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Best known now by the 1996 Nick Nolte film of the same title, Mother Night (1961) is a dazzling narrative of false, shifting identity. The story tells of the odyssey of Howard Campbell, Jr., the book’s protagonist, and is a paradigm of shifting loyalties, ambiguous commitment, and tales of personal compromise. Campbell is an American emigre in Germany at the time of Hitler’s ascension; he is married to a German, his relations with the Nazi regime are excellent, and he agrees to spy for them and to become a broadcaster for the regime; but then, increasingly disaffected, Campbell becomes a double agent, then perhaps a triple agent, sending coded messages to the Allies.

After the War, he is tried for war crimes but is exonerated. The novel is written in memoir format from the point of view of the exiled Campbell, who, indifferent to outcome, plots suicide.

Here is a moral tale without a moral, or perhaps, according to Vonnegut, a tale with several morals. Vonnegut, a science fiction writer in his early career, knew the science fiction community very well, and it is more or less accepted that the conflicted and indecipherable Howard Campbell is modeled upon John W. Campbell, Jr. (1910-1971), the great editor of Astounding and Analog whose decades long rightward drift led him to endorse George Wallace in 1968.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut’s audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut’s work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut’s work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut’s reputation (like Mark Twain’s) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut’s World War II POW experience) and Cat’s Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut’s work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut’s work as well as newcomers.

Topics: Germany, 1940s, Metafiction, Black Humor, Dark, World War II, Nazis, War, Spies, Morality, Antihero, Made into a Movie, Adolf Hitler, Postmodern, Unreliable Narrator, and 20th Century

Published: RosettaBooks on
ISBN: 9780795319044
List price: $8.99
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A great read. Very well written with lots to ponder. more
Dark and biting, with the blackest of humor. Vonnegut is one of the very few humorists out there who leaves you sadder than when you started. But I mean that as a compliment. He's one of the best.

Words fail me. He really as is great as people say.
more
This is a bit of a deviation from the outright funny Vonnegut books I've read so far. It's still satirical, still has moments of dark humor but it's toned down considerably.

It's a very thought provoking look at the lies people tell themselves and each other so they can justify their actions or lack thereof. And we're given this look through the eyes of a character who tells himself fewer lies than usual.

One of my favorite passages is talking both about how to avoid war and how to incite one.

