A Man Without a Country

By Kurt Vonnegut

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
todd hannant
What is there to say? Vonnegut is the funniest and most pointedly accurate novelist working today. The last half-century has been better for his contributions.

This book is spot on all the way through. Read it. Laugh, Cry, realize that he's right, and then cry some more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
natalie mcnee
I have been a devotee of Mr. Vonnegut since my high school days in the late 60s. His wit, his insight, his courage in telling the truth, masking it in humor often, are much to be admired. This book is the epitome - the last written - perhaps the most important. One of the joys of my life is that my son devours Vonnegut. His death saddens me - he would probably find that amusing. Let this be his epitaph "Here lies no C student from Yale".

Read this book. Think. Apply.

Thanks Kurt.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
angelica pavelock
There aren't exactly a lot of pearls of wisdom here. If you're the sort of person that's going to read Vonnegut, you have probably heard yourself or your friends griping about the same stuff lately. But you may like the patented Vonnegut whimsical style of pessimism, and like to hear the way he complains about what's going on in the world. It's a real quick read, so I can't really recommend buying this -- if you haven't read it, spend your money on "Slaughterhouse-5", which alone ensures Vonnegut's place in American lit, instead. A misanthropic humanist? Is there such a thing?
Mostly Harmless (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) :: And Another Thing... (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) :: The Rest of Us Just Live Here :: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Reissue with bonus short story) :: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
gemma collins
I LOVE Kurt Vonnegut. I have read every book multiple times, and listened to audio versions of all I could find. I have seen Slaughterhouse-Five about seventeen times.

However, perhaps he shouldn't have read his own prose. He was entitled to do anything he wanted to at this stage of his career, but I don't have to listen. His voice drove me nuts, and I'm usually a fan of authors reading their own work.

Too bad.

A Man Without a Country
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
orges
Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut, for returning to the lighthouse to help us navigate the dark waters of life. A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY is an obsidian jewel that has been gifted to the world by one of this country's national treasures. It is a definitive indictment of our "leaders" and the moral decay wrought by greed, corporate and private. This being said, I can only recommend this title to those who share a similar definition of truth with the author. If your definition of truth differs from that of Mr. Vonnegut, this work of art will serve, at best, as a source of embarrassment and shame. At worst, it will waste a modicum of your time that you would most likely have wasted anyway. Hi Ho.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brewin brewin
As I read this book I thought to myself, I am one of the human idiots Vonnegut is chastising. I am destroying my planet, I am oblivous to the truth though I know where to find it. I don't shout out "Stop! Enough!" and I know I should.

And still as I read, he was one of us, and I was him, and we were all in it together.

Simply written, yet cutting and precise - he writes like a surgeon removing tumors from a patient long past saving - even if it means that the patient is reduced to less than the sum of it's parts. His essays are satirical, scathing, prickly and right on the money every time... He won't let us ignore the crap. Still, he urges us to notice the little patch of garden we each have in our lives ("If this isn't nice, I don't know what is") At 82 he says he's given up, but we know better. He will never surrender, and neither will I.

God bless Kurt Vonnegut.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jane berg
This book had me laughing and crying! I borrowed a friends copy (ordered my own on the store..but could not wait for it to arrive!) and found this book to be witty, insightful, and sad...sad that so much of what he says is so true. This book is a must read for anyone interested in reading a book that will have you pondering humanity, laughing and yelling throughout the read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ahmad saad
Everybody should have a copy of this book and read it at least once a month. Although if you haven't read any other Vonnegut (which you should: "Slaughterhouse 5" if nothing else, come on!) you probably won't understand what gives Vonnegut authority. This book will make you sad, and puts forth some depressing conclusions, but it is wonderful too.
This review may not be very "helpful," but I had to say it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
casey mitchell
Some may see him as a rabid communist, but there is no question he is extremely bright. It is interesting to see things from KV's perspective. He is like Publishers Weekly says "like Garrison Keillor with a savage undercurrent."
He doesn't beat around the bush and is very critical of the United States being a warlike nation. His quotes are mostly off the wall, but some observations are chillingly on the mark.

He says "The Sermon on the Mount" would not mean much to George Bush or Donald Rumsfeld. Maybe he is right. he draws some very interesting contrasts, contrasts you would not expect many authors to have the courage to draw.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sandra penney
Brillant. Cuts right through the spin to the truth.

