Cover image for Armageddon in retrospect, and other new and unpublished writings on war and peace
Armageddon in retrospect, and other new and unpublished writings on war and peace
Vonnegut, Kurt.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : [Penguin Group], [2008]

Physical Description:
232 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 22 cm
Twelve previously unpublished writings on war and peace include such pieces as an essay on the destruction of Dresden, a story about the first-meal fantasies of three soldiers, and a meditation on the impossibility of shielding children from the temptations of violence.
General Note:
Publisher imprint varies.
Letter from PFC Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., to his family, May 29, 1945 -- Kurt Vonnegut at Clowes Hall, Indianapolis, April 27, 2007 -- Wailing shall be in all streets -- Great day -- Guns before butter -- Happy birthday, 1951 -- Brighten up -- Unicorn trap -- Unknown soldier -- Spoils -- Just you and me, Sammy -- Commandant's desk -- Armageddon in retrospect.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3572.O5 A85 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3572.O5 A85 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3572.O5 A85 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3572.O5 A85 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3572.O5 A85 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3572.O5 A85 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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View our feature on Kurt Vonnegut's Armageddon in Retrospect .

Published on the first anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut's death in April 2007, Armageddon in Retrospect is a collection of twelve new and unpublished writings on war and peace. Written with Vonnegut's trademark rueful humor, the pieces range from a visceral nonfiction recollection of the destruction of Dresden during World War II-a piece that is as timely today as it was then-to a painfully funny story about three privates and their fantasies of the perfect first meal upon returning home from war; to a darker and more poignant story about the impossibility of shielding our children from the temptations of violence. This is a volume that says as much about the times in which we live as it does about the genius of the man who wrote it. Also included here is Vonnegut's last speech, as well as an assortment of his drawings, and an introduction by the author's son, Mark Vonnegut.

Author Notes

The appeal of Kurt Vonnegut, especially to bright younger readers of the past few decades, may be attributed partly to the fact that he is one of the few writers who have successfully straddled the imaginary line between science-fiction/fantasy and "real literature." He was born in Indianapolis and attended Cornell University, but his college education was interrupted by World War II. Captured during the Battle of the Bulge and imprisoned in Dresden, he received a Purple Heart for what he calls a "ludicrously negligible wound." After the war he returned to Cornell and then earned his M.A. at the University of Chicago.He worked as a police reporter and in public relations before placing several short stories in the popular magazines and beginning his career as a novelist.

His first novel, Player Piano (1952), is a highly credible account of a future mechanistic society in which people count for little and machines for much. The Sirens of Titan (1959), is the story of a playboy whisked off to Mars and outer space in order to learn some humbling lessons about Earth's modest function in the total scheme of things. Mother Night (1962) satirizes the Nazi mentality in its narrative about an American writer who broadcasts propaganda in Germany during the war as an Allied agent. Cat's Cradle (1963) makes use of some of Vonnegut's experiences in General Electric laboratories in its story about the discovery of a special kind of ice that destroys the world. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) satirizes a benevolent foundation set up to foster the salvation of the world through love, an endeavor with, of course, disastrous results. Slaughterhouse-Five; or The Children's Crusade (1969) is the book that marked a turning point in Vonnegut's career. Based on his experiences in Dresden, it is the story of another Vonnegut surrogate named Billy Pilgrim who travels back and forth in time and becomes a kind of modern-day Everyman. The novel was something of a cult book during the Vietnam era for its antiwar sentiments. Breakfast of Champions (1973), the story of a Pontiac dealer who goes crazy after reading a science fiction novel by "Kilgore Trout," received generally unfavorable reviews but was a commercial success. Slapstick (1976), dedicated to the memory of Laurel and Hardy, is the somewhat wacky memoir of a 100-year-old ex-president who thinks he can solve society's problems by giving everyone a new middle name. In addition to his fiction, Vonnegut has published nonfiction on social problems and other topics, some of which is collected in Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (1974).

He died from head injuries sustained in a fall on April 11, 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography) Kurt Vonnegut is among the few grandmasters of 20th century American letters. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 11, 1922. Vonnegut lives in New York City.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The first piece in this collection, a seeming facsimile of the letter Vonnegut wrote to inform his family that he had not, in fact, died in combat, sets the tone for the rest indeed, for everything he wrote afterward. In terse, reportorial prose, he describes his internment as a POW, the firebombing of Dresden, and his labors among the dead. In the subsequent speeches, essay, and stories, we see one of the twentieth-century's better minds wrestling with the horrors of the age, drafting and redrafting, sometimes losing that famous sense of humor itself surely a defense against too much feeling. The work here is uneven: Happy Birthday, 1951 is a simple, affecting story of boys' attraction to violence, while Great Day, a time-traveling farce, feels like an outtake. Several others capture the pathetic absurdity of war and its aftermath in the author's trademark tone. Not the best introduction to Vonnegut, but certainly fascinating for his countless fans. Unfortunately, review galleys don't include any provenance for the pieces, an omission that will hopefully be corrected for final publication.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2008 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

When Kurt Vonnegut died in April 2007, the world lost a wry commentator on the human condition. Thanks to this collection of unpublished fiction and nonfiction, Vonnegut's voice returns full force. Introduced by his son, these writings dwell on war and peace, especially the firebombing of Dresden, Germany. The volume opens with a poignant 1945 letter from Pfc. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. to his father in Indianapolis, presenting a vivid portrait of his harrowing escape from that city. The fiction, full of his characteristic humor, includes stories about time travel and the impossibility of peace in the world ("Great Day") and, in the title piece, a kind of mock Paradise Lost, Dr. Lucifer Mephisto teaches his charges about the insidious nature of evil and the impossibility of good ever triumphing. In his final speech, Vonnegut lets go some of his zingers (jazz is "safe sex of the highest order") and does what he always did best, tell the truth through jokes: "And how should we behave during the Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should also stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot. And get a dog, if you don't already have one." So it goes. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Acknowledging the first anniversary of Vonnegut's death with 12 unpublished works. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.