The Eagle’s Cry Retro Review – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut


Dresden, Germany. An estimated 135,000 casualties, Billy Pilgrim, Kurt Vonnegut, and a failed-to-be-taught, tragedy-ridden massacre of a bombing during World War II.

Is was a day more deadly than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…combined. And it’s known only to those who were there, those who knew somebody who was there, and those who’ve read the satirical science-fiction novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

A profoundly composed piece of literature, Vonnegut takes readers on a journey through space and time, history and reality, time travel and World War II, and everything you’ve never learned in school that truly hexed the Earth in the most deadly of manners. 

Slaughterhouse-Five tells the story of the “classified” bombing of Dresden, Germany by joint forces of the British and American air forces who coined the massacre as a success. Vonnegut uses Billy Pilgrim—a fictitious veteran of WWII, survivor of the Dresden bombing, and alien abduction survivor—to tell the tragically untold truth of the bombing. 

By taking a science-fiction approach to the telling of his truth, Vonnegut provides some much needed perspective in beginning his novel with a direct acknowledgment of the reader, the tale he fabricated, and that there is truth and personal experience that lies through the stories. 

Brief moments throughout the novel, where Vonnegut places himself in the story and the setting, serve as a reminder to the audience that this war story isn’t entirely made up. While paradoxical Billy Pilgrim may have never graced the Earth, Kurt Vonnegut really did serve in WWII and really did survive the massacre bombing of Dresden. 

History is bound to repeat itself if we choose to ignore our mistakes of the past. As ugly as it is to admit, America wasn’t always the hero, and it’s just as important to learn from our success stories as it is to remember our failures.