"What can any one person do?" he said.
"Each person does a little something," I said, "and there you are."
more
One of my favorite books of all-time, and probably my favorite Vonnegut creation. I haven't read them all yet, but I think I like this one the best of those I have read.more
I've read nearly all Vonnegut's works, and this one is an unequivocal 5-star masterpiece to stand amongst his other greats. This book in particular almost seems to be the wisest, most world-weary of his efforts, a deeply personal story that superbly explores the themes or morality, identity, justice and even love, yet with a much more subdued but still enjoyable splattering of the writer's trademark wit. Even the way the story unfolds in its non-linear pseudo memoir reveals a more advanced and perfected style, that sublimely allows the tale be told in the most engaging and suspenseful manner. This is a very great book.more
Kurt Vonnegut rejects suspense. I'm okay with that. His books are good practice for being an old man resigned to the insignificance of one human life on a grand scale and the insignificance of all else on a local scale. I'm okay with that, too.more
My campaign to re-read (or, in some cases, read) the Vonnegut canon started out pretty lamely. Luckily, MOTHER NIGHT turned out to be every bit as good as I had remembered it being. A quirky and ironic commentary on a guy who did his best to serve his country but who got a truly cosmic shaft.more
One of Vonnegut's earliest novels, and of all I've read of his, one of his best.more
This is my first Vonnegut and I'm a complete convert. It's a gem - clever, funny, beautifully constructed and incredibly readable. Books narrated by anti-heroes have never quite done it for me, but Campbell, the narrator, is cleverly revealed as bad, but not evil and no worse than most of us are capable of being. A small masterpiece.more
I read this book only because it was written by Vonnegut and it is one of his best. It is about a Nazi propaganda peddler during WW2 and his life running from war crimes. I really enjoyed this because it was great to see what Vonnegut thought life would be like for a Nazi during WW2. He never fails to add humour to the tragic war.more
I have to admit that I have never read anything from Vonnegut prior to this volume. Wow - this is a great read. The black humor, the satire, and the mixing of the absurd with true human emotions makes the novel worth reading. Love, hate, patriotism, shame, and honor -- all woven through the blackest of humor.more
When I finished this novel, I knew that I had read something special. I had already read several of Vonnegut's novels including Slaughterhouse Five (which I read in college) when I was told by a clerk at a bookstore that this novel was Vonnegut's masterpiece. He was right. Everything in the work is not what it seems. The novel itself is broken into small chapters, each one a gem with some new twist or character, making the work fast paced and eminently readable. God, I wish I could write like this guy.more
I have to confess the only Vonnegut novel I tried prior to this was Slaughterhouse 5, which I really didn't like. That stopped my reading of Vonnegut right there. But I found this book in a charity store and thought an author with such an high reputation was worth another shot.I'm glad I gave Vonnegut a second chance because this was a really good novel. Whereas I disliked S5 for, in my view, trying too hard to be too obviously clever Mother Night almost feels too simple. It's written in a wonderfully easy manner but it's no less powerful as a result. Truly black humour here (but that's my sort of thing) and a compelling tale, I thought. Highly recommended.And, lastly, if we're into quoting here, the passage that struck me most heavily in these fraught times was:'There are plenty of good reasons for fighting,' I said, 'but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on his side. It's that part of every man that finds all kinds of ugliness so attractive. 'It's that part of an imbecile,' I said, 'that punishes and vilifies and makes war gladly.'more
Quick, clever, sour, and damning to anyone who ever equivocated or tallied with moral calculus. Not entirely earth-rending but still deeply unsettling and prickling with guilt.more
Wow, glancing over the shoulder of a passenger on the train this morning, this title caught my eye...and brought back the memory of reading this masterpiece. I totally forgot this classic and knew I didn't add it here. A remarkable novel about one man's discovery of his inner self, a man accused of "crimes against humanity" during world war 2. But things are not what they seem to be on the surface. Read this wonderful book. And thank you to the man on the subway for bringing this back to me.more
A propagandist (who was actually a spy, who was actually disinterested in everthing except his wife) recounts his war and post-war experiences before being tried as a war criminal. It's Vonnegut's writing that seems to be entirely effortless, yet brilliant, that blows me away. Short chapters and simple words are infused with incredible meaning. Here combined with a subject he understands very well (WWII) it's powerful stuff. Every character seems to be real *and* surreal. Also tiring to read, because of the subject, and I was glad to be done, but I don't wish I hadn't read it. "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." Certainly.more
Howard Campbell is an American playwright who stumbled into a role as a Nazi propagandist, and was extremely good at it. On the other hand he was also an American agent, passing coded clues through his radio show. Howard writes while looking back on his life from a prison cell in Israel, where he is to be tried for war crimes.Howard is essentially a nihilist; he denies the meaning of just about everything he has done or seen. He is still passionately in love with the wife he lost as the war ended. Has Howard become what he pretended to be? It appears that most of the interesting characters in the book are someone other than the face they present to the world, but we do not see the effect of their disguises as well as we see Howard's.I don't regard this as one of Vonnegut's best works; it's certainly not on a par with Slaughterhouse Five or Cat's Cradle. It is, however, an interesting look at how continued pretense affects our being, and how tere can be many sides to an "obvious" situation.more
