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What a kick in the guts As many have already pointed out, this should be a required reading for all those who sit in their nice sunny offices and send other people s kids to war I ve discovered Trumbo very late, but fortunately not too late. I simply have to read this book It, including its author, has been cussed by Ann Coulter on her latest blog post That is recommendation enough for me Devastating read Review coming Detailed ReviewThis must be the most disturbing war novel that I have read if not the most disturbing novel EVER The reader is forced by the author to spend the whole length of time he reads this book inside the head of his protagonist Why Because the protagonist is an injured soldier, who has lost his legs, his arms, and the whole of his face He can t speak, see, hear, taste, or smell the only sense organ left is the skin on his diminished torso But unfortunately, his brain is very much alive, trapped in this vegetable of a body And that is where we the readers are, too, for the duration of the narrative He had no arms and no legs.He threw back his head and started to yell from fright But he only started because he had no mouth to yell with He was so surprised at not yelling when he tried that he began to work his jaws like a man who has found something interesting and wants to test it He was so sure the idea of no mouth was a dream that he could investigate it calmly He tried to work his jaws and he had no jaws He tried to run his tongue around the inside of his teeth and over the roof of his mouth as if he were chasing a raspberry seed But he didn t have any tongue and he hadn t any teeth There was no roof to his mouth and there was no mouth He tried to swallow but he couldn t because he had no palate and there weren t any muscles left to swallow with. This nightmare is compounded by the fact that he is very much alive he is Joe Bonham, twenty years of age, son of a loving mother and father and who has two younger sisters and the love of his life Kareen waiting for him but that is only in his mind For the staff of the hospital he is a nameless patient, a disgusting freak which is just a caved out head stuck on a limbless body Worst of all it is a life sentence He would be in this womb forever and ever and ever He must remember that He must never expect or hope for anything different This was his life from now on every day and every hour and every minute of it He would never again be able to say hello how are you I love you He would never again be able to hear music or the whisper of the wind through trees or the chuckle of running water He would never again breathe in the smell of a steak frying in his mother s kitchen or the dampness of spring in the air or the wonderful fragrance of sagebrush carried on the wind across a wide open plain He would never again be able to see the faces of people who made you glad just to look at them of people like Kareen He would never again be able to see sunlight or the stars or the little grasses that grow on a Colorado hillside. Lying on his back with only memories for company, Joe almost goes mad until he finds a way to keep track of time based on the daily cycle of the nurses and finally, to communicate But even that is doomed to end in disappointment, as the author is determined that we shall not escape This novel is brilliantly written Trumbo uses the stream of consciousness technique, with less punctuation and capitalisation than is warranted, and the reader is plunged into a world of tortuous sentences that run on and on, interspersed with short staccato ones and also beautiful passages tinged with nostalgia the narrative structure captures the internal world of the doomed protagonist beautifully The memories are poignant, funny and melancholic in turn one feels that if this was a movie, it will be done in muted sepia tones Then there are those sudden shifts to the terror of the nowGoodbye Joe Goodbye Kareen Joe dear darling Joe hold me closer Drop your bag and put both of your arms around me and hold me tightly Put both of your arms around me Both of them You in both of my arms Kareen goodbye Both of my arms Kareen in my arms Both of them Arms arms arms arms I m fainting in and out all the time Kareen and I m not catching on quick You are in my arms Kareen You in both of my arms Both of my arms Both of them BothI haven t got any arms Kareen.My arms are gone.Both of my arms are gone Kareen both of them.They re gone.Kareen Kareen Kareen.They ve cut my arms off both of my arms.Oh Jesus mother god Kareen they ve cut off both of them.Oh Jesus mother god Kareen Kareen Kareen my arms. This is most definitely an anti war novel, a novel written with a purpose and so sometimes, does slip into outright sloganeering But since it s done by Joe in his mind, it does not take away from the strength of the narrative and the author does get his point across So did all those kids die thinking of democracy and freedom and liberty and honor and the safety of the home and the stars and stripes forever You re goddam right they didn t.They died crying in their minds like little babies They forgot the thing they were fighting for the things they were dying for They thought about things a man can understand They died yearning for the face of a friend They died whimpering for the voice of a mother a father a wife a child They died with their hearts, sick for one look at the place where they were born please god just one look They died moaning and sighing for life They knew what was important They knew that life was everything and they died with screams and