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113 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One soldier's struggle
"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...
Published on December 31, 2004 by Michael J. Mazza

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought- Provoking, But Not Without Its Problems
Trumbo makes some powerful points in this book, and raises some great questions; are those who are killed in war proud to have died for their country? Since the dead don't talk, there is no way of knowing. Through the character of Joe Bonham, he allows us to more closely consider this question. Bonham has lost his capacity to "live" in any real sense of the...
Published on February 5, 2004 by Mr. Tickle Snort


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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality, June 4, 2005
I read this book in high school and it was a shocking reality of the horrors of war. However, coming from a long line of people who served in the military, it was a reality. God blessed my family enough to spare all of our lives in war (WWI, WWII, VietNam and Iraqi), but we were all aware that things could happen. Things like this did happen and reading this book is a slap in the face. Yes, it's sad, but it is something that is meant to send a message. As for what that message is...well, that's up to the reader. Who cares if he was a so-called Communist. He was a great author and had a way of getting under people's skin. A timeless piece. I think the Pres. should read this.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Johnny Got His Gun is among the best books I have ever read., February 6, 2004
By A Customer
Dalton Trumbo is truly a gifted author. His book has given me an entirely different perspective on how I look at war and everything that comes with it. It has made me take a second look at issues in society today. The speeches he includes in this novel are inspirational and uplifting. I was in awe after reading them. It made me ponder why we even bother with war. I definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEFORE YOU SEE THE RECRUITER. . ., December 11, 2005
. . .THIS BOOK SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING.
Also read Dieter Dengler's Escape From Laos.Escape from Laos

You may decide to change careers.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Book Can Stand On Its Own, Thank You Very Much, April 30, 2011
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Book - 5 stars.

This edition - 1 star. We don't need the accompanying essays by Cindy Sheehan or Ron Kovic, and Trumbo's 1970 addition adds nothing.

I first read "Johnny Got His Gun" as a teenager in the early 1970s. The edition our school library had was pre-1970 so the only bit of editorial blurb was Trumbo's 1959 reflections. For that, I will remain ever-thankful. This edition, with the unfortunate addition of Trumbo's 1970 addendum (there's a reason there is an argument about "director's cuts"), Ron Kovic's 1990 regurgitation of his Seventies' schtick, and Cindy Sheehan's "I stand for every mother" ramblings, undermines a book which continues to need no help.

I never forgot the book - even as I entered the military in the late 1970's. I'm ending 30+ years in uniform next month and I can assure you I never took the position that war was glamorous, but unlike Mr. Kovic and Ms. Sheehan, I do believe war is sometimes necessary. And with it being necessary, those in uniform and those who love them will undoubtedly suffer.

Left to stand alone, "Johnny Got His Gun" is a perfect recounting of the loss of innocence. But the loss of innocence is not suffered by Joe Bonham (Joe "Bon Homme"?) alone. Perhaps unwittingly, Trumbo chronicles a horrible realization by an entire generation. Of course, the young Bonham doesn't think the generals (or any of the high muckity-mucks) who sent him off to be wasted care a lick, but the reality of the post-World War I era was that EVERYONE was scarred (though perhaps not as visibly as our protagonist). As a rational work, "Johnny Got His Gun" doesn't stand up to scrutiny. It is personal anecdote and pathos at its best. But anecdote and pathos do not a viable public policy make.

And here is where I take issue with the Kovic and Sheehan essays. Their essays are less about the book and more about their personal agendas. According to Kovic and Sheehan, war is always wrong. But that clearly can't be true, even to severe pacifists like Sheehan and Kovic. Are they saying that there are no causes worth fighting for, worth suffering loss for? Even if they continued to say that all war is wrong, I can't believe they actually believe it. Even the title of Sheehan's book ("Not One More Mother's Child") implies that even she would fight (and I mean this literally) for something. Also, how do Sheehan and Kovic reconcile their view of Trumbo and "JGHG" with Trumbo's "Spartacus? Unless Trumbo was nothing but a shill, even he saw the need to fight (I imagine many of Spartacus' gang didn't feel so great about being wounded, crucified, killed). So which is it? Is war utterly wrong ("JGHG") or is it sometimes "right" ("Spartacus")? The problem here is that they are caught on the horns of a dilemma - they are trapped by their own rhetoric as someone's just cause is always someone else's "JGHG." So while I don't deny Ms. Sheehan's or Mr. Kovic's losses or seek to minimize their losses, their positions are nothing more than emotional responses to pain and hardly the stuff we should rally around in creating our public policies on self-defense, international affairs, or war. Their views are heartfelt and honest, but juvenile, naive, and fatal.

