Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun

Paperback - 1982
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"Mr. Trumbo sets this story down almost without pause or punctuation and with a fury accounting to eloquence."-- The New York Times

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.

Praise for Johnny Got His Gun

"[It is] very hard to write about Johnny Got His Gun without being guilty of understatement or hysterics. It is a terrifying book, of an extraordinary emotional intensity." -- Washington Post

"An extraordinarily agitating book, passionate in its language, potent in its emotional effect, a novel that tells in unsparingly honest words what a wickedly gruesome business war is, and how wickedly wasteful. Johnny Got His Gun, full of horror and hurt, will be a terrific and vivid experience for anyone who reads it." -- Boston Herald

"It is hard to imagine a more persuasive argument for staying out of war than this smooth, savage, brilliant tale." -- Chicago Daily News
Publisher: New York ; Toronto, Ont. : Bantam Books, 1982, c1959.
ISBN: 9780553274325
Characteristics: 243 pages ;,18 cm.


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Apr 23, 2017

5 stars

I read this book in the 70s. Was surprised to learn he had written it after WWI and voluntarily removed it from publication during WWII. Republished in response to the Vietnam War. Movie was made in 1971. Trumbo wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. Having read the book, I remember while watching it (starkly black & white), I was powerfully affected. Called my friend afterwards, asking her if she could hear me. Refusing to testify before the House un-American Activities Committee in 1947, he was blacklisted from the motion picture industry.

Apr 03, 2017

Johnny Got His Gun is a historical fiction story about Joe Bonham, wounded soldier who was blown nearly to smithereens by a landmine during World War I. He has lost both of his legs, both of his arms, his ears, and his entire face and still managed to survive, with nothing but his own mind to keep him company.

I want to say that I absolutely loved this book, but "love" is such a weird word to use in this situation because this novel is horrifying. I can't love the casualties of war. I can't love the situation that Joe is in. I can't love that only a few years after this book was written and published, World War II happened. I can't love the awful that is war.

The one thing I can love is Dalton Trumbo's phenomenal writing throughout this entire novel and his ability to make you feel all the feels for Joe Bonham. I can also love his ability to make you either question how you feel about war or confirm what you already felt about it. I have read that people became pacifist's after reading this novel, so I'm not the only one that thinks it's powerful as heck. The way Trumbo wrote this book is very interesting. He used a third-person narrative combined with a "stream of consciousness" style of writing. This is a cool combination because even though we spend the entire novel inside Joe's head, Joe never refers to himself as "I" - it's always "he". Perhaps this was done to make it even more obvious that Joe has no control over anything in his current situation because "I" is a lot more controlling than "he". If so, that is genius writing. The novel has long sentences, lots of repetition of certain words/phrases, and lack of punctuation to mimic real thoughts in a person's head, especially under moments of stress, anxiety, sheer joy, and happiness. For some people, these reasons may mean that they have a hard time reading this novel, though I would urge to please appreciate it for what it is as it is the best choice for this story. Personally, I loved the writing style and I don't think this novel would have had the same impact if it was written any other way.

If you think Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five is an amazing anti-war novel and you haven't read this one, you probably should. This book affected me way more than SF did. There were quite a few times where I had to stop reading, close the book and just sit there absorbing what I just read. You experience present Joe with his tasks of trying to figure out how to track time and communicate with his nurse, as well as his incredibly deep thoughts and reflections about the war and what has happened to him. You also experience his flashbacks to his life before the war. This book had it all. I am not ashamed to say that I balled my eyes out while reading Chapter 10. That chapter is the most powerful part of any book I have read in my life. In addition, I have "liked" a few of the best quotes from the book that will hopefully show up on this review.

I would rate this book more stars if I could. If it was a 10 star system, it would get 10 stars. I feel like everyone on Earth should read this book; maybe wars wouldn't be a thing anymore if they did...

Apr 20, 2015

Grim, harrowing anti-war novel about a horribly wounded soldier. Dalton Trumbo was a screenwriter ("Spartacus," "Exodus") who feel victim to the blacklist, although he wrote this novel before all that insanity. He adapted it into a film in the 70s and Metallica used footage from it for the "One" video. This book really caught on during Vietnam and Ron Kovic, author of "Born on the Fourth of July, wrote the introduction.

jennywile Mar 31, 2015

Strange that something so lyrical could be gory and disturbing. It's a testament to the writing that it is also beautiful at the same time as disturbing.

Dec 19, 2014

One of the most depressing and beautiful books I have ever read. The writing in this book can be hard to follow at first, and the sudden changes of times in it can be jarring, but it really helps to immerse you in the mind of the main character. You won't want to read this book more than once after you finish it, as there is a true feeling of lost hope from beginning to end. I cried at multiple points reading this, but never wanted to put it down. A real masterpiece.

Feb 06, 2013

I loved this book. It was terrifying and gruesome and I probably will never read it again, but it was amazing. It's pretty hard to follow at first and the point of view changes without warning, but you get used to it. Also, it's pretty dang rare to find a comma in this book, but after a while you find it really shows how a person's train of thought goes along (you get used to it, too).

arrowking Jun 29, 2012

A little classic. Print version of the ballad "Johnny I hardly knew ye``

Library_Dragon Feb 10, 2012

I read this book in high school and I still recall it vividly to this day. One of the best anti-war books I've ever read. Excellent.

Jan 06, 2011

Metallica wrote "One" after watching the movie version of this book; the book is far superior to the movie and I agree that it one of the most moving and disturbing things I've ever read. There is an audio version of this story in the library-to-go which is very well done and absolutely captivating!

This should be mandatory reading for all members of the human race.

daymakerdave Dec 19, 2010

Metallica wrote their contraversial song "One" based on this book. The song and the book are awesome! A deep pshycholigical nightmare unfolds in the mind of a young soldier who looses his arms, legs, sight and speech in the war and "awakes" in a hospital where he is almost totally isolated from the world.

One of the most moving and disturbing books I've ever read.

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Feb 06, 2013

book_nerdd thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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