Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007. So it goes.

Slaughterhouse-Five, one of his most important works, is a novel based on his own experiences in the Dresden bombing during World War Two. He survives it because the Germans put him along with other American POWs into an underground meat locker known as Schlachthof-fünf, or Slaughterhouse-five. But rather than speak about it plainly, Vonnegut in this book pushes several limits of literature, and the result is a most unique book. It begins with Vonnegut himself talking about the book, and then launches into the story of Billy Pilgrim, the main character, who undergoes spontaneous time travel (he is referred to as “unstuck in time“) , fights in WW2, and is abducted by aliens from Trafalmadore (though not necessarily at the same time or in that order). And so on.

The book is strongly anti-war, depicting numerous counts of death during WWII, as well as in other times. So it goes. To depict this, Vonnegut uses time as a main feature. Not only does Pilgrim as aforementioned travel in time, but the aliens who abduct him are 4-dimensional, and see all time at once. To them, when someone dies, it means nothing because at some point in time they are alive and always alive; they ceremonially say “So it goes.” The plot itself is de facto multi-stranded, as even though it is about one person’s life, it is about different times of it, in seemingly random order.

Just a side note: For part of the time while reading this book, I was listening to the Schindler’s List soundtrack—a very moving WWII combination.

The Most Dangerous Enemy

I figured that one natural thing to put in the personal blog of a curious student (or a “reasoner,” which I think has a better ring) would be works, whether of the typographic era or the age of entertainment, that I find interesting and some comments from a reasoner’s point of view. This, I presume, would constitute a review.

Thus, I felt it would be fitting to start my collection with The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain (2000) by Stephen Bungay. As its subtitle states, it gives a detailed and well-researched account of the Battle of Britain, an aerial engagement in 1940 between the German Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force (RAF) chiefly in the skies of southeast England.

Bungay debunks the myth that the battle was won by “the few,” according to popular legend a handful of fighter pilots who fought against overwhelming odds and saved Britain from defeat. In reality, German defeat resulted from a wide range of factors, from the reconnaissance advantage held by the British in their invention of radar to the incompetency of the German High Command in the most critical decisions regarding which locations to bomb. As a comprehensive record, The Most Dangerous Enemy demonstrates also the Battle of Britain’s vital importance in determining the fate of Europe and the rest of the world.

This book is actually a strange interest for me because I normally do not read history. Yet, the book is more than powerful enough to appeal to the curious reader.