Customer Reviews for

Johnny Got His Gun

Average Rating 4.5
( 86 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 86 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Most Powerful Anti-War Book EVER

    I learned of this book from Metallica's grammy winning song One. it is fiction, but the horrors and drama entailed in it pack such a powerful punch that if it was obligatory to read, war might never exist. Just the psychological aspect of a soldier, ruined from the heat of a battle and physically destroyed is amazing, and Dalton Trumbo absolutely intensifies that feeling, and how the human war machine keeps on working.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2008

    Johnny Got His Gun by: Dalton Trumbo

    Review by: Daniel Mangum Johnny Got His Gun takes place in pre and post WWI. Most of the story occurs in the confiding of a military medical hospital which the main character, Joe Bonham, resides in. Throughout the story Joe has flashbacks to parts of his life which mainly occur in pre WWI in the areas of Shale City Colorado and in the greater Los Angeles areas. Throughout the story Joe goes back to specific events in his life before his catastrophic and nearly fatal injury. Such events are reminders to Joe of how his life was and the way his wishes it was at the time. A few examples of these would be the fishing trips with his father, his mother¿s cooking and the few jobs and girlfriends he had during the time of his youth. These events are ways for Joe to escape the pain he is in and go back to a better time and place in his life. When Joe was sent off to war, it was a sad day for his family. His close friends and family was there sad to see him leave. yet proud because he was fighting for his country. While Joe was in the war, a mortar shell exploded and destroyed his face and body by blowing off his lower jaw, ears, eyes and nose. Joes legs and arms are blown away as well. As apposed to dying, Joe is taken to a military hospital where he is totally wrapped in bandages because of his wounds and his arms and legs are amputated as well. In the story he describes this phenomenon as being put back into his mother¿s womb. He is kept alive though a feeding tube and another that supplies him oxygen. Joe is not able to tell night from day, nor being awake from asleep in the beginning. He wishes to die, but has no way to communicate to anyone that he wishes for such. When Joe realizes he still has the sensory to fell someone touching him, he taps in Morse code to his nurse his wishes. Throughout a series of communications through Morse code, Joe taps ¿Kill me,¿ and thus his wish is granted in the end.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    A Must Read!

    A truly wonderful anti-war book set during the first World War. The story is about a young American soldier, Joe Bonham, whom was severely injured from an artillery shell and now lies in a comatose state in a military hospital, kept alive by a machine, his mind fully awake and cognizant, but imprisoned in his own body. To pass time, and attempt to maintain his own sanity, Joe looks back and reflects upon his life and the events that led up to this point. All the while asking himself, asking the reader, if in the name of "Democracy", is it all worth it?

    One of the books that landed Dalton Trumbo (Night of the Aurochs) on McCarthy's "Black List" from 1947 to 1960, Johnny Got His Gun is a moving and compelling piece of work that looks at the after effects of wartime on the soldiers that risk everything to protect our way of life, and never flinches when asking if it's worth it sending those so young to an almost guaranteed end to preserve the ideals put forth by the men in the capital that can rest easy knowing it's not their lives or the lives of their kin on the line.

    Johnny Got His Gun is a book that transcends the tests of time and is an appropriate work of literature that applies to every generation of humanity.

    What would you be willing to give for Democracy?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2012

    Johnny Got his gun takes a potentially boring plot about and inj

    Johnny Got his gun takes a potentially boring plot about and injured WWI veteran and weaves it into a great book.Dalton Trumbo did a great job writing this book. he provides great imagery even with a blind character. Joe Bonham, the main character is severly wounded in war, he is blind,deaf, and has no limbs. You experience a great journey as Joe tries to put the pieces of his life back together. He has to reaquire the knowledge of time and other events. He is also left alone to his thoughts and often meditates on past experiences. Trumbo does an excellent job of foreshadowing the transition from present to past, making it smooth and easy to follow. Trumbo uses a unique way to make an almost lifeless character contain a giant amount of personality. Dalton provides a way for the reader to dive deep into the mind of Joe, where all of his thoughts lay. The thoughts of love and hate, admiration and disguest.The writing allows the reader to connect with Joe and picture the world around Joe, that Joe cant see himself. This book is a must read it contains a great plot,excellent writing,and a great character the reader can connect with and an emotional rollercoaster.

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  • Posted May 1, 2012

    Worst book ever. I do not like death but it is necessary. Want a

    Worst book ever. I do not like death but it is necessary. Want a better book look at This Mans Army.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2012

    A book well worth reading. I read it 40 years ago and was pleased to be able to get a copy of my own. Dynamite!

    The ending is a huge surprise. It is gripping and holds your interest. It is a best seller and book of the year!
    I would recommend it for book club discussions.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    Must Read!