It would be pretentious and preposterous to announce to the world what Kurt Vonnegut's "greatest novel" is. So I won't say Mother Night is his strongest work. But I will think it. You know, just to myself.Mother Night is pure Vonnegut (obviously; he DID write it). Our main character, Howard Campbell, is an imprisoned American spy who used to broadcast German propaganda during World War II. The book goes over his life, and since this is Vonnegut writing here, the commentary cuts like a razor.I've read some other reviews of Mother Night on Library Thing, and they're all very good, so I'm going to take a different direction from this point on.Vonnegut is my favorite writer. I truly believe that 2007 lost one of the greatest American minds that ever lived. Everything he has written -- from the The Sirens of Titan to A Man Without a Country -- has been decades if not centuries ahead of its time. And Vonnegut had a style that I have tried to explain to some orally, but it never seems to come out the right way, so I'll try it here. Vonnegut wrote in such a way that was purely conversational, yet at the same time, always thought-provoking and in search of greater truth. His satire is second to none in that it doesn't satirize specifics. It satirizes everything we hold dear, and makes a mockery out of what we take to be rational thought, those thoughts ingrained in us since we were children. And while he does this, it is taken as completely matter-of-fact, as if you were sitting having a beer with him, smoking a cigarette in a bar, and he were just meddling away, telling you about his life.He wrote like he weren't trying. So when he hammers a point home it hits you much harder. This is the kind of oration that the greatest rhetoricians in America use, though not as well. While I disagree with his train of thought, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is very good at spitting Bush administration talking points at his audience so matter-of-factly that it can become easy to find yourself saying, "Yeah, I mean we would have been fools NOT to bomb Baghdad. What's wrong with the 70 percent of Americans against the war?"Okay. Limbaugh...Vonnegut...in the same essay? Sorry people. But this is why I have so much trouble voicing my thoughts on Kurt Vonnegut. I see his techniques everywhere. Yet, for him, they didn't seem like techniques, they seemed banal. I think he was so smart that I still can't fully grasp his writing, even though I read Slaughterhouse Five when I was 13 (I re-read it when I was 22) and read Welcome to the Monkey House when I was 24. (I still am 24, by the way.) I'm just as clueless now as I was then about Vonnegut's writing. I can't understand how one person can get across so much in such a small amount of space. He understood things the way no one has before, and I have yet to see his protege make his or her way out of the fog that is the slow decline of American literature.Consider this quote from Mother Night:You hate America, don't you?" she said."That would be as silly as loving it," I said. "It's impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn't interest me. It's no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can't believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to the human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will."I mean to think Vonnegut wrote Mother Night in 1961, and by the 2000s we've got The Da Vinci Code revolution...it's sort of sad.I apologize to anyone who got nothing out of this review. Maybe it was more for me than it was for you. Maybe not. But if there's anything you CAN take out of my ramblings, I hope it is this: read Kurt Vonnegut.more
Vonnegut is at his best with this novel, in which a thick gray fog is allowed to settle on everything we believe we see in black and white.The novel's anti-hero, Howard W. Campbell, Jr., served the Americans as a spy by adopting the role of a high-ranking Nazi official charged with promulgating anti-American propaganda. Throughout the novel he tells us of the pragmatism that kept him alive during the war and after it: to himself he ascribes neither guilt, nor a sense of loss, nor a loathing of death, nor heartbroken rage, nor a unlovability, nor a sense of the cruelty of God (pp. 231-232). He steals, lies, deceives, schemes, and somehow even when caught manages to purchase freedom by one means or another. His world is not black and white, but gray, a full-blown cloud of obscuring mist. In order to perform the greatest acts of espionage, he was forced to author and deliver the most hateful of anti-Semitic screed. Which outweighs the other, the sinner or the saint? Impelled by whatever situation he finds himself in, our hero eventually loses all sense of black or white and opts for suicide over freedom when freedom might lend him another opportunity to pick sides.The book's most compelling passage, to me, came on page 233 and following, in which Campbell explains the way in which his colleagues (standing in for all of us) are able to cope with themselves:"I have never seen a more sublime demonstration of the totalitarian mind, a mind which may be likened unto a system of gears whose teeth have been filed off at random...The dismaying thing about the classic totalitarian mind is that any given gear, though mutilated, will have at its circumference unbroken sequences of teeth that are immaculately maintained, that are exquisitely machined...The missing teeth, of course, are simple, obvious truths, truths available and comprehensible even to ten-year-olds, in most cases. The willful filing off of gear teeth, the willful doing without certain obvious pieces of information -- That was how a household as contradictory as one composed of Jones, Father Keeley, Vice-Bundesfuehrer Krapptauer, and the Black Fuehrer could exist in relative harmony --That was how my father-in-law could contain in one mind an indifference toward slave women and love for a blue vase -- That was how Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz, could alternate over the loudspeakers of Auschwitz great music and calls for corpse-carriers --That was how Nazi Germany could sense no important differences between civilization and hydrophobia..."This passage stands in stark contrast to the totality of Jonthan Kozol's The Night is Dark and I Am Far From Home, which I read immediately before picking up Vonnegut. This last book offers a world of stark blacks and whites, in which action of an incontrovertible nature is demanded of the reader, should she not wish to bear the label "hypocrite." Vonnegut, on the other hand, leaves us wondering how in the hell hypocrisy can be defined in the first place.Like all of his best books, Vonnegut's Mother Night asks more questions than it answers.more
A paradoxical story about a man who excels as a Nazi propagandists, but is an U.S. agent. Which one is he, or both?more
Read all 23 reviews