The truth is neither one side or another politically. Yes, this is his opining of the truth. He is right on the mark with his usual verve and charm.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tim hennessy
You can almost feel the words Mr. Vonnegut writes in his last work on this earth. He knows he is near the end, and you sense his frustration that maybe he didn't do as much as he could have done. Whatever that "done" is. But we know this isn't really Kurt's last novel. As I write this he is probably having dinner with the Tralfamadorians--drinking and laughing about how stupid the semicolon is.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
vilma
It was a good book, but it wasn't his best. I just saw it as his last words to his readers. As with all KVJ books it was full of lots of harsh wisdom. If more people read and understood KVJ, the better off we would all be.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary willhite
If you feel alone and misunderstood in today's Orwellian world where "war is peace, freedom is slavery [and] ignorance is strength", you'll discover a reassuring and kindred spirit in the late, great Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. His observations may resonate uncomfortably for some but they are refreshing, honest, to the point and spot on! Would that those in power ("They're trashing the planet!") took Mr. Vonnegut's insights to heart.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
robbie lacelle
The first time I heard of Kurt Vonnegut was on the Tonite Show with Jon Stewart - and the man struck an impression - with dry humor and great insight - I picked up this book at the Union Station in a hurry - and I must say it was great - I read through the entire book in about 13 hrs I was on the train - And man was I impressed - Now I have also read Slaughterhouse Five and am on my way to make another KV purchase - undoubtedly a great writer ! I would highly recomend this book just to get a great perspective about life and some of the things happening in the world right now ...... ENJOY !
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jacob clauson
What a refreshing voice to hear once again! Vonnegut possesses the timeless wit, wisdom, soul, eloquence and genius of Mark Twain. He is a voice that must be heard; it comes from all of us (sorry for the semi-colon). What a joy.

In this maddening age of the "dumbing down of America," one can only hope that everyone will partake of this man's wonderful work! There is a little hint of much of his work introduced in these essays -- a great sampling that should make every reader hungry for more!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
silvermist
A conversation with America's greatest writer about the same things everyone in the country had had on their minds that year, this work by the late Kurt Vonnegut was just what I was waiting for and it delivered a kind of comedy and editorial that people all over the country were holding just on the tips of their tongues. Vonnegut is suing PALL MALL cigarettes for keeping him alive in a time when the three most powerful people in the world are named Dick Bush and Colin. He puts himself out there and tells the truth like he always did.

peaCE,

Jacques Paisner, Author of Albuquerque Blues
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
malin
I don't care what anyone says, though this is not his greatest book I believe it forms a charming coda to the work of a delightful writer, and gives us some reason to hope for that most endangered of all species, humanity.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
priyanka mehtani
Living in America, it's very sad to see what America is. Ran by psychopathic personalities who rule overweight, non-thinking herds of soldier fodder.

As Vonnegut says(using semicolon I know): If only the people who cried for the 10 Commandments to be posted instead asked for the Beatitudes of Jesus to be posted.

America, for being so God-fearing, really lacks mercy, meekness, and caring for the poor.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
molly taylor
I read this in one sitting this morning and I will not forget it. Oh, for more 'humanists' in the world, and especially in our country where this man is much more "Christian" than any self-proclaimed christian in the white house.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jules philip hernando
I would not recommend this as the first read for someone who has never read Vonnegut before. My favorite book of all time is his Sirens of Titan. Go buy that right now, and after you love it, buy all the others and finish with this one. No, really. I mean it.

If you already love Vonnegut, this is a welcome return and a great, fast read that is well worth the money. I'd click add to cart... oh, wait, I already did.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
shaina
I have read much of Mr. Vonnegut's work over the years, and one of the things I always admired about him was how practical he was in what he said. He was an avowed socialist, while admitting that socialism has never worked, a professed crank, who saw the best in people, etc. I don't know what happened to that guy, but he was the not the guy who wrote this book.
"A Man without a Country" is so full of bitterness and bile that it clouds over some of the truly remarkable essays in this slim text. The book is formatted as a loosely connected batch of essays, and there are some that are vintage Vonnegut in their style and content. The essays "Here is a lesson in creative writing", and "I have been called a Luddite" being prime examples. They are enjoyable, insightful, and worth rereading and sharing.
But then the book takes a very bitter turn and never comes back from it. It appears that like his literary idol Mark Twain, Vonnegut became very disillusioned and hateful in his late life. What drew me to Vonnegut years ago was a recurring theme that appeared in so many of his works, the idea that we each have a duty to treat others respectfully and with kindness. Vonnegut himself even said in earlier works that "he never wrote heroes or villains". He knew that judgment was best left to others. But this book is hateful towards those whose political or philosophical views differ from Vonnegut. It is like seeing a person that you greatly admired being exposed as a fraud. Vonnegut (in this book, which is nonfiction) is mean spirited, and all of the things he spent so much time earlier in his life begging us all not to be.
Simply put, it makes me sad.
I have now read this text twice, about three years apart, and I won't waste the time (with the exceptions mentioned above) again. It depresses me, and distorts the view of Vonnegut I would rather maintain in my mind. Read his earlier works, especially the lovely "God Bless You Mr. Rosewater" and skip this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer baker
The best glass of champagne at the end of a master's life. This book is the sum total of a life's worth of observation with the realization that "life is tale told by idiots, with bluster and wonderment, signifying nothing". Thank you Dr. Vonnegut.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kate leist
This is a very informal, no-nonsence explanation of many of Vonnegut's personal thoughts on a myriad of ideas and issues. It's a very quick read. It's tough to put down.

