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Johnny Got His Gun Paperback – January 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: BANTAM BOOKS; 39 edition edition (1989)
  • ASIN: B000PGHS72
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (376 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,769,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This intense book will make you cry and it will make you think.
KLM
This book is one that will stir up strong feelings for the man portrayed.
easterbran
I read this book first almost 25 years ago, when in my early twenties.
number9@nabi.net

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on December 31, 2004
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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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Andree', a reader on April 23, 2001
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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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By number9@nabi.net on August 26, 1999
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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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By kim pietrzykowski on August 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) was a fascinating person. A confirmed communist in America's Hollywood, he marched in lockstep wherever the Party ordered. He started screenwriting in 1935 as a confirmed anti-Nazi, but when the Russo-German pact was announced, Trumbo embraced pacifism as a way to keep the U.S. from acting against the Nazis. The book "Johnny Got His Gun" dates to this period.

After Hitler double-crossed Stalin, and invaded the Soviet Union, Trumbo dropped his pacifism like a live grenade, and worked on such pro-war movies as "A Guy Named Joe" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo." When the icy winds of the Cold War began to blow, Dalton moved back towards pacifism, writing the screenplay for the movie version of "Johnny Got His Gun" in 1971, during the height of the Vietnam War.

So, if you want an interesting book, by one of Hollywood's great writers, then read this book.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By KLM on May 6, 2001
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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