Reviews

A great read. Very well written with lots to ponder. more
Dark and biting, with the blackest of humor. Vonnegut is one of the very few humorists out there who leaves you sadder than when you started. But I mean that as a compliment. He's one of the best.

Words fail me. He really as is great as people say.
more
This is a bit of a deviation from the outright funny Vonnegut books I've read so far. It's still satirical, still has moments of dark humor but it's toned down considerably.

It's a very thought provoking look at the lies people tell themselves and each other so they can justify their actions or lack thereof. And we're given this look through the eyes of a character who tells himself fewer lies than usual.

One of my favorite passages is talking both about how to avoid war and how to incite one.

"What can any one person do?" he said.
"Each person does a little something," I said, "and there you are."
more
One of my favorite books of all-time, and probably my favorite Vonnegut creation. I haven't read them all yet, but I think I like this one the best of those I have read.more
I've read nearly all Vonnegut's works, and this one is an unequivocal 5-star masterpiece to stand amongst his other greats. This book in particular almost seems to be the wisest, most world-weary of his efforts, a deeply personal story that superbly explores the themes or morality, identity, justice and even love, yet with a much more subdued but still enjoyable splattering of the writer's trademark wit. Even the way the story unfolds in its non-linear pseudo memoir reveals a more advanced and perfected style, that sublimely allows the tale be told in the most engaging and suspenseful manner. This is a very great book.more
Kurt Vonnegut rejects suspense. I'm okay with that. His books are good practice for being an old man resigned to the insignificance of one human life on a grand scale and the insignificance of all else on a local scale. I'm okay with that, too.more
My campaign to re-read (or, in some cases, read) the Vonnegut canon started out pretty lamely. Luckily, MOTHER NIGHT turned out to be every bit as good as I had remembered it being. A quirky and ironic commentary on a guy who did his best to serve his country but who got a truly cosmic shaft.more
One of Vonnegut's earliest novels, and of all I've read of his, one of his best.more
This is my first Vonnegut and I'm a complete convert. It's a gem - clever, funny, beautifully constructed and incredibly readable. Books narrated by anti-heroes have never quite done it for me, but Campbell, the narrator, is cleverly revealed as bad, but not evil and no worse than most of us are capable of being. A small masterpiece.more
I read this book only because it was written by Vonnegut and it is one of his best. It is about a Nazi propaganda peddler during WW2 and his life running from war crimes. I really enjoyed this because it was great to see what Vonnegut thought life would be like for a Nazi during WW2. He never fails to add humour to the tragic war.more
I have to admit that I have never read anything from Vonnegut prior to this volume. Wow - this is a great read. The black humor, the satire, and the mixing of the absurd with true human emotions makes the novel worth reading. Love, hate, patriotism, shame, and honor -- all woven through the blackest of humor.more
When I finished this novel, I knew that I had read something special. I had already read several of Vonnegut's novels including Slaughterhouse Five (which I read in college) when I was told by a clerk at a bookstore that this novel was Vonnegut's masterpiece. He was right. Everything in the work is not what it seems. The novel itself is broken into small chapters, each one a gem with some new twist or character, making the work fast paced and eminently readable. God, I wish I could write like this guy.more
I have to confess the only Vonnegut novel I tried prior to this was Slaughterhouse 5, which I really didn't like. That stopped my reading of Vonnegut right there. But I found this book in a charity store and thought an author with such an high reputation was worth another shot.I'm glad I gave Vonnegut a second chance because this was a really good novel. Whereas I disliked S5 for, in my view, trying too hard to be too obviously clever Mother Night almost feels too simple. It's written in a wonderfully easy manner but it's no less powerful as a result. Truly black humour here (but that's my sort of thing) and a compelling tale, I thought. Highly recommended.And, lastly, if we're into quoting here, the passage that struck me most heavily in these fraught times was:'There are plenty of good reasons for fighting,' I said, 'but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on his side. It's that part of every man that finds all kinds of ugliness so attractive. 'It's that part of an imbecile,' I said, 'that punishes and vilifies and makes war gladly.'more