If I may use Vonnegut's own words to summarize my thoughts on the book - "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is".
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shirley savage
Vonnegut, who swore he would never write again, has done an excellent job with this book. It's a quick read, and I would recommend having a pen nearby, considering there are countless humorous comments and insightful revelations are copious. He is honest, blunt, and leaves the reader speachless at the end of the book. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is willing to give their brain some exercise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
courtney levy
Kurt Vonnegut a self-decribed socialist has written a thought-provoking, funny memoir...agree with him or disagree with him this book will make you think, laugh and cry and all in all that is a good day.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary j
Wildly, irreverently anti-establishment (when it matters) Vonnegut is a delight to read for his humor and esquisite penetration of hallowed balloons, and he gives cause to reflect on the American social and political scene like few others have. It is hard to imagine that the author was in his 80s when it wrote Man without a Country, so fresh is his insight.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
raheel khan
After reading Mr. Wolfensburger's review, my Vonnegut juices got stirred up.

How is it possible for a person to be "educated" in this country through college and not have even heard of Kurt Vonnegut Jr, much less having never read any of his books? Start off with "Slaughterhouse Five", then "Breakfast of Champions", then any and all of the rest of them.

After you finish Vonnegut, continue with Joseph Heller's "Catch 22", and go on to Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

After these warmups of how this country functions, you can begin your education.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
little mike
I have ordered the book but to date know it only from reviews, excerpts and appearances by Vonnegut himself. It has been toooo long since I (re)read any of Mr Vonnegut's numerous and substantial works.

I second a previous reviewer's sentiments regarding the lack of interest in Vonnegut's works among the younger political demographics. However, I doubt that Vonnegut himself would be an advocate of a National Kurt Vonnegut Day. For me, at least, the salient underlying theme in all of Vonnegut's work is: Draw your own conclusions about the world around you and do so using your heart at least as much as your head.

Though he has been indiscriminately tarred with the same "liberal" label as many other analysts of the human condition, a complete reading of Vonnegut's works, including his non-fiction, reveals that he is an equal opportunity critic. If he seems overly critical of the contemporary political right I suspect that is primarily because they have been running the show for most of the last 30-40 years. For an example of his even-handedness I highly recommend "In a Manner That Must Shame God Himself"--an essay on the 1972 Republican National Convention written for (I believe) Atlantic Monthly-- where he finds little to admire in either the Republican power moguls or the "clowns" (including, among others, the late Abbie Hoffman) demonstrating outside.

It's also be instructive to read his early short stories and try to place them on the current political spectrum. Where, for example would Diana Moon Glampers be most comfortable today?
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
alexis scalese
This is pure venting about our world and how idiotic and hopeless things have become. As always, Vonnegut is entertaining and accurate with the occasional exaggeration and over-the-top analogy. I've always enjoyed reading Vonnegut, but don't know why. I've never felt better about myself or the world I live after reading a Vonnegut book. One word of advice: if you are a depressed person or feel our existence is but a pointless exercise in futility, do not read this book. You will only want to slit your wrists.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
thedendragon
Really dreadful...it's sad that someone like Vonnegut, who wrote some truly brilliant short fiction, could be such a terrible non-fiction essayist. His political views are so simple-minded that they hardly deserve serious discussion...suffice it to say, he thinks Jesus Christ was the greatest moral thinker who ever lived, and we should base our political system on the Sermon on the Mount. As if Aristotle had never lived, and the Renaissance and the Enlightenment had never taken place. Except he actually mentions Aristotle, to whom he refers as "a good guesser"---as against Hitler, who was "a bad guesser" (Vonnegut sees no difference between their epistemological methodologies, or why the "guesses" of Aristotle happened to be rather better than those of Hitler).

Vonnegut says near the end that he might be getting too grumpy to be funny anymore, but this is just ironic false humility, as he clearly still thinks very much of himself indeed...but the real irony is that he was right, he really wasn't funny anymore. Part of the problem is that, like so many old people, he keeps repeating the same stale stories...but he compounds the sin by doing so in print. And, as alluded to above, his views are so poorly conceived and argued that they're not even funny (talk about guessers...projection, anyone?).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ab commendatore
This book is absolutely hilarious! There were parts of it that I shared with all of my family and friends because they made me laugh so hard! At the same time, the book provides a look at Vonnegut's insights into various aspects of the world and human nature, many of which are highly interesting. I would recommend this book to everyone at the high school age or older! All generations will find it interesting and funny!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachel pogson
This book is beautiful. When I tried to quote some parts of it to my friends, I realised that I just wanted to keep reading it out loud, so they could hear everything.

Writing is classical Vonnegut -- simple yet engaging, descriptive enough without being overwhelmingly so, very charming, witty, and true.

