate him. There is not much middle of the road. In my twenties I thought he was silly, in my forties I just did not find him funny. In my fifties, I need a plot.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great book, awful recording

I was really excited to find Cat's Cradle, as I am a huge Vonnegut fan. But this recording is old and somewhat garbled, the narrator is dry, and does a poor job defining the characters so it is hard to follow. He really destroys the excitement and mystery of the story, which is too bad. Are there any better recordings out there for this book?

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • thomas
  • charlotte, NC, United States
  • 08-11-13

One of the Best Performances on Audible

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I sure would, its a great book and a great performance by Tony Roberts.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I mean this book is hysterical, touching, thought provoking and well written. I would say Hazel encapsulated all elements of this for me, but every character is well done.

Which character – as performed by Tony Roberts – was your favorite?

The Hoenicker's, who really have elements of the story line in their background and characterizations.I cannot say this enough, Tony Roberts does a great job. He is an actor here, not a narrator. His nuances bring out Vonnegut's writing in a terrific way. I think it is the narration I have heard on Audible.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laugh is not the word. Hysterical, might be more accurate. This is funny and sad at the same time, which makes it so compelling.

Any additional comments?

Vonnegut is an important writer in American literature. This is one of his premier works and Audible does it justice. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Cat's cradle - Mega Mockery of our societies ...

Kurt's Vonnegut "Cat's Cradle" is one of the most strange books I've ever read.


The plot starts quite innocently with the narrator presenting himself as a writer planning to write a book about the American nuclear bomb inventor. This goal has perfect sense and is aimed at showing how "normal" was the life of those who, by their activity, created means to kill masses of people. In his pursuit, the narrator makes friends within the family and co-workers of the bomb inventor. They may hid the great secret of late father of the bomb - the mysterious Ice-9.
At this stage of the narration a fictional religion of Bokononism is introduced, with is fundamental concept of karass - the group of people, who are working together to fulfil God's will.

The plots goes crazy when the narrator arrives to a fictional island of San Lorenzo. Here, the events spiral quite fast. Shortly after arrival he is offered to become the president of the nation of the island - and he accepts that post, being in love with the women who was destined to be the wife of the president. Just at the moment of his inauguration as the president, the small plane crashed at the rock on which presidential palace stood and that crash ignited the sequence of events ending in the ultimate cataclysm with almost all the population of the island gone and with all water transformed at room temperature into hard ice after the spillage of Ice-9 in the accident.

Through this crazy plot, Vonnegut tells the most ironic refutation of our society, military pursuit, political system, "forbidden fruit" man-made religions and cults. The most important of those is the mockery of man-made religions. Bokononism, invented for the purpose of the novel, reveals so close resamblance to some cults and sectarian groups that we can only marvel about Vonnegut's wit and Machiavellian wisdom...

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 01-10-17

Stupid & vicious as men are, this is a lovely day!

"...for the quotation captured in a couplet the cruel paradox of Bakononist thought, the heartbreaking necessity about lying about reality, and the heartbreaking impossibility of lying about it.

Midget, midget, midget, how he struts and winks,
For he knows a man's as big as what he hopes and thinks!"
-- Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle


I first read this in 9th grade. The grade my two kids are right now. Life has a way of making you feel both old and insignificant. When I first read this book I was focused on the technology of Ice-9 and the absurdity of weapons of mass destruction. This time, as I read it in a quickly cooling bath.* Seriously, all men over 40 should read this book naked in a bath that is quickly losing its heat, while wrinkles develop on their hands, feet, etc. There is nothing emasculates a man faster than a cold bath, nakedness, age, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Anyway, 28 years after first reading it and I still love this book. It was my first Vonnegut. One of my first exposures to the world of literature as absurdism, dark satire, and the wicked wink of postmodernism. I was hooked.

* with all this damn technology, one would think it would be easy to develop a better system for insulating baths. During the last 60 years, our society has gone from porcelain to plastic. So, now I can't even scratch OR freeze my ass in my tub and remain dignified.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Crazy!

This book is hysterically funny, totally satirical, and one of the best books I've read recently. It is a clever comment on government, religion and personal relationships that seem to make no sense at all but when you step back and look at each episode through the eyes of history, it is easy to see that he is talking about us! I believe he is telling us to stop taking ourselves so seriously and enjoy life a little more. I'm going to think about this book a lot and will surely revisit it in the future.