Quick, clever, sour, and damning to anyone who ever equivocated or tallied with moral calculus. Not entirely earth-rending but still deeply unsettling and prickling with guilt.more
Wow, glancing over the shoulder of a passenger on the train this morning, this title caught my eye...and brought back the memory of reading this masterpiece. I totally forgot this classic and knew I didn't add it here. A remarkable novel about one man's discovery of his inner self, a man accused of "crimes against humanity" during world war 2. But things are not what they seem to be on the surface. Read this wonderful book. And thank you to the man on the subway for bringing this back to me.more
A propagandist (who was actually a spy, who was actually disinterested in everthing except his wife) recounts his war and post-war experiences before being tried as a war criminal. It's Vonnegut's writing that seems to be entirely effortless, yet brilliant, that blows me away. Short chapters and simple words are infused with incredible meaning. Here combined with a subject he understands very well (WWII) it's powerful stuff. Every character seems to be real *and* surreal. Also tiring to read, because of the subject, and I was glad to be done, but I don't wish I hadn't read it. "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." Certainly.more
Howard Campbell is an American playwright who stumbled into a role as a Nazi propagandist, and was extremely good at it. On the other hand he was also an American agent, passing coded clues through his radio show. Howard writes while looking back on his life from a prison cell in Israel, where he is to be tried for war crimes.Howard is essentially a nihilist; he denies the meaning of just about everything he has done or seen. He is still passionately in love with the wife he lost as the war ended. Has Howard become what he pretended to be? It appears that most of the interesting characters in the book are someone other than the face they present to the world, but we do not see the effect of their disguises as well as we see Howard's.I don't regard this as one of Vonnegut's best works; it's certainly not on a par with Slaughterhouse Five or Cat's Cradle. It is, however, an interesting look at how continued pretense affects our being, and how tere can be many sides to an "obvious" situation.more
It would be pretentious and preposterous to announce to the world what Kurt Vonnegut's "greatest novel" is. So I won't say Mother Night is his strongest work. But I will think it. You know, just to myself.Mother Night is pure Vonnegut (obviously; he DID write it). Our main character, Howard Campbell, is an imprisoned American spy who used to broadcast German propaganda during World War II. The book goes over his life, and since this is Vonnegut writing here, the commentary cuts like a razor.I've read some other reviews of Mother Night on Library Thing, and they're all very good, so I'm going to take a different direction from this point on.Vonnegut is my favorite writer. I truly believe that 2007 lost one of the greatest American minds that ever lived. Everything he has written -- from the The Sirens of Titan to A Man Without a Country -- has been decades if not centuries ahead of its time. And Vonnegut had a style that I have tried to explain to some orally, but it never seems to come out the right way, so I'll try it here. Vonnegut wrote in such a way that was purely conversational, yet at the same time, always thought-provoking and in search of greater truth. His satire is second to none in that it doesn't satirize specifics. It satirizes everything we hold dear, and makes a mockery out of what we take to be rational thought, those thoughts ingrained in us since we were children. And while he does this, it is taken as completely matter-of-fact, as if you were sitting having a beer with him, smoking a cigarette in a bar, and he were just meddling away, telling you about his life.He wrote like he weren't trying. So when he hammers a point home it hits you much harder. This is the kind of oration that the greatest rhetoricians in America use, though not as well. While I disagree with his train of thought, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is very good at spitting Bush administration talking points at his audience so matter-of-factly that it can become easy to find yourself saying, "Yeah, I mean we would have been fools NOT to bomb Baghdad. What's wrong with the 70 percent of Americans against the war?"Okay. Limbaugh...Vonnegut...in the same essay? Sorry people. But