I know I'll be recommending this book to everyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
terika brown
If you love Kurt Vonnegut you will love this book. The man still has his talet and his own brand of unique thoughts. This book isn't so much a story as it is more of an exploration into his perspective on things from his life to recient political issues. If you like his books for his ideas and his outlook you will love this book. If you like his books because they are easy to read and have weird characters going through crazy stories, you kinda missed the point.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
scott forbes
Used to read Vonnegut's books as they came out-- got away from it these past few years but picked this one up right away-- the man still has his finger on the pulse-- without a doubt my alltime favorite author, socialist, and one of my favorite human beings.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
albert
I hate to admit I knew little about Kurt Vonnegut before a day ago. I saw him get interviewed on The Daily show and thought he was funny so I decided to check out his book at the bookstore near my house and I read in a couple hours. I thought it was great book, written by a man who has lived a full life. Very funny and insightful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
andrea ward
I'll confess to being a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan. And this is a must read if you love Vonnegut. But it is often not a fun read. Imagine the dark vision of Vonnegut without the offsetting humor. He even alludes to this in one of his entries. Still, there are some very interesting tidbits. But if you are already depressed, you may wish to wait before reading this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nada amin
Kurt Vonnegut is a beast. Easily said, this book, which was somewhat a collaboration of thoughts and quick picks of the mind of one of the greatest writers in America's history, was by far one best books i have read in a minute. Similar in the form of his earlier novel "Breakfast of Champions" Vonnegut shows why he thinks the way he thinks and allows the reader a quick glimpse in the mind of a possible senile geniouse. I really hope he doesn't quit writing or worse yet i hope i dont need to say that Kurt is up in heaven now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
harriet malamut
This was the most thought provoking book that I have read in a long, long time. It is not a political rant, but a questioning of where we are going as a people and the value of the journey. I would recomend it to all but those with their heads burried to the far right.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
angie dobbs
great read that will take almost no time. i wish it was a bit longer, but it's short and sweet. i loved the drawings and tablet type sayings. great one-liners, and beautiful wording. a funny man's book explaining why he needs to laugh at the world. sincere, but humble at the same time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alexander
This book is like a conversation with Kurt Vonnegut. It is not, nor does it attempt to be a heavy piece of literature. It harkens back to a day when people spoke their minds simply and succinctly. Simple talk from a not so simple mind. A fun light read from a much evolved American legacy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennie rains
If you are expecting Vonnegut's great fiction, you will be disappointed. However, this is a great collection of essays from one of America's great writers.

My only complaint is that the book was too short. I closed the book wanting more from this intelligent, literate, thoughtful man!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rickard
This is the first Vonnegut I ever happened to read. I stumbled upon it luckily just before he died. I thought it to be an almost perfect book. A short read, I read it within an hour, and full of humanity and laughter.
Thanks Kurt for having shared your genius with us.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carley
this is probably kurt's softest/kindest novel. i say that because it seemed to lack the usual zingers kurt either doled out to his characters or to society.

i liked his "guessers" theory to describe the way some people behave in today's world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brett ortler
I really enjoyed this book. It's light-hearted but serious at times. Kurt has an interesting perspective on the life he's lived. Since I bought it, my husband and mother-in-law have both read and fallen in love with it. He's a great writer of our time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christian kasperlik
'A Man Without a Country' proves that Brilliant thinkers are still among us... and as K.V. says in this book, you're not going to find them on television. Read this book. Tell a friend. Thank you Kurt Vonnegut!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
neboj a
What do I say about `A Man Without A Country?' I have thought about it for a while, so I guess I'll say a few of things.

Get ready.

First, this is Vonnegut. If he is not the most significant living American novelist, humorist, and moralist, he is definitely on a very short list. Thus, the first thing to remember is this is Vonnegut. That fact automatically vaults `A Man Without A Country,' a collection of essays and opinion laced together under a series of unifying ideas, above just about all of the drivel that is spewed by the big publishing houses and called, "Literature."

Next, if the reader of `A Man Without A Country' has his or her first experience with Vonnegut, get back on the chair from which you have fallen. You may have been shocked into falling off your chair due to the clarity of Vonnegut's truth you have just read. Perhaps, the dry, yet effective humor has split your side and resulted in your tumble. Maybe, you are just terribly sad by the state of world affairs, and you are bawling on hands and knees. Whatever the case, get back up on the chair. Pull yourself together. On the other hand, if you are a voracious reader of Vonnegut, `A Man Without A Country' holds about as much surprise as the meaning of the asterisks, which punctuate his ideas throughout the book.

Okay, I guess there are a FEW new ideas in `A Man Without A Country,' but most of the chapters have been borrowed from the previously existing Vonnegut library. In `A Man Without A Country,' Vonnegut revisits his childhood in Indianapolis, his German heritage, the process that yielded the literary classic `Slaughterhouse Five: A Children's Crusade,' the human need for extended family, Luddites, war, Humanism, Eugene Debs, and more, which he previously addressed, almost verbatim, in other non-fiction books including `Palm Sunday,' `Fates Worse Than Death,' and `Wampeters, Foma, and Granfallons,' as well as in many of his novels. The real difference between the ideas in `A Man Without A Country' and the ideas that previously appeared in other titles is the time and the people to whom he applies them. "The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick, and Colon," laments the author.