The narrator, Tony Roberts, is outstanding! His characterizations are just incredible. Loved this whole book and highly recommend it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not for everyone ...

This novel is typical Vonnegut and requires that you think ... but not too much throughout. If you over think it, you won't understand it ... but if you are expecting to be spoon fed a a story with all the plot lines hilighted for simplicity, then this is certainly not for you.

The narrator gives you the feeling of sitting down around a fire and listening to your grandfather tell a tale of days long past. I actually quite enjoyed it.



9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Strangely Compelling

This was my second Vonnegut book. I had previously listened to "Mother Night". I did not like this one as much as Mother Night but I must admit that there is something about Vonnegut that brings your thoughts back to his odd tales. This is a book that keeps on giving because the listener feels strangely compelled to make sense of something that, I get the impression, the author never cared if it made sense.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Can't get through it

The story is a bit scattered so I think this may be better approached with a physical book so I can flip back whenever I get thrown off.

The main reason I can't get through it. His voice has some extremely intense vocal fry, which he exaggerates every time he acts the part of a male character. I find it grating and distracting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Chanoch
  • 04-01-08

Excellent introduction to the short american novel

I don't have much exposure to American literature but this was the start of a love affair with the short novel. Vonnegut has a great way of getting to the point, making subtle points about human nature and he seems to be obsessed by fate. It seriously expanded my choice of books.

If you like your stories rooted in reality, then this one might not be for you but otherwise there's humanity in this story and a plot that holds you attention. A great book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Eugene
  • 12-16-12

Laughter and Despair

Vonnegut makes me laugh. The world he creates is ridiculous, but equally it has all the foibles and cruelty of the real world. For fun, and to add to the despair there is the religion of Bokononism. A religion that is hypocritical, false and cruel. A religion that offers some sense of acceptance of life, but only if we accept that it's falseness is the only solution to the madness that men perpetrate. The Cat's Cradle is the metaphor for the world of the book; playful, complex; a trick.The reading of the audiobook is not too cynical and not too flat; just right.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. S. B. D. Henderson
  • 09-13-15

Cat's Cradle - that pleasure is mine

Having only read Breakfast of Champions previously I am a newcomer to Voneguts writing, but having had this book recommended from a number of quality sources I decided it was time to branch out!
A very satisfying rendition of a superb piece of writing.
I am considering converting to Bokononism, because the Bokononist foma is better than the foma of the other religions...
The short interview with Kurt Vonegut at the end is a nice way to cap off the experience too :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 07-07-17

Very well read book.

The reader's sardonic tone perfectly fits this classic novel. This was a very enjoyable listen.

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  • Hugh
  • 05-14-16

complex and informative

a study in futility and psychology. vonnegut uses his wartime experience of destruction to imagine a world where science ultimately destroys the world

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  • gianluca
  • 03-04-16

I expected more

it's a decent audiobook, narrator is decent but.
I compare the story with catch 22 hence a bit disappointed, the style is poorer but the book compensate with the absurdity of the story.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Hannah
  • 08-07-15

Wonderful!

Any additional comments?

A wonderful book brought to life by a fantastic narrator. A nice, concise read with so many layers to it. Highly recommend!

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  • David
  • 01-01-15

A great story, well told

Where does Cat's Cradle rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Up there, probably top 5. Very easy to listen to. Very punchy and concise, and keeps you gripped. Also very clever and thought provoking.

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  • Stephanie Jane
  • 03-05-14

As many layers as an onion!

I'm sure that there's still more layers to this novel that passed me by, but I enjoyed its wicked humour and sharp observations of human behaviour. The storyline is wonderfully outlandish and I would be interested to know if the science of Ice Nine is even feasible? However, it is the calypsos of the Bokononist faith that I think will be the most memorable for me. The astute comments on religion, power, learning and life are so true.

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  • Lesia Sinyagovska
  • 04-06-16

Authentic.

I have never read anti-utopia story like this. Truly authentic. It's very powerful how Vonnegut talk about serious social issues using very simple language constructions.
Tony Roberts has made this book even more enjoyable by the way he vocalizes each character.
And bonus interview with the author in the end is very interesting.

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  • Jorja
  • 09-27-15

Good story and narrator.

Was an interesting book. The narrator read very well and made the experience very enjoyable. Really brought out each character's personalities.