sobs They died with only one thought in their minds and that was I want to live I want to live I want to live.There s nothing noble about dying Not even if you die for honor Not even if you die the greatest hero the world ever saw Not even if you re so great your name will never be forgotten and who s that great The most important thing is your life little guys You re worth nothing dead except for speeches Don t let them kid you any Pay no attention when they tap you on the shoulder and say come along we ve got to fight for liberty or whatever their word is there s always a word. Honour, Patriotism, Liberty, Chivalry all fine words, thundered by world leaders across the globe from pulpits to the deafening cheers of their followers And what does it bring the little guy , the soldier at the front Nothing but death and misery There is no honour in war, in killing and getting killed.Trumbo ends the novel with a warning We are men of peace we are men who work and we want no quarrel But if you destroy our peace if you take away our work if you try to range us one against the other we will know what to do If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ we will make it so We will use the guns you force upon us we will use them to defend our very lives and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a nomansland that was set apart without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and now we have seen it and we know it.Put the guns into our hands and we will use them Give us the slogans and we will turn them into realities Sing the battle hymns and we will take them up where you left off Not one not ten not ten thousand not a million not ten millions not a hundred millions but a billion two billions of us all the people of the world we will have the slogans and we will have the hymns and we will have the guns and we will use them and we will live Make no mistake of it we will live We will be alive and we will walk and talk and eat and sing and laugh and feel and love and bear our children in tranquillity in security in decency in peace You plan the wars you masters of men plan the wars and point the way and we will point the gun. There is no doubt where the guns will be ultimately pointed No wonder it pissed off many people Dalton Trumbo was a victim of McCarthyism, a name in the original Hollywood Blacklist generated as part of the Red Scare in the USA His career was effectively destroyed Reading this novel, it is easy to see how his humanist ideas would have been anathema to the powers that be.A must read if you can stomach it. Manufacturing TasteThe story of this story is probably its most interesting part The idea for it started as a Canadian news article recounting a royal visit to a Canadian quadriplegic soldier who had been injured in World War I Twenty years later Trumbo turned this idea into a book about an American soldier that included much autobiographical material Seventy five years after that, Larry Brown in his Dirty War of 2012 transformed it yet again into a hospital dialogue between two veterans of the war in Viet Nam The progression from fact to rapportage, to interpreted story, to re interpreted story is fascinating.Equally fascinating is the political fate of both the book and its author, one of the most highly paid screenwriters of the day Both were attacked by the political Left in the United States in the late 1930 s for pacifist propaganda The Far Right wrote fan mail After World War II, book and author were again attacked as pacifist but then by the political Right Trumbo was summoned by the House UnAmerican Acitivities Committee of Senator Joseph McCarthy but he refused to testify He was consequently blacklisted in the Hollywood film industry but managed to write two Academy Award winning scripts under pseudonyms.By the time of the Vietnamese war, Trumbo had been rehabilitated In 1971 he wrote and directed a decidedly anti war film version of the book In 2003 Trumbo s son, Christopher made a film, Red, White, and Blacklisted, about the book and its consequences for Dalton A comprehensive biographical film was released in 2015 which uses the book as its focal point Certainly the whims and vagaries of official taste in the Stalinist Soviet Union were at least rivalled by the shifting mass opinion manufactured in the American political system.There is no doubt about Trumbo s talent as a writer Johnny won a National Book Award as the most original work of fiction in 1939 But without its political notoriety it most probably would have remained merely a good work of its day Today it s main value is as a sort of repository of American cultural themes of the inter war period optimistic youth, economic depression, exploitation of immigrants, West Coast cosmopolitanism, and a deep nostalgia for life before 1914 Of course the book still serves as a warning to those who conceive of war as something that a country turns on and off as if it were a handy appliance, or those who believe that the real enemy of every infantry soldier is something other than the rats and his officers and, eventually, even his doctors But so much has been written since, with so much graphic detail of the personal and national consequences of combat, that Johnny seems little now than a tame historical relic which has to teach about aesthetics in a democracy than pacifism. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo 1905 1976 Johnny Got His Gun is a novel written in 1938 by American novelist and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and published September 1939 by J B Lippincott The novel is commonly viewed as one that promotes anti war ideals, but when read deeper, it can be seen that Trumbo s opinions of war shed light on humanity as a whole, and not just on the horrible aspects of war The novel won one of the early National Book Awards the Most Original Book of 1939.Joe Bonham, a young American soldier serving in World War I, awakens in a hospital bed after being caught in the blast of an exploding artillery shell He gradually realizes that he has lost his arms, legs, and all of his face including his eyes, ears, teeth, and tongue , but that his mind functions perfectly, leaving him a prisoner in his own body 2014 1392 241 9786006662169 20 1939 What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs in the water Bob.What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs on a porch Matt.What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs on skis Skip.What do you call a novel about a guy who has no arms and no legs because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time Johnny Got His Gun This works best as a character sketch As poor Jon Bonham s consciousness recalls the events of his childhood, he simultaneously realizes he has missing appendages and a missing face And when the two threads meet, we are put in his mind alongside him He is an inert trunk tucked away in a hospital because a German shell blew him apart in the horrifying attrition of WWI It s like epiphenomenalism in reverse with a double shot of God is Dead What I have difficulty with is 1 his sophistication He seems quite exceptional for Dalton s purpose of representing an average American Doughboy Did your typical twenty something male have a knowledge of Carthaginian history back then 2 his sanity He goes insane at the end, but could someone in complete isolation keep it together for several years I doubt it And my mom always told me that I m exceptional, so there 3 the dissolution into didacticism The final few pages are a screed on par with Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator The difference is, I buy Charlie s speech because he s knee deep in satire and it s not as jarring when he steps out of that satire Maybe this is unfair, but Trumbo s effort is affected and, dare I say, as unnatural as the devices that conspire to keep his protagonist s body alive while neglecting his mind Maybe Trumbo believes he has captured the reader to the extent that he can preach to him her I guess most people coming to the novel are looking to be preached at I was not 4 it won t convince today s youth about the horrors of war because they ve been inured to such things with their Xbox 360s Besides, Bonham is eventually able to communicate with hospital staff through Morse Code Unless salvation can be texted, kids these days aren t interested.All the same, war can suck it.And somebody give these hippies a haircut. This novel about an American soldier who was severely wounded while fighting in World War I was so disturbing it took me several tries to get through it.The novel is told in a stream of consciousness, with soldier Joe drifting in and out of memories of his parents, of girlfriends, of innocent days He slowly realizes that he has no arms, no legs and no face, and his cries are gut wrenching I listened to this book on audio, and the performance by William Dufris was so affecting that I had to take breaks from the book I m glad I came back to it and kept going, because this is a moving story about how much soldiers can suffer.I was inspired to read Johnny Got His Gun after it was mentioned in Ann Hood s bookish memoir Morningstar She wrote an essay about how she had first read Dalton Trumbo s book while growing up during the Vietnam war, and how meaningful it had been Now I ve read it while the United States is preparing to send troops to Afghanistan, and I also found it to be a powerful experience.This is a challenging and thought provoking book, and I would recommend it to readers who appreciate anti war novels.Note on StyleOne last note is that while I did listen to this novel, I also got a print copy to flip through and mark quotes Trumbo used little punctuation for Joe s rambling thoughts the writing style reminded me of Kerouac s On the Road, except Trumbo did it in 1939, nearly 20 years before Jack s famous Beat novel I think the audiobook performance made it easier to read and appreciate Johnny Got His Gun. If you ve tried to read this book before and struggled with the run on sentences, I recommend trying the audio Meaningful Passages This was no war for you This thing wasn t any of your business What do you care about making the world safe for democracy All you wanted to do Joe was to live You were born and raised in the good healthy country of Colorado and you had no to do with Germany or England or France or even with Washington D.C than you had to do with the man on the moon Yet here you are and it was none of your affair Here you are Joe and you re hurt worse than you think You re hurt bad Maybe it would be a lot better if you were dead and buried on the hill across the river from Shale City Maybe there are things wrong with you than you suspect Joe Oh why the hell did you ever get into this mess anyhow Because it wasn t your fight Joe You never really knew what the fight was all about There s nothing noble about dying Not even if you die for honor Not even if you die the greatest hero the world ever saw Not even if you re so great your name will never be forgotten and who s that great The most important thing is your life little guys You re worth nothing dead except for speeches Don t let them kid you any Pay no attention when they tap you