New or old Vonnegut reader alike cannot help but be fascinated by his ambiguous references to various contemporary paradigms of "evil." Regarding Nazism, "Adolf Hitler, incidentally...named his party the National Socialists, the Nazis. Hitler's swastika wasn't a pagan symbol, as so many people believe. It was a working person's Christian cross, made of axes and tools." Defending Karl Marx, Vonnegut reveals, "...suppression of religion was supposedly justified by Karl Marx's statement that `religion is the opium of the people.' Marx said that...when opium and opium derivatives were the only effective painkillers anyone could take. Marx himself had taken them. He as grateful for the temporary relief they had given him. He was simply noticing, and surely not condemning, the fact that religion could also be comforting to those in economic or social distress. It was a casual truism, not a dictum." (Can you blame Vonnegut for his ambiguity? Allied forces fire bombed Dresden, a city similar in many ways to, say, for example, Albany, New York. In the process, tens of thousands of people, including women and children whose only crime was their ethnic heritage, were killed. What is right? What is wrong?)

Finally, there are a few ideas and nuggets of information that appear to be un-recycled like, "Swedes have short dicks but long memories," and "the suicide rate among slave owners was much higher than the suicide rate among slaves." Another is "Our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what's really going on."

For anyone (who has reached his 13th birthday), `A Man Without A Country' is very worthwhile. Yes, Vonnegut is a Socialist. Yes, Vonnegut is a Luddite. Yes, Vonnegut is a Humanist. Yes, Vonnegut is an American. Yes, Vonnegut is a lot of things. Yes, Vonnegut's dimensions that make Vonnegut who he is makes his work what it is. Granted, many of the ideas in `A Man Without A Country' have recovered, dusted off, and included from previous works. Granted, there is not much new. Just maybe, however, Vonnegut knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish with this book. Perhaps, like those asterisks that punctuate his ideas both within each chapter, `A Man Without A Country,' itself, is a metaphor. Perhaps, `A Man Without A Country' is the punctuation on the life and the works of a truly amazing man.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
oksana
i promise - anyone with a heart that bleeds for humanity - will fall deeply, deeply in love with vonnegut if they read this book.

vonnegut provides his commentary on all things current regarding issues of global justice. his humor makes the heartache a little more bearable.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
george kemi
I didn't find it as wonderful as the other reviewers, but it's an easy read and passes the time. Vonnegut makes some interesting points and rambles a bit, and it's well-written of course and very Vonnegut. If you like him, you'll like this.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
khadijah
This is the first time I can remember being disappointed by Kurt Vonnegut. A Man without a Country isn't bad, it's just not particularly good. It's far too self indulgent for my liking. A little of the old Vonnegut shines through in places, but not enough to make up for the flat spots.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
christabelle
Vonnegut"s "A Man Without a Country" makes a good point that we now have a government that operates by guessing, that doesn't like knowledge or science. However, his entire book (including this very point) is similarly based on guessing and a total lack of data and facts. We've entered a new world in which you're supposed to throw your education away - both the left and the right operate largely on guessing.

I agree with some of Vonnegut's major points - the U.S. is hated for its arrogance, we should have a national healthcare system, and the planet is being seriously damaged by squandering of fossil fuels. However, his sarcasm without supporting background material wears quickly wears thin.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
connor
I love the guy. His novels in the 70's helped me through the madness known as Viet Nam. So, he's old. He hasn't written much good stuff in 20 years, and this is no exception. But he still has a sense of humor, and I probably won't at his age. So, I hesitate to think there is a generation of readers who think this is "Vonnegut" like material. It isn't. If you love the guy buy it. For the rest of you, Slaughterhouse 5 and Cat's Cradle is where you should go.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mary pascual
The best way to describe this book is more of the same. I saw nothing new or particularly unique in Mr. Vonnegut's newest collection of essays. However, with that being said, this collection was a welcomed treat. I thought we had seen the last of new Vonnegut works. And yet he surprised us with this collection. Although I don't think there is anything new here for the seasoned Vonnegut reader, I highly suggest this book since it once again offers us a glimpse into the world of Kurt Vonnegut.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
marne
Man Without a Country is Vonnegut's late-life rants about random stuff that makes him upset or happy. So, this is what I got from the 100 pages that I read: K.V. likes Mark Twain (me too!), is convinced we are all going to kill off the human population in the next 50 years (I agree that this is possible), thinks that human beings are basically the scum of the Earth, and he doesn't consider himself a "Science Fiction" writer.

Don't get me wrong, he can be funny. Some parts of the book I was like *chuckle* you're totally right! However, the stories don't really relate to one another, so it's more like you're listening to your archaic grandpa talk about the good old days--he keeps interrupting himself with smoking-induce emphysematic coughing and forgetting what he was talking about. And you're like what IS the point?? Oh, that my generation is completely worthless. Gotcha.

Overall it was way to depressing to finish reading. Also Vonnegut's voice is SO pretentious. I felt that way reading two other books by him and I don't think it's going to change. Maybe I'm just biased?
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
breone
Really dreadful...it's sad that someone like Vonnegut, who wrote some truly brilliant short fiction, could be such a terrible non-fiction essayist. His political views are so simple-minded that they hardly deserve serious discussion...suffice it to say, he thinks Jesus Christ was the greatest moral thinker who ever lived, and we should base our political system on the Sermon on the Mount. As if Aristotle had never lived, and the Renaissance and the Enlightenment had never taken place. Except he actually mentions Aristotle, to whom he refers as "a good guesser"---as against Hitler, who was "a bad guesser" (Vonnegut sees no difference between their epistemological methodologies, or why the "guesses" of Aristotle happened to be rather better than those of Hitler).

