Retelling SHS Stories: Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade

On this day in 1969…

Shortridge Daily Echo — November 20, 1969

By: Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Reviewed by Kris Lawson, English 111g

This book is shattering. I cannot praise it too much. Vonnegut makes evident his genius once again.

The general theme is that of “war is awful.” With that effortlessly sophisticated innocence the author proves his point! After reading this book, is it possible to disagree with the anti-war protestors? There can be no more relevant book.

The story revolves around Billy Pilgrim, a man who has become “unstuck” in time. He is the son of an American barber, serves as a chaplain’s assistant in World War II, and is captured by the Germans.

The settings are World War II Germany, upper-state New York and Tralfamadore, and are incredibly human. The author uses the war scenes to demonstrate the horror and futility of conflict. He illustrates the suffering of unarmed people under the force of the American and Nazi war mechanisms.

Kurt Vonnegut is a much misinterpreted writer, although his books are among the most popular of the decade, particularly on the college campuses. Among his works are “Cat’s Cradle,” “Mother Night,” “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” and “Player Piano.” With the publication of “Slaughterhouse Five” he is being recognized as a man of great scope and depth. His style is bitingly, brilliantly satirical, and his books are hard to put down.

This one, more than any other, drained me. Never have I been so torn, so sorrowed by a description of war. Conflict takes on new meaning after reading this book. The author’s sorrow is real; his sarcasm is brutal. He pours salt on an open wound. Read this book. It compels one to weep for man and for men and for children.

This story is a part of the series Retelling SHS Stories produced by the Shortridge Archives. Shortridge Archives meets on alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays weekly. For more information email Mr. Durrett at Stay tuned for more stories like this one!