this is why I have so much trouble voicing my thoughts on Kurt Vonnegut. I see his techniques everywhere. Yet, for him, they didn't seem like techniques, they seemed banal. I think he was so smart that I still can't fully grasp his writing, even though I read Slaughterhouse Five when I was 13 (I re-read it when I was 22) and read Welcome to the Monkey House when I was 24. (I still am 24, by the way.) I'm just as clueless now as I was then about Vonnegut's writing. I can't understand how one person can get across so much in such a small amount of space. He understood things the way no one has before, and I have yet to see his protege make his or her way out of the fog that is the slow decline of American literature.Consider this quote from Mother Night:You hate America, don't you?" she said."That would be as silly as loving it," I said. "It's impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn't interest me. It's no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can't believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to the human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will."I mean to think Vonnegut wrote Mother Night in 1961, and by the 2000s we've got The Da Vinci Code revolution...it's sort of sad.I apologize to anyone who got nothing out of this review. Maybe it was more for me than it was for you. Maybe not. But if there's anything you CAN take out of my ramblings, I hope it is this: read Kurt Vonnegut.more
Vonnegut is at his best with this novel, in which a thick gray fog is allowed to settle on everything we believe we see in black and white.The novel's anti-hero, Howard W. Campbell, Jr., served the Americans as a spy by adopting the role of a high-ranking Nazi official charged with promulgating anti-American propaganda. Throughout the novel he tells us of the pragmatism that kept him alive during the war and after it: to himself he ascribes neither guilt, nor a sense of loss, nor a loathing of death, nor heartbroken rage, nor a unlovability, nor a sense of the cruelty of God (pp. 231-232). He steals, lies, deceives, schemes, and somehow even when caught manages to purchase freedom by one means or another. His world is not black and white, but gray, a full-blown cloud of obscuring mist. In order to perform the greatest acts of espionage, he was forced to author and deliver the most hateful of anti-Semitic screed. Which outweighs the other, the sinner or the saint? Impelled by whatever situation he finds himself in, our hero eventually loses all sense of black or white and opts for suicide over freedom when freedom might lend him another opportunity to pick sides.The book's most compelling passage, to me, came on page 233 and following, in which Campbell explains the way in which his colleagues (standing in for all of us) are able to cope with themselves:"I have never seen a more sublime demonstration of the totalitarian mind, a mind which may be likened unto a system of gears whose teeth have been filed off at random...The dismaying thing about the classic totalitarian mind is that any given gear, though mutilated, will have at its circumference unbroken sequences of teeth that are immaculately maintained, that are exquisitely machined...The missing teeth, of course, are simple, obvious truths, truths available and comprehensible even to ten-year-olds, in most cases. The willful filing off of gear teeth, the willful doing without certain obvious pieces of information -- That was how a household as contradictory as one composed of Jones, Father Keeley, Vice-Bundesfuehrer Krapptauer, and the Black Fuehrer could exist in relative harmony --That was how my father-in-law could contain in one mind an indifference toward slave women and love for a blue vase -- That was how Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz, could alternate over the loudspeakers of Auschwitz great music and calls for corpse-carriers --That was how Nazi Germany could sense no important differences between civilization and hydrophobia..."This passage stands in stark contrast to the totality of Jonthan Kozol's The Night is Dark and I Am Far From Home, which I read immediately before picking up Vonnegut. This last book offers a world of stark blacks and whites, in which action of an incontrovertible nature is demanded of the reader, should she not wish to bear the label "hypocrite." Vonnegut, on the other hand, leaves us wondering how in the hell hypocrisy can be defined in the first place.Like all of his best books, Vonnegut's Mother Night asks more questions than it answers.more
A paradoxical story about a man who excels as a Nazi propagandists, but is an U.S. agent. Which one is he, or both?more
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