Vonnegut says near the end that he might be getting too grumpy to be funny anymore, but this is just ironic false humility, as he clearly still thinks very much of himself indeed...but the real irony is that he was right, he really wasn't funny anymore. Part of the problem is that, like so many old people, he keeps repeating the same stale stories...but he compounds the sin by doing so in print. And, as alluded to above, his views are so poorly conceived and argued that they're not even funny (talk about guessers...projection, anyone?).
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
vlada
although his biting pessimism may not be as trollish as it once was, no longer as acerbic and scraping, nevertheless depite having witnessed 82 encroachments of frost and 82 retreats of sargeant cold into the embrace of spring, kurt vonnegut still attacks the antartican compassionateless bogs of the bush administration with sharp claw. he blames us for invading iraq for hideo-malicious reasons (the gratification of our gremlin-addiction to oil) and thus drowning the moral fabric of our nation in rats and feces. his is a dark wit, one that sees sharks and boars in omnia, who looks on the face of man and rather than see michelangelo's fabulous david, he instead sees the rage-whirl of picasso's angst. i sometimes believe his bleak snake-pessimism is too outside convention to be accurate, too dim, too much bunk, too much bison but others might find him a flash-joy and illuminating.

author of Lorelei Pursued and Wrestles with God
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
svenredbeard
i am proud to say that i am the first to review his first in five or six years, after he supposedly claimed not to be writing anymore. they have it at shakepseare & co. in NYC before apparently other major bookstores do. this book is a collection of short stories/memoirs and tales about his life, many of which are pretty funny, with each chapter having its own purple/white drawing. it is not nearly as good as his other fiction, but still worth reading nontheless, if only because it is something new. go out & get it when you can.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
angeline
Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors, and when I saw a new book came out, I of course bought it immediately. While most of his other books are certainly, and in many cases obviously, influenced by his anti-war and socialistic opinions, they are usually wrapped up in a fictional story. This book is rather simply a review of his opinions, taken to the much more bitter level of old age:

"There is no reason to ever go to war."

"Everything we do is harming the environment and it will be gone very soon."

"Gas and uranium and the free market should be outlawed because they're making us all poor and dead."

Thrown in for good measure is prose advertisement for his screen prints and possible next novel (working title:) _If God Were Alive Today_, which I would certainly buy, because it's Vonnegut, and his fiction, which I find much more enjoyable than his collections of essays that retread the same ground.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
ansley howard
This book is a bit of a disappointment. I had anticipated a greater effort on the author's part. He seems to be camping through much of it, and I had the impression it was published only because he needed a little cash flow.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
beverly
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."
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
deema
The Genius has left the building.

Vonnegut doesn't like the government, he witnessed the fire bombing of Dresden, and young people don't live up to his expectations...No Kidding! He has been telling us the same thing over and over for 20 years. This is no great Twain-like humorist writing here, just a complaining old curmudgeon. Gone is the genius that blew us away in his earlier stuff. Not a trace of narrative quality here...just another re-hash of his last few diatribes.

If you seek to discover this great writer's genius, please find a copy of Player Piano, Cat's Cradle, Mother Night, The Sirens of Titan, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater or other works from the 20th Century that marked Vonnegut as one of the best and most original literary voices our country ever produced...Please don't form your opinion on this very, very minor and un-original tome that is not even a shadow of his former writing.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
shrutiranjan
I love Kurt Vonnegut novels. Bluebeard, Slaughter House Five, Mother Night and Player Piano are my favorites and I have enjoyed many others. I have collected almost all of them, so when this novel came out I bought it, excited, and read it the same day. This is not a novel. Not really a story. Just rambling editorials about current events, sometimes incorrect, with some chapters that contain the same phrases and ideas. Not in a recurring theme way as much as a literary legend being beyond criticism and helpful editing way. "God Bless you Dr. Kevorkian" was similar style novel, but clever and well written. I honestly place this novel below "Galapagos" and the screen play for "Happy Birthday Wanda June", both of which I still own. I left this new novel in the hotel where I was staying even though I collect his novels because it did not do him justice. If you are new to Vonnegut I recommend you read at least two of the novels I listed above as my favorites before you read this novel. If you are a fan like me, you know you have to read it but you also have to be honest. Compared to other novels in his body of work, it is one of the worst.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
emily grandstaff
The read was very good, I disagreed with him on many parts; for one he doesn't like globalization (which should be his biggest tool), and he didn't do his research on global warming (we're below our average temp for the last 3k years, and more co2 is good).

