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A Man Without a Country is Kurt Vonnegut’s hilariously funny and razor-sharp look at life ("If I die—God forbid—I would like to go to heaven to ask somebody in charge up there, ‘Hey, what was the good news and what was the bad news?"), art ("To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it."), politics ("I asked former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton what he thought of our great victory over Iraq and he said, ‘Mohammed Ali versus Mr. Rogers.’"), and the condition of the soul of America today ("What has happened to us?").
Based on short essays and speeches composed over the last five years and plentifully illustrated with artwork by the author throughout, A Man Without a Country gives us Vonnegut both speaking out with indignation and writing tenderly to his fellow Americans, sometimes joking, at other times hopeless, always searching.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9781583227909
List price: $27.99
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The work of an author with more than 1 book under his belt. For Vonnegut aficionados.more
I actually just rescued this off a weeding cart to read at lunch, but it reads almost like a cynic's version of "Oh the Places You'll Go!" Vonnegut talks a lot about life and politics and in fewer than 150 broad-margined pages manages to amuse and offend pretty much anyone reading the book. But in addition to the lighthearted jokes and the bombing of Dresden (and even a joke or two ABOUT the bombing of Dresden), there are a lot of beautiful things and good advice built into the pages.It's not necessary to have read any of Vonnegut's fiction to appreciate the book, but it does add a little more depth to the book, and it gives roots to some of his more esoteric ramblings.The book would make a good graduation gift for a high-school student or a cynic in training. But then again, pretty much anyone can appreciate the page that says "We are here on earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."more
The only criticism is that this work is much too short. Mark Twain livesmore
"A Man Without a Country" is not a novel, of course, but an update on Vonnegut thought, particularly about social issues and President G.W. Bush and others of his calling, like Jas. K. Polk and Abe Lincoln. Nor was it intended as a last will and testament; Kurt Vonnegut was only 82 with plenty of potential to finish "If God Were Alive Today" and anything else that came to this Nobel Laureate's agile and unique mind. He was ready for another Nobel. What? They don't award more than one to the same genius? Yet another first for this great, great man. If you've read "Mother Night," or "Cat's Cradle," or "Slaughterhouse Five," I know you'll agree that these tales make you laugh, weep, and even think. What more can you ask of Great Literature? OK, I was just kidding about his winning a Nobel Prize, as I'm sure the committee in Stockholm thought they were doing by holding it back for so long. "A Man Without a Country" reads like a series of Nobel acceptance speeches, and great ones at that. So I figured that with this book I was getting a preview of a major coming attraction. But the Swedes lost a chance to redeem themselves; they failed again to Ring the Nobel for Vonnegut in 2006. “A Man Without a Country” encapsulates his legacy: “Electronic communities build nothing. You wind up with nothing. We are dancing animals. How beautiful it is to get up and go do something. We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”more
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?).more
If he wasn't famous, this book would probably have no audience. Though perhaps my harshness is due to 1. listening to an over-emoted audio version dripping with a sardonic tone and/or 2. reading this too long after the world events he writes about. But really, meh.more
This is a great book.more
Basically classic Vonnegut. Definitely some gems in there, but a little more overtly preachy than the other stuff I've read as there is no fictitious narrative to enshroud it. Not his best, but probably worth a read if you really like Vonnegut.more
This was the first book of Vonnegut's I read, (I've since read the majority of his work). It's also the very last book he published while alive. From the first pages of this book I was completely enamored with his candid style and black sense of humor. The book itself is a gem, but it's no better than his other collections of essays. I enjoy his fiction, but have found that his nonfiction, opinion-based ramblings are more my style. He had a way of weaving serious issues, like war, with threads of absurdity that's so unique. This book gives you a great taste of his work because it's a short collection that deals with current issues. His very distinct way of writing that often polarizes readers when it comes to his work. I'll be the first to admit that Vonnegut is not for everyone, but he is, for me, a joy to read.more
Several of the blurbs for this book say it is as close as we will get to a memoir from Vonnegut. Honestly, if you have read Cat's Cradle, Slaughter-House Five, and his collections of lectures, speeches, etc. you have read everything in this book before. That doesn't mean it isn't worth reading. It is full of Vonnegut wit and misanthropy. It is fragmented, like his novels. It is funny, like his novels. The humor is to deal with the fear and hopelessness. He states that he has given up on mankind, and in particular, America. He strongly disliked the Bush administration, and he strongly believed that humans have destroyed the Earth. In typical Vonnegut fashion, he doesn't have any hope for us. To some degree it reads like a really depressed Al Gore- if Al Gore had a personality and was funny. I like Vonnegut's fiction. I liked it even more in my twenties when I was just as negative as he is, but I personally think you have to balance his cynicism with your own common sense and your own ability to think for yourself.more
A quick read, but a treasure. Not a bad book for those who have never read anything by the author before. Very quickly, you get a sense of who Kurt is, what he believes in, and the humorous stance he has taken in order to get "through this thing, whatever it is."more