    I thought that Johnny Got His Gun was a great book. This is a must read if you are interested about the nature of war and the history behind it. It has changed my life. This book was written in the early to mid-1920's. He left his family and friends even his girlfriend to go fight in the war. Everybody was devastated, but they were proud of him because he was fighting for the country. Joe the main character has many flashbacks to part of his life mainly from World War Two. He was nearly dead after the mortal shell had exploded. Instead of being dead they took him to the military hospital where they have treated him. It was unbelievable that Joe was suffering from such a horrific accident. He realizes after a while he cannot speak, see, or hear anything because he has lost his face from the accident. He has a Morse code we he can communicate with the nurses and his family. After the whole accident were it basically ruined his life he was always wishing he could die and not live through the pain. He wants to see what the world outside is like, but with no face, no limbs and half a body makes it a struggle for him. With being in any World War there are many tragedies and dangerous things that happen out in the world. With being in the military you are trying to save the country but you are also putting your life at risk, just like Joe did. Overall I think this was a great book and I recommended it to anybody either who is interested in the war even if there not. It's a great book and you get to understand how being in the world is really like.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

    Best anti war novel

    Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo is an anti war novel about WWI. I first heard of the book from the song "One" by Metallica. I looked up the song and found out it was a based on this book. I thought it sounded good and decided to read it. Reading the introduction I found out that the book was originally published in 1939 but it was about to get banned because it was so anti war and WWII was beginning so he suspended printing of the book until after the war. Later Trumbo directed a movie about the book in 1971. The book is a little confusing because the main character, Joe Bonham, is always having flashbacks and dreams and goes insane and sometimes can't even tell his own dreams from reality. Also Trumbo doesn't use one comma in the whole book because it's written as a poor, not highly educated soldier's thoughts, so it's a little confusing at first. The book is really horrific and sad about how under-appreciated he is and how he goes insane about it. The doctors pretty much used him as an experiment. When the doctors realized he still had a mind and a thinking person was trapped inside that body, when he finally learned how to communicate and asked for a simple favor that could have even paid off his hospital bills, they just tuned him out and ignored him or drugged him.

    My favorite part of the book was chapter 10 which talked about what you are actually fighting for in war and how important life is and nothings worth dying for. Like what are you actually fighting for, what is "liberty," "honor," "freedom," or "our homeland?" Have you ever noticed a huge difference after these wars were over, a difference worth dying over? If you die fighting for it then you won't even get to see what it was that you were fighting for, and that's not worth fighting for at all especially to leave behind all your family and friends. That is just dying for no good reason at all.

    If you like anti war books and stories this is one of the best and I would highly recommend it to everyone. It's a great book that I think everyone should be required to read it. It teaches and talks about the true realities of war. But I think the biggest message in this book is how important life is and almost nothing is worth dying over especially not a silly word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2010

    Chilling novel- great.

    Dalton Trumbo's shocking novel will leave you with a feeling that cannot easily be shaken for days. The chilling language conveys the terrifying reality of the uncensored truth about war. The novel is both violent and nostalgic, terrifying and revealing of how nothing should be taken for granted. Johnny Got His Gun is the kind of book that can be read front to back again and again, without losing emotion.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book!

    Easy to read but extremely enlightening. One of the best books I have ever read. I found myself struggling to breath when the main character discovered he had no lungs. Easily the best anti-war book ever written! The effect of this novel will stay with you until long after you finish it.

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  • Posted October 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The quintessential anti war book written in 1939

    The quintessential anti war book written in 1939. Based on World War I--the war to end all wars, Dalton Trumbo creates a character, Joe Bonham, who survives a bomb blast in a very singular way. He loses all four limbs, his hearing, his speech, his taste--left only to thin--and feel vibrations and touch.<BR/><BR/>Trumbo goes further when he adds:"But his latest thing, this inability to tell dreams from thought was oblivion. It made him nothing and less than nothing."<BR/><BR/>This average Joe can't tell what has happened in his prior life (flashbacks) from dreams or his present reality.<BR/><BR/>The idea of the book is to describe the worst possible way to survive a war injury, because in doing so, Mr. Trumbo makes war a despicable thing.<BR/><BR/>"Hell's fire guys had always been fighting for liberty. America fought a war for liberty in 1776. Lots of guys died. And in the end does America have more liberty than Canada or Australia who didn't fight at all?"<BR/><BR/>Mr. Trumbo takes this regular Joe and leads us through his thoughts about the concepts of liberty, decency, honor, country, and principles in general. The heroe's answer is: "There is no word worth your life." "Nothing is bigger than life. There is nothing noble in death."<BR/><BR/>The second part of the book deals with the acceptance of Joe's condition. He starts by tracking time by the way the heat hits his face in the morning, the nurses that interact with him. Once he figure how to tell time: "if you can keep track of time you can get a hold on yourself and the world but if you lose it then you are lost too."<BR/><BR/>After succeeding in telling time, now a few years later, his mind decides that he might be able to communicate with the outside world. tapping his head S. O. S. for several months he finally has a breakthrough when he gets a new nurse during the Christmas holidays. The nurse took off his robe and traced in his body "Merry Christmas"<BR/><BR/>He thought that for the first time in many years "he was not alone."<BR/><BR/>This nurse alerts the hospital staff who come and ask Joe "What do you want"<BR/><BR/>He just wanted to get out--he wanted to be a symbol of what war could do to people so that governments would think harder before deciding to go ever go to war again.<BR/><BR/>The official answer was that it was ¿against regulations.¿ <BR/><BR/>He understood: "He was the future he was the perfect picture of the future and they were afraid to let anyone see what the future was like. Already they were looking ahead they were figuring the future and somewhere in the future they saw war."