I guess the publisher felt the essays would draw in more readers. But I sense they "turn off" more than they "turn on" because "Johnny Got His Gun" has its own appeal and drawing power across the entire ideological spectrum and Sheehan and Kovic alienate at least one-third of the spectrum. Finally, while my views on war, defense, etc. most likely disagree with those whose ideological beliefs coincide with Mr. Kovic's or Ms. Sheehans, can't we all come to the book for our own reasons, enjoy the book without the addition of essays of questionable value, and in the end agree that fiddling with masterpieces generally does nothing to make them better?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Needed for Honors English -- good except the depressing parts, August 1, 2014
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Coach G (Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
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Depressing book, but it was useful for my son's Honors English
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, Haunting, Nightmarish, Gripping., May 2, 2004
Historian, Howard Zinn author of "A People's History of the United States" named this book as one of the books that influenced him the most in his life;thus, I decided to read it because I wanted to see what sort of book had the power to affect the writer who affected my life in the same way.

With no time to do much but study for upcoming tests, I picked this novel up and couldn't not put it down. Although I was running out of time for studying for a final exam, every paragraph,page,chapter,and section of this book would not let me go. Once the nightmare begun, I had to finish it.
I finished the book 7 hours after starting it. That night I was hoping I would not dream about it once I went to sleep. The existence of the main character is haunting;his thoughts and dreams always weaving a mesh with no dicernible beginning or end, reality and dreams are all the same. However,I you get abosorbed by this book and you will become the "hero" of the story: his disillusion, frustration, and helplesness will become your own.
If you ever felt patriotic,or gung-ho,then read this book. I guarantee you too will question the theology of patriotism,or the falsity of its preachers. Like those who wave flags and appeal to the patriotism of others, asking them to risk their lives in wars while they stay home and watch the war unfold in the evening news. The hypocrisy of politicians,pundits, and other so-called leaders are conspicously brought to bear and they are mercilessly indicted by Joe Bonham, the protagonist of the novel.
However, this is an indictment of a mind that although alive, it lives in silence and darkness. The stream-of-conciousness narrative of the novel goes deeper and deeper into the nothingness of an existence which has been completely cut off from the physical world. With no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no tongue to speak: just total,coplete and unending nothingness; just him and his thoughts.
In the book, Joe Bonham wants to die and live all at once. He is continously trying to keep himself busy by trying to figure out the time of day, what country he is in, the schedule of nurses. In short, trying to regain a foothold in the real world, while skating at the edge of insanity.
Just thinking about the novel is maddening,the final pages of the book alone make it one that I know will haunt me every night for the next few nights,along with every quiet moment I may have, just like it did right now when I decided to write this review. I just hope I don't ever dream about this book, reading it alone was enogh like a nightmare. Its like the dream sometimes people have where they are suffocating, drowning or unable to breathe; only to wake up and realize their face is pressed against the pillow. If you ever had a dream like that one consider yourself lucky you woke up: In this book, Joe Bonham never did.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mortifying Read, October 7, 2004
By 
A deep and gripping book. Even though at times it may seem a little unrealistic and out-dated, believe me; it still is very relevant today (especially with the current Iraq/Middle East situation). A "man what would I do or feel if I was in that situation" book that leaves you numb but thinking at the same time. A well written and easy to read book that plays well on settings, flashbacks, and personal stories and tradgedies. On top of that, this was written before WWII. An overlooked book that must not be missed.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It wasn't the most interesting book I've read, October 28, 1999
By A Customer
This book was very hard to follow at the beginning. It got much easier to follow at the end. It was one of the most anti-war books that I've ever read. This book had to many things brought back from Joe's life. Maybe if we have known him better we could have enjoyed it a lot more. Joe's explanation of war was who needed it. So Joe's history was that he had regreted going to war.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better, could have been worse., October 28, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Johnny Got His Gun (Paperback)
"Johnny Got His Gun" is a book written to express the pain and suffering that war inflicts on its soldiers. I think that the message in this book is, don't fight in a war unless you absolutely have to, it is not worth it. Although I feel that Joe Bonham believes this, his thinking is affected by the fact that he was left without arms, legs, and a face. He turns sour and sarcastic to everybody and everything because of his situation. In the beginning, it is almost impossible to not get lost in the memories that Joe recalls. Overall, the book does get better as it goes along, but the ending is disappointing.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, February 22, 2004
By A Customer
Every thinks that going to war is an honor, and so did I until I read this book. This book really makes you think and gives you a whole different perspective. You do so much for your country, pay taxes, go by the law (well most of us) honor and respect fellow citizens, and what does your country do? They force you to leave everything you ever loved to go kill other people that had to leave their loved ones also. Thanks to this book, I've realized how important it is to try to prevent war. Thank you. I definitely recomend this book to everyone.
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Johnny Got His Gun
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Paperback - July 1, 2007)
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