I watched a PBS interview with Kurt Vonnegut and they were talking about this book. I found him to be a very interesting and satirical man. I had never heard of him before and was intrigued by watching him.There were many times throughout the book that I thought to myself "that is exactly what I was thinking." I liked that he was not afraid to say what he felt and I got the feeling that he didn't care who heard him.This book lead me into my quest for reading all Kurt Vonnegut I can get my hands on. I am looking forward to reading much more in the future.more
My rating might be a little high as I am a pretty big Vonnegut fan.more
This is basically an amalgamation of brief rants by Mr. Vonnegut. It reads like the writings of a 16 year old socialist who denounces the world's evils with half-baked arguments. Not too funny and and rather witless, I'm disappointed, as I have enjoyed some of his novels.more
An attempt to an autobiography. I think Vonnegut didn't have enough strength left in him to write a real story of his life. As it stands now the book is a collection of oneliners and sweeping statements. This makes sometimes shallow reading, although lots of his statements make you think. Many of them very dark: ''We have squandered our planet's resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so there isn't going to be one.'' Sometimes a bit more optimistic: ''What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do.'' If you haven't read anything from Vonnegut I would suggest you read some of his other books first (my personal recommendations: 'Slaughterhouse 5' and 'Galapagos'),before you turn to this book, which presupposes some familiarity with his novels.more
Took less than a morning to read, and it's already one of my favorite books of the year! Full of opinion, rants, KV articulates my frustrations and passions of this era better than any other I've read recently.more
Excellent political commentary; autobiographical and humorous. Essential Vonnegut.more
A short book of Vonnegut's musings on his life and life in general. After reading his first book, Player Piano, written 53 years ago, and not terribly good, it was a pleasure to read this and remember what he was like when he was good. Some really funny bits. And some dark despair. He gets a bit repetitive as the book goes on, but I feel such affection for him that I forgive.more
As many have said, it’s part essay collection, part ramblings of a grumpy old man. But as I’ve also said in the past, Vonnegut’s throwaways are more entertaining and full of more wisdom than the best achievements of others. Even when I don’t agree with some of his points (such as KV’s defense of Ludditism), he’s still funny.more
I love Kurt Vonnegut, as my book collection will attest, but this collection of essays is way uneven in interest and quality.more
Quite funny throughout. It's a short, but satisfying read, really only a few hours. Very curt, but poignant discussions on a variety of topics ranging from politics to the meaning of life. Some repetition occurs, but only a few times, that's the worst I have to say about it. I'm glad someone left it behind in the hotel courtyard.more
Author is certainly pessimistic about the outcome of the human race. But in the meantime appreciate happiness when you have it. Not a story but his own perspectives.more
I saw most of this book delivered as a lecture at Case Western Reserve University in 1988. It was better in person. But it's Vonnegut so it's better than most anyway.more
Fun read. KV's swipe at the pluperfect mess our government, nation, and world is in all critiqued with KV style.more
Read all 35 reviews

Reviews

The work of an author with more than 1 book under his belt. For Vonnegut aficionados.more
I actually just rescued this off a weeding cart to read at lunch, but it reads almost like a cynic's version of "Oh the Places You'll Go!" Vonnegut talks a lot about life and politics and in fewer than 150 broad-margined pages manages to amuse and offend pretty much anyone reading the book. But in addition to the lighthearted jokes and the bombing of Dresden (and even a joke or two ABOUT the bombing of Dresden), there are a lot of beautiful things and good advice built into the pages.It's not necessary to have read any of Vonnegut's fiction to appreciate the book, but it does add a little more depth to the book, and it gives roots to some of his more esoteric ramblings.The book would make a good graduation gift for a high-school student or a cynic in training. But then again, pretty much anyone can appreciate the page that says "We are here on earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."more
The only criticism is that this work is much too short. Mark Twain livesmore
"A Man Without a Country" is not a novel, of course, but an update on Vonnegut thought, particularly about social issues and President G.W. Bush and others of his calling, like Jas. K. Polk and Abe Lincoln. Nor was it intended as a last will and testament; Kurt Vonnegut was only 82 with plenty of potential to finish "If God Were Alive Today" and anything else that came to this Nobel Laureate's agile and unique mind. He was ready for another Nobel. What? They don't award more than one to the same genius? Yet another first for this great, great man. If you've read "Mother Night," or "Cat's Cradle," or "Slaughterhouse Five," I know you'll agree that these tales make you laugh, weep, and even think. What more can you ask of Great Literature? OK, I was just kidding about his winning a Nobel Prize, as I'm sure the committee in Stockholm thought they were doing by holding it back for so long. "A Man Without a Country" reads like a series of Nobel acceptance speeches, and great ones at that. So I figured that with this book I was getting a preview of a major coming attraction. But the Swedes lost a chance to redeem themselves; they failed again to Ring the Nobel for Vonnegut in 2006. “A Man Without a Country” encapsulates his legacy: “Electronic communities build nothing. You wind up with nothing. We are dancing animals. How beautiful it is to get up and go do something. We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”more
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?).more
