Kurt Vonnegut was an American author born in 1922 in Indianapolis. He was one of the most prominent contemporary writers and dark humor commenters of the American society. His preferred genres included science fiction, satire, and black comedy.

Over his fifty-year writing career, Vonnegut published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five non-fiction works. After his death, his son, Mark, published more of his father’s works.

Some of his books include Player Piano, The Sirens of Titan, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and A Man Without a Country.

After the groundbreaking success of Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut was invited to give speeches, lectures and commencement addresses throughout the States.

He was also the recipient of numerous accolades, even being posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. The asteroid 25399 Vonnegut and a crater on Mercury are named in his honor.

Vonnegut breathed his last in 2007, aged 84.


Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a semi-autobiographical novel written with a non-linear narrative. It is an anti-war story with elements of science-fiction. The protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, is a time traveler. He often randomly travels between different moments in his life. He has even spent time on an alien planet, Tralfamadore, where the Tralfamadorians see everything in four dimensions.

Depiction of the Dresden bombing in Slaughterhouse-Five

The bombing of Dresden by the Allied forces in 1945 is the primary plot of the book. Kurt has depicted the horrors of war in his unique style. The story follows the time spent by Billy Pilgrim in the World War II era and describes how he ended up and survived in a blitzed Dresden. Slaughterhouse-Five was where he and the other American soldiers took refuge during the infamous bombing.

Billy keeps traveling between different life events. There are several instances in the book when Billy knew what was to happen next as he had already experienced it.


Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is replete with dark humor. It brutally exposes the horrible and saddest aspects of war in a comic way. The darkness of the comedy, however, is thought-provoking. And therein lies the genius of Kurt Vonnegut.

The plot line is, at best, insane. There is absolutely no way a reader can tell which year Billy is going to travel to next. The characterization is so impeccable that one cannot help relate to him and feel his trauma.

Another interesting facet of Slaughterhouse-Five is that the author actually describes how he came up with the book and part of its title, The Children’s Crusade.

The profound Tralfamadorian theory of life and death is another highlight of the book.


Honestly, we wouldn’t change a single word in Slaughterhouse-Five. The book is an absolute masterpiece, a classic for several centuries to come.


So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry. She didn’t want her babies or anybody else’s babies killed in wars. And she thought wars were partly encouraged by books and movies.

That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.

That is very Earthling question to ask, Mr Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?


Ameya Score:

For anyone wishing to understand the horrors of war and know what a better, peaceful world should look like, Slaughterhouse-Five is a must-read.

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