on the shoulder and say come along we ve got to fight for liberty or whatever their word is there s always a word Just say mister I m sorry I got no time to die I m too busy and then turn and run like hell If they say coward why don t pay attention because it s your job to live not to die If they talk about dying for principles that are bigger than life you say mister you re a liar Nothing is bigger than life There s nothing noble in death What s noble about lying in the ground and rotting What s noble about never seeing the sunshine again What s noble about having your legs and arms blown off What s noble about being an idiot What s noble about being blind and deaf and dumb What s noble about being dead Because when you re dead mister it s all over It s the end You re less than a dog less than a rat less than a bee or an ant less than a little white maggot crawling around on a dungheap You re dead mister and you died for nothing We are men of peace we are men who work and we want no quarrel But if you destroy our peace if you take away our work if you try to range us one against the other we will know what to do If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ we will make it so We will use the guns you force upon us we will use them to defend our very lives and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a nomansland that was set apart without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and now we have seen it and we know it. Every time I read a book, I feel committed to it as if to a relationship That relationship can be an infatuational fling, a carnal attraction, a passionate love, a committed best friend, a life partnerwhatever form it takes will depend on how much I will remember it Johnny Got His Gun got completely under my skin.I was finishing the last page on an airplane and an 80 year old yoga teacher looked at me and quietly summed up this book I remember reading that It blew my mind She had read it in 1965 I have always considered myself a political pacifist I realized this is because I shelter, absolutely shelter myself from the horrifics of war and violence I have always chosen to live in the dark because I KNEW the rage would overtake me if I chose to care Well, Trumbo sure as hell got me to care Even if this never changes the fact that I don t votethis absolutely got me to give a damn and know why I hate war.I would have made my students read this when I was teaching if I had known about it.If you don t read anything this year read this.This book is like my first love It will appear to me in my sleep It will haunt my mind forever It will be the year 2058, and I will see a young girl reading this on a airplane and be launched into delicious nostalgia. Qu mal me sabe otorgarle a este libro solo tres estrellas Y no solo por el tema antibelicista, del que estaba previamente m s que convencido, aunque con ciertas objeciones en relaci n a la posici n concreta que aqu se adopta, sino fundamentalmente por el propio autor al que admiro por su trabajo cinematogr fico y, sobre todo, por la actitud que mantuvo durante toda su vida y, concretamente, durante aquellos horribles y vergonzosos a os de la caza de brujas que emprendi el Comit de Actividades Antiamericanas HUAC Quiz s saber de antemano la situaci n de su protagonista qui n no ha visto la pel cula u o do hablar de ella o del propio libro , un hecho que en la novela se nos va desvelando poco a poco y en un principio bajo la duda que nos ofrece un narrador poco fiable, me rest algo de su atractivo Puede ser, aunque tambi n es cierto que este conocimiento dot a los primeros momentos de la narraci n, posiblemente los m s flojos de la obra, de una fuerza de la que carec a Una fuerza que el autor s supo conferir a muchos otros momentos de la novela pero que tambi n sent decaer en cada uno de los flashback sobre la vida que el protagonista vivi antes de la guerra en un id lico pueblo de Colorado, muy a lo Norman Rockwell, y que el autor contrapone al horror que vive el protagonista y que en mi opini n no necesitaba de un contraste tan facil n Aunque lo m s probable es que todo esto no tenga la menor importancia y que todo se deba a que estoy echado a perder y que esta literatura directa, de tan f cil lectura y tan di fano mensaje no consigue ya conmoverme. A scathing anti war novel, in which the main character is one of the profoundly, hopelessly wounded, the human wrecks of war It is told in the first person, by the voice of a person now voiceless, trapped in his mutilated body, confined to his hospital bed, and as this person virtually unable to communicate communicates with the reader, telling us his story we come to realize the true cost and futility of war.This is an angry, honest book Thoroughly memorable. ^Read ☞ Johnny Got His Gun ⇯ The Searing Portrayal Of War That Has Stunned And Galvanized Generations Of ReadersAn Immediate Bestseller Upon Its Original Publication In , Dalton Trumbo S Stark, Profoundly Troubling Masterpiece About The Horrors Of World War I Brilliantly Crystallized The Uncompromising Brutality Of War And Became The Most Influential Protest Novel Of The Vietnam Era With A Compelling New Foreword By Fellow Award Winning Writer E L Doctorow, Johnny Got His Gun Is An Undisputed Classic Of Antiwar Literature That S As Timely As Ever A Terrifying Book, Of An Extraordinary Emotional Intensity The Washington Post Powerful An Eye Opener Michael Moore Mr Trumbo Sets This Story Down Almost Without Pause Or Punctuation And With A Fury Amounting To Eloquence The New York Times A Book That Can Never Be Forgotten By Anyone Who Reads It Saturday Review