If he wasn't famous, this book would probably have no audience. Though perhaps my harshness is due to 1. listening to an over-emoted audio version dripping with a sardonic tone and/or 2. reading this too long after the world events he writes about. But really, meh.more
This is a great book.more
Basically classic Vonnegut. Definitely some gems in there, but a little more overtly preachy than the other stuff I've read as there is no fictitious narrative to enshroud it. Not his best, but probably worth a read if you really like Vonnegut.more
This was the first book of Vonnegut's I read, (I've since read the majority of his work). It's also the very last book he published while alive. From the first pages of this book I was completely enamored with his candid style and black sense of humor. The book itself is a gem, but it's no better than his other collections of essays. I enjoy his fiction, but have found that his nonfiction, opinion-based ramblings are more my style. He had a way of weaving serious issues, like war, with threads of absurdity that's so unique. This book gives you a great taste of his work because it's a short collection that deals with current issues. His very distinct way of writing that often polarizes readers when it comes to his work. I'll be the first to admit that Vonnegut is not for everyone, but he is, for me, a joy to read.more
Several of the blurbs for this book say it is as close as we will get to a memoir from Vonnegut. Honestly, if you have read Cat's Cradle, Slaughter-House Five, and his collections of lectures, speeches, etc. you have read everything in this book before. That doesn't mean it isn't worth reading. It is full of Vonnegut wit and misanthropy. It is fragmented, like his novels. It is funny, like his novels. The humor is to deal with the fear and hopelessness. He states that he has given up on mankind, and in particular, America. He strongly disliked the Bush administration, and he strongly believed that humans have destroyed the Earth. In typical Vonnegut fashion, he doesn't have any hope for us. To some degree it reads like a really depressed Al Gore- if Al Gore had a personality and was funny. I like Vonnegut's fiction. I liked it even more in my twenties when I was just as negative as he is, but I personally think you have to balance his cynicism with your own common sense and your own ability to think for yourself.more
A quick read, but a treasure. Not a bad book for those who have never read anything by the author before. Very quickly, you get a sense of who Kurt is, what he believes in, and the humorous stance he has taken in order to get "through this thing, whatever it is."more
I watched a PBS interview with Kurt Vonnegut and they were talking about this book. I found him to be a very interesting and satirical man. I had never heard of him before and was intrigued by watching him.There were many times throughout the book that I thought to myself "that is exactly what I was thinking." I liked that he was not afraid to say what he felt and I got the feeling that he didn't care who heard him.This book lead me into my quest for reading all Kurt Vonnegut I can get my hands on. I am looking forward to reading much more in the future.more
My rating might be a little high as I am a pretty big Vonnegut fan.more
This is basically an amalgamation of brief rants by Mr. Vonnegut. It reads like the writings of a 16 year old socialist who denounces the world's evils with half-baked arguments. Not too funny and and rather witless, I'm disappointed, as I have enjoyed some of his novels.more
An attempt to an autobiography. I think Vonnegut didn't have enough strength left in him to write a real story of his life. As it stands now the book is a collection of oneliners and sweeping statements. This makes sometimes shallow reading, although lots of his statements make you think. Many of them very dark: ''We have squandered our planet's resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so there isn't going to be one.'' Sometimes a bit more optimistic: ''What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do.'' If you haven't read anything from Vonnegut I would suggest you read some of his other books first (my personal recommendations: 'Slaughterhouse 5' and 'Galapagos'),before you turn to this book, which presupposes some familiarity with his novels.more
Took less than a morning to read, and it's already one of my favorite books of the year! Full of opinion, rants, KV articulates my frustrations and passions of this era better than any other I've read recently.more
Excellent political commentary; autobiographical and humorous. Essential Vonnegut.more
A short book of Vonnegut's musings on his life and life in general. After reading his first book, Player Piano, written 53 years ago, and not terribly good, it was a pleasure to read this and remember what he was like when he was good. Some really funny bits. And some dark despair. He gets a bit repetitive as the book goes on, but I feel such affection for him that I forgive.more
As many have said, it’s part essay collection, part ramblings of a grumpy old man. But as I’ve also said in the past, Vonnegut’s throwaways are more entertaining and full of more wisdom than the best achievements of others. Even when I don’t agree with some of his points (such as KV’s defense of Ludditism), he’s still funny.more
I love Kurt Vonnegut, as my book collection will attest, but this collection of essays is way uneven in interest and quality.more
Quite funny throughout. It's a short, but satisfying read, really only a few hours. Very curt, but poignant discussions on a variety of topics ranging from politics to the meaning of life. Some repetition occurs, but only a few times, that's the worst I have to say about it. I'm glad someone left it behind in the hotel courtyard.more
Author is certainly pessimistic about the outcome of the human race. But in the meantime appreciate happiness when you have it. Not a story but his own perspectives.more
I saw most of this book delivered as a lecture at Case Western Reserve University in 1988. It was better in person. But it's Vonnegut so it's better than most anyway.more
Fun read. KV's swipe at the pluperfect mess our government, nation, and world is in all critiqued with KV style.more
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