It's no Monkey House, but it's good.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
cherylynn
My ex-husband was a great fan of Vonnegut's and, although I never developed a taste for KV's work, I was able to acknowledge his abilities. Must have been feeling nostalgic the day I purchased his memoir!! It took me all of two evenings of bedtime reading to finish this book. Really, the book's prime selling point is that it was written by KV. I am willing to bet that any other (unknown) old man would not have gotten past the publisher's front door with this stuff. There ARE a few laugh out-loud remarks but they are no funnier or more memorable than the sallies you heard from your grandpa during Thanksgiving dinner. In a very poignant section, KV alludes to a novel he is trying to finish and provides an excerpt. Dreadful - no apparent literary merit. Similarly poignant are some sections of letters received by the author asking him questions such as "should I have a baby" and "tell me everything is going to be okay". These are beyond absurd. After finishing the book (which I felt compelled to do, having shelled out for it), I wondered if KV needed the money.........or, if he just wanted to stand in the warmth of the limelight one more time.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
matt aden
You know Ann Coulter's book, I don't know, 'Talking to Liberals . . .' or something like that, got bombed because it was a series of essays. And Vonnegut gets lauded for . . . . a series of essays. Hmmmmm.

I admire the novels of Kurt Vonnegut. No. I'm misleading you. I think they are fantastic. Brilliant. He's always been a favorite of millions. IT'S WHAT HE DOES BEST.

But remember that book by Stephen Boccho? It was brutal. See Dick Run. See Dick slash Jane. See Detective 'Bent Cop' murder dick. Why don't people stick to what they do best? The man is, however, one of the greatest screenwriters ever.

I mean this has always bothered me. Why do Rock 'n Roll "stars" want to make speeches on saving squirrels. Yeah. Does anyone ever take the time to tell these folks that fame doesn't equate to insight. I know. This is the kind of review where you get no votes for 'did this review help you?' and 112 for 'NO.'

But seriously. How can you live with yourself when you posit the belief that the WWII bomber pilots were murderers and the muslim self-detonating suicide bombers are heroes? The Bomber crews of which nearly 100,000 died STOPPED THE DEATHS OF AN ADDITIONAL 50 MILLION PEOPLE!

So, I gave it three stars because it is Kurt Vonnegut. George doesn't speak well. And if you want to deport Karl Rove, cool. Maybe he deserves to be deported. But vicious assaults under the guise of 'free speech' and fame is in poor taste. I did not find it funny and satirical and witty and critical and fair. I found it nasty. 3 stars. Larry Scantlebury
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
hisham zain
In the opening of this book Vonnegut states that he was not planning on writing another book; he should have stuck with that plan. A Man Without a Country is left winged bitterness without humor - sorry I wasted a spot on my Christmas wish list for this book.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
consult
As a long-time fan of Vonnegut's writing, I was deeply disappointed and embarassed for Vonnegut. Imagine your grandfather getting drunk at your wedding and then trying to give a toast featuring a dirty joke. Vonnegut is just is no longer funny. Sadly, he has lost his wit and the genius of his early novels.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
quinn
A man without a country is written by an 84 year old man who grew up in the American midwest Depression. He sounds like democratic, as in political ad. He faults George Bush for hating Arabs because they invented algebra. This attempt at humour or satire still obviates the fact that Arabs(fundamental moslems) killed innocents. While admitting he does not believe in heaven or hell, Bush and the country are faced with religious fanactics for the next who knows many years. He considers the Kennedy family a wonderful extended family, but the Bush family somehow a failure. I find him interesting in that he is not a lit major, but a scientist. A man who has not grown up on drugs, a father of 8, but still ignores the big picture. He finds anyone who invented our standards of living should be faulted. As a scientist, he should know that this country has never had a "nuclear" incident, yet does not consider nuclear power as an alternative to petro. His "humour" covers his weakness in his arguments. He hates this country. He critizes "highly educated people, except those who have invented or followed failed political or social engineering.

Even the NYT, Washington Post and other "liberal" groups determined that Bush did win the 1980 election. He honestly believes Gore won because the blacks were disfranchised. He claims Bush and Hitler were Christians. This statement is typical of his views. Is he trying to be satirical.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
orisunayomide
I wanted to discover the exaulted Kurt Vonnegut and his reported mastery of prose. Instead, what I found in "A Man Without a Country" is not an articulate presentation of his views, but a ceaseless attack on political viewpoints opposite his own. My first impression of Vonnegut is a bitter old man lashing out. This book was a waste of time, thankfully only the non-fiction equivalent of a novella.
I will try to read his earlier works with an open mind and not let "A Man Without a Country" sway my judgement of his creative ability. In this work it was too well concealed behind his negative advertising campaign against the Republican Party.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
joanne michael
At 51 and a strong libertarian/conservative, I was very much excited to see another Vonnegut book. (I too was once a liberal idealist in my youth)... I used to worship this man in the 70's and early 80's, and even thought his last book of fiction was wonderful (Timequake, 1998). I cried like a baby at the end of Timequake when I read the line where he talks about his older brother dying and that he "didn't have anyone to show off for anymore". It broke my heart. Timequake would have been a wonderful swan song, instead we get this collection of vitriolic Bush-bashing. So sad. How can a man of this genius truly believe Bush invaded Iraq for oil, when the truth is probably closer to the fact that Suddam was threatening to sell oil on the euro not the dollar, which would have plunged the US into a major depression... (a thin distinction I admit ;-) )... anyway....

