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Johnny Got His Gun Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1984

4.4 out of 5 stars 429 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This audio edition of Trumbo's classic 1939 novel of war's insanity begins as a bit of a slog because of the lengthy padding at its start. With two introductions, from Cindy Sheehan and Ron Kovic, that attempt to place the novel in the context of more recent armed conflicts in both Iraq and Vietnam, it is the better part of a disc before the book properly begins. Once it does, though, the slog ceases. Trumbo's novel is spine-tingling in its immediacy and horror, and William Dufris (while occasionally fumbling around in his bag of voices) mostly gives the words room to breathe. For this book, little more is necessary. A Citadel paperback.(Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


"Mr. Trumbo sets this story down almost without pause or punctuation and with a fury amounting to eloquence."—New York Times

"It is hard to imaging a more persuasive argument for staying out of war than this smooth, savage, brilliant tale."—Chicago Daily News

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (March 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553274325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553274325
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (429 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Johnny Got His Gun," by Dalton Trumbo, is a powerful novel. The Bantam paperback includes a fascinating introduction by Trumbo, written in 1959 with a 1970 addendum. The intro notes that the novel itself was written in 1938 and published just after the start of World War II. An "About the Author" page at the book's beginning notes that the Colorado-born Trumbo was one of the screenwriters blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

"Johnny" tells the story of Joe Bonham, an American soldier who is horrifically wounded and disabled in World War I. The book is told from Joe's perspective as he struggles to understand and cope with his situation. His mind wanders back and forth between his past, including his war experiences, and his immediate condition. Thus we get a non-chronological but full picture of his complete life so far.

Dalton's prose style in this book made a strong impact on me. At times he seems to be assaulting the reader without mercy as he shows us the horror of war and its terrible human cost. But the book also includes passages of hope, triumph, and heartbreaking beauty. Joe is an unforgettable character, and this truly disturbing book remains a profoundly relevant work of American fiction.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book first almost 25 years ago, when in my early twenties. Recently, I nagged a friend into reading it, and decided to again read the whole book to determine if the considerable effect it had on me in the 70s was simply a reflection of my age at the time.
It wasn't.
The book is still as powerful as it ever was. I do not see how anyone can read this and not be profoundly affected. A line in the synopsis on Amazon.com indicates the book was written about World War I. Actually, no specific war is ever mentioned - only the initial publishing date would infer that. Rather than 1939, it could have been written in 1959, 1969, or even 1869 - war is war and only the technology changes.
The copy I have has an addendum dated 1970 by the author. Read it - it enforces the notion of the waste of war.
If I were a high school English teacher, my seniors would HAVE to read this to graduate. Same if I were a college professor. But even more than that, this should be required reading for ANY politician at the national level.
Rereading this book at the age of 46 has not changed my opinion - absolutely no other piece of literature has had such a profound effect on my life.
Buy it, read it - then pass it on.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
There was a time when war was still noble and ticker tape fell freely on the heads of veterans; our American heroes. There was an era in US history when wars ended with extravagant parades while lovers were reunited after years apart. Dalton Trumbo's chilling novel, Johnny Got His Gun, is about that era--but there are no heroes here. This tale has nothing to do with the romantic homecomings and thrilling American victories. Johnny Got His Gun is about the atrocious reality behind the glitzy Hollywood definition of warfare. Set during World War I, Trumbo's novel tells the story of a brutally injured and disabled man. Isolation has never known such lonliness. The main character, Joe Boeham, describes himself as the "living dead man." He has no arms, no legs, no face, no tongue to speak, no ears to hear, and no eyes to see. This book is the thoughts of Joe Boeham, slipping in and out of time. He describes his past and you can feel the despair in him as he describes his present; his future. The authour's lack of punctuation gives the reader the notion that Joe Boeham has simply a string of thoughts; beginning nowhere and refusing to end. Boeham's goal in life is merely to live. No, not to breathe, not simply to have a steady heartbeat but rather to find in himself some remaining human characteristic. Lying beneath the surface, Dalton Trumbo incorporates Boeham's opinions regarding the draft, warfare in general, and fighting for a word: democracy. A thought provoking, page-turner, Johnny Got His Gun, is not a book you'll soon forget. This is a masterpiece that has touched the masses helping in the struggle to end the glorification of war.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the extraordinary novel, Johnny Got His Gun, the author, Dalton Trumbo, reveals the truth about war by illustrating the struggles of a crippled man through the use of stream of consciousness. The story describes a man's journey after he is wounded in battle during WWI. The man, Joe, is a paraplegic who has no arms, no legs, and is deaf, blind and unable to speak. His every day struggles and feelings are revealed to the reader through examples of his past and his inner most thoughts.
Dalton's fictional character, Joe Bonham, is exactly what his name states, just a regular "Joe." Before the war he had a girlfriend and a family that loved him. He went to school, had summer jobs, and hung out with friends, then came the war. He and all the other "Joes" had to leave behind the ones they loved and go defend a country that could not defend them. Throughout the novel Joe experiences flashbacks into his past. He recalls a summer when he spent a day performing the most grueling labor of his life. At the end of the day he laid there and felt his body ache in anguish as he said, "There was nothing real but pain." He then awakes from his past only to realize his present condition, to which he refers to himself as a "basket case." Another memory that he described was that of the last night he spent with Kareen, his girlfriend. They both knew that they might never see one another again, so they spent his last remaining hours of his civilian life together. As he awakes from this perfect moment in time he remembers his disable figure, and prays that Kareen or his family would never see him in that state. Dalton uses Joe's thoughts and feelings to paint a picture of perfection and simplicity before the chaos of war.
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