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  • Posted October 16, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Not as depressing or as anti-war as I expeted.

    I read this book because of the substory of the corpse named Lazarus, which was very humorous in a macabre way. My sister had shown me that Lazarus passage once and I never forgot it, and it later motivated me to read the whole book. This book is easy to read quickly. The downside for me was that the themes were so gruesome that I never wanted to read it before bed because the horrible imagery might give me nightmares. I didn't really interpret this book as an anti-war novel, though, but rather more as a terrific example of how a human being can pull theirself out of any situation by ingenuity, perseverence, and time. The narrator's anti-war speeches weren't particularly logical or insightful to me, though they are a great basis for thought and group discussion, and politically they were right on target. I didn't interpret the ending as death or failure of the narrator, which is the opposite of what one reviewer claimed. One part that showed lack of concern for detail was that the Morse code transliterations were inconsistent and therefore provably erroneous: that such an obvious error wasn't corrected is disappointing. To sum up the book I would say that it's a good but not excellent read, and it's useful for many reasons: thought, discussion, humor, inspiration, a lesson about perseverance, anti-war sentiment, politics, motivation to learn Morse code, and more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2007

    A reviewer

    The book is about a 16 yearold boy in the Army during WW1. A landmine takes his legs face arms, and on top of that all 5 senses. He is trapped in himself and prays for death. He is the defintion of hell on earth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2006

    Overwhelming Pacifist Theme

    This is the most shocking yet wonderful anti-war book ever written. Thank God for Mr. Trumbo. This book will (maybe) change all your views of war and the system. Put yourself in Joe's shoes and you will find it quite disturbing and depressing. Just think of it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2006


    when i checked 'johnny got his gun' out from the library, the librarian assured me that it was the greatest anti-war novel of all time. i havnt read any others, but i highly recomend it to anyone who is even thinking about joining the military, along with anyone who isnt. you learn the tradgedy and devastation of war from a man who should be its spokesperson, and you follow his lifes story. great book, so you should definitely read it before you die.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    A timeless 'Must Read'

    I first read this book in the mid '70's and rediscovered it recently (2006). I'm amazed how timeless and in-step with current events it seems and highly recommend it as a going away gift to our troops going abroad as well as elected officials. Many readers will not finish it due to the discomfort it may cause as it plays a symphony on various political, religous and patriotic nerves.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2006

    An unforgettable read

    I was an English major in the 70's which means I had to read many, many hundreds of books. This book has stuck with me like few others. No, maybe like no other. Some years ago my son introduced me to Metallica's song 'One,' and when I heard the chorus 'Hold my breath as I wish for death, Oh please God, wake me' I felt this man's despair as I had when I first read the book. He wished he could stop breathing long enough to stop the pain of being alive. What could be worse? I also remembered poignantly the chapter where he enjoyed the thought of holding his girlfriend in his arms, and suddenly realized he no longer had any arms. How many of us have ever had to deal with anything that horrific? There are many other books that have touched me, but few like this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2006

    Causes you to look at war in a whole new way

    I first read this book about 15 years ago, and I have never, ever forgotten it. It touched me right down to my core. It is the most profound anti-war novel ever written because it brings the reality of war's ugliness and its consequences centerfront. In a world so desensitized by the daily statistics of war, it is a real jolt back to reality. It gives war a human face, one that you will never forget!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2006

    Changes the views on war

    This book is incredibly well written. It is one of the best I have ever read. The word choice and dialect overlap perfectly with the theme of anti-war that the author, Dalton Trumbo, is trying to get across. The flashbacks of Joe Bonham parallel very well with the ongoing story of Joe being trapped inside his own head. Another strong quality is the way Joe is depicted as a common man. This shows that it is the luck of war that chooses its victims, not the person themselves. This could happen to anyone. The reasons why the author was blacklisted are obvious yet obserd all the same. This novel depicts what war is really like, unlike the propaganda that is put out by recruiting agencies. I have changed the way i view war solely because of this book. ~Armgwe Flenkgro, 16

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2005


    I read this book two years ago, my senior year in high school and I can still remember how much of an impression this book made on me. This book made me think about war in ways that I had never thought about before. It brought up some very good points that