Some of the book was a treat, even worth the money, while other parts have convinced me that the precious Vonnegut Idealism has been replaced with the daily fax from the democrat campaign Talking Points. Idealism is something we should never lose, and it seems Vonnegut has done just that.

Those looking for support for their own vitriol against Bush & Co. will find much to like in this collection of essays, but if you are looking for some of that old Vonnegut humor sliced with some tongue-in-cheek zings aimed at the decedent societies Vonnegut loves to skewer, it isn't here. If you have any conservative or libertarian values at all this book is one to avoid.

I'm hoping beyond hope he can manage one last book of fiction before he leaves this planet, a proper swan song, since this collection would certainly mare his otherwise brilliant career.

(Andrew R Manzione, born 2-14-1983, your dad is looking for you, that would be me. Please contact me.)
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
carissa
Please stop witing mr. Vonnegut, your are an embarassment. You make Green Peace look right wing. This is a book against free market, oil, Heaven and common sense.

He says on page 129 'I used to be funny, and perhaps I'm not anymore. you are so right Mr. Vonnegut, You are not funny but you are scary.

At one point in the book he trys to make a point about the Germans doing more for this country then the English, OK, need I say more.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
karianne
This quote came to mind as I was reading this book: "What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."-Principal, Billy Madison
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
mandy benanav
Not having read any of Vonnegut's work for 30 years, I opened A Man Without a Country and remembered why I'd SO assiduously avoided him. As a natural conservative I much enjoy the thrust and parry of lively political debate. But KV, like almost every socialist I've ever met, doesn't do debate, preferring mockery, innuendo, myth and wilfully distorted facts. It's the superior sneer of the self-styled intellectual who doesn't know what he's talking about. His unwavering belief in doctrinal socialism brings to mind a line from Emerson: "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

His defence of Marx, beginning with religion being the opium rather than the opiate of the masses demonstrates his willingness to distort language. That he then manages to blend the benefits of Marxist ideology with the evils of slavery left me moderately bemused. (The American Indian, who cause he champions, was something of a proto-Marxist and quite happily used slaves.) His obsession with slavery and the inference that the United States was uniquely guilty of it is symptomatic of historical revisionism at its most banal. Slavery is a millennia-old, worldwide phenomenon, with a reasonable chance that most of us have distant ancestors who suffered it. But during the period he's most exercised about villainous white slavers didn't mount raids into the interior of Africa, they purchased stock from coastal chieftains who enjoyed vast profits from the sale of fellow Africans. And who, after parliament made not just the trade but the ownership of slaves illegal in Britain, wrote letters of howling protest to the crown that the new law was going to ruin them. Just as Vonnegut ignores the complicity of Africans in the trade, he also omits that it was white European stock that lobbied against and eventually outlawed what had existed in Africa long before the arrival of the first Portuguese explorers, and continued long after it was banned by European and North American governments (or that it still exists amongst the Arabs and West Africans today). Unsurprisingly, he overlooks the enslavement of over a million white Europeans by Barbary corsairs between 1500 and the mid-1800s. Spain and the Italian city states suffered the greatest depredations, but the North African raiders seized thousands of Irish, Cornish and Welsh and not an insignificant number of colonial American seamen. (See Christian slaves, Muslim Masters, Robert Davis, Palgrave MacMillan, 2003)

Vonnegut decries the "135,000" deaths in the bombing of Dresden, deliberately ignoring that German academics now put the figure at closer to 30,000. Which is bad enough, but ol' Kurt not only prefers the discredited number, but makes no mention of the 60,000 British civilians killed between 1940 and 1945 by German bombs, V1s and V2s.

His horror over the deaths of some 200,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki doesn't include the 300,000 deaths in Nanking to Japanese bullet, bayonet, gang rape, and burning or burying alive, or the three million Chinese who died during the invasion and occupation of their country by Imperial troops. Or that Allied soldiers, PoWs, and enslaved Asian labourers were dying at the hands of the Japanese right up to the day after that big flash over Nagasaki. Balance is not one of Kurt's strengths.

Comparing Americans with Nazis ("And with good reason.") is simply fatuous. Not even the most virulently anti-Bush liberal leftie hyperventilates at the prospect of the USA invading Luxembourg or Andorra.

"Our president is a Christian?" Kurt asks. "So was Adolf Hitler." In fact, Hitler had the same disdain for religion as Marx had. The future Greater Germany was to be religion-free.

His many references to the evil of oil might have at least a hint of resonance if I knew this great sage hasn't driven a car, used the subway, boarded a commercial flight, or used an electrical appliance that wasn't powered by his own wind-driven generator in the last 30 years.

And then...oh hell, there are so many more examples of the woe-is-me-a-lone-voice-in-the-wilderness-that-knows-how-evil-America is. Vonnegut belongs to that genre of Western self-loathers who have benefited enormously from the capitalist system they hate. You'd think he might have considered settling in Sweden. Maybe he was put off by the socialist tax rate he'd have to pay.
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