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A Man Without a Country Hardcover – Unabridged, September 6, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first book since 1999, it's just like old times as Vonnegut (now 82) makes with the deeply black humor in this collection of articles written over the last five years, many from the alternative magazine In These Times. But the pessimistic wisecracks may be wearing thin; the conversational tone of the pieces is like Garrison Keillor with a savage undercurrent. Still, the schtick works fine most of the time, underscored by hand-lettered aphorisms between chapters. Some essays suffer from authorial self-indulgence, however, like taking a dull story about mailing a manuscript and stretching it to interminable lengths. Vonnegut reserves special bile for the "psychopathic personalities" (i.e., "smart, personable people who have no consciences") in the Bush administration, which he accuses of invading Iraq so America can score more of the oil to which we have become addicted. People, he says, are just "chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power." Of course, that's exactly the sort of misanthropy hardcore Vonnegut fans will lap up—the online versions of these pieces are already described as the most popular Web pages in the history of In These Times. (Sept.)
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'Part memoir, part rant and part joke, Vonnegut's latest book is as elusive as it is beguiling. Throughout this slim volume, the author walks a fine line between despair over our deteriorating world and a consummate entertainer's urge to amuse' Sunday Times 'Vonnegut's A Man without a Country is pure late Twain, darkly funny, never less than enraged at corruption and greed, and overflowing with compassion for the powerless. We've never needed him more' Russell Banks 'If Vonnegut isn't the enduring Good Humor man, who is?' John Irving, The Times 'This enjoyable volume of reflections and anecdotes reminds us what is unique about the author of those startlingly good American novels Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions ... Kurt Vonnegut is one of the greatest writers of the past 50 years' Daily Telegraph --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; First Edition edition (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158322713X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583227138
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and since then he has written many novels, among them: The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You Mr Rosewater (1964), Welcome to the Monkey House; a collection of short stories (1968), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Slapstick, or Lonesome No More (1976), Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1982), Galapagos (1985), Bluebeard (1988) and Hocus Pocus (1990). During the Second World War he was held prisoner in Germany and was present at the bombing of Dresden, an experience which provided the setting for his most famous work to date, Slaughterhouse Five (1969). He has also published a volume of autobiography entitled Palm Sunday (1981) and a collection of essays and speeches, Fates Worse Than Death (1991).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

428 of 492 people found the following review helpful By David Kleist on September 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reviews like the one below by the 23-year-old who never had read Vonnegut before this current volume remind me of Mr. V.'s statement (I paraphrase, perhaps grotesquely) that the cumulative effect of the Vietnam-war protests and of '60s activism in general was that of a banana-cream pie hurled off a stepladder: here is unquestionably the Greatest of contemporary American novelists, whose work and vision as a whole provide clarity, wisdom, and guidance with humor and love for both the survival of the species and for America--yet he remains largely ignored and neglected by the current American demos, for whom democracy is named, and reviewed by only 24 or so while the latest potboiler gets 345 Amazon reviews the very day it's published.

Certainly Vonnegut himself is well aware of these vagaries of fame and influence.

But let me heartily proclaim the obvious--that we truly should declare Mr. V.'s birthday a new national holiday (strapping it firmly to the one, for some, it already is on 11/11); schoolchildren should compete in Vonnegut Declamation Contests, vying to repeat from memory the longest and most salient passages from his works; we should have Vonnegut Festivals, Seminars, Television sitcoms, toothpaste, bottled water--even a Vonnegut Party in national, state, and local elections, which might well take the place of the corrupt and anemic Democrats.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Ben Mack on September 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you are a humanist, you will probably dig Man Without A Country. I've read the Amazon reviews, and I'm astounded by people who take offense to Vonnegut's humanistic perspective. One reviewer below suggests that A Man Without A Country contains talking points straight from the Democratic National Committee. I checked the DNC website and couldn't identify any lines from Vonnegut's book. So it goes.

Yes, Vonnegut draws connections between Bush and Hitler-they both called themselves Christians despite what many "liberal" documentaries suggest about Hitler being a pagan. But being opposed to Bush doesn't make Kurt a Democrat. Read Kurt's words, HE'S A HUMANIST. For those of you that are anti-humanists, there are plenty of sentences to be taken out of context to exploit towards your own divisive agendas. Vonnegut reminds us of a line by Shakespeare: "The Devil will quote scripture for his purpose."

When did respecting each other become politically divisive? I've often wondered why respecting science is politically divisive. Kurt sheds some light on these topics among others.

Look, if you think the world is all hunky-dory, this won't be your cup of tea. Or, if you dug Vonnegut's earlier work solely for his humor, you may be disappointed with this read. Vonnegut grapples with his grasp on turning out humor, about how other humorists loose their humor as they age. Vonnegut still has his humor, but he is pissed off--many readers haven't known when he has been joking and when he has been serious. For the remedial readers he annotates his jokes by saying, "I'm kidding."

Just because Kurt loves humans, he isn't beyond shaking his finger at those who preach love as they drop bombs and enslave little brown folks.
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163 of 191 people found the following review helpful By Kevin P. Cullen on September 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Kurt finally concludes the half-century journey on which he has taken us with this hilarious, heartfelt, charming epilogue. Vonnegut gives us literary polaroids of his childhood and day-to-day life, places us at the dinner table with Mark Twain, Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, and Eugene Debs, and manages to answer the question: "What does it mean to be human?" All the while single handedly battling George W. Bush, H-Bombs, and the "Guessers."
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58 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Stanley D. Wolfersberger on September 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I came across this book via an unlikely source: John Stewart's interview with Vonnegut on the Daily Show. While I'd heard the name Vonnegut before, I never really knew anything about him or his views, nor his comedic look on certain pressing issues.

At the same time, I found myself (as I dazed in a tired stupor at the boob-tube) wondering why and how this overtly charismatic man, a potential American literary icon, had escaped my knowledge. As I thought more and more, I realized that whether I liked his writings or not, or whether or not I disagreed with him, I needed to read through some of his works -- a sort of "Obligation of the American Soul®" if you will.

And so, as a 23-year old recent college graduate, I ponied up the money and headed to the local Border's shop to pick up the latest (and supposedly final) of his books, A Man Without A Country. I'm not sorry I did.

Vonnegut employs a very readable, conversational style of writing, which lends a sort of friendly "Hey, here's what I think, you go mull it over while I do something else" attitude. While I don't find myself in complete agreeance with everything he says, I believe his general ideas provoke thought and consideration, and his experience and wisdom should not go unnoticed. Any man or woman who has lived to the ripe age of 82 should have some important points to make about life, and one who is as politically charged and sassy as Vonnegut makes several excellent arguments.

I'm not (at this point) familiar with his earlier works, and so I cannot say whether or not he's repeating himself or pulling the same old stunts. What I can say is that if you have a couple hours on hand, you should buy or borrow this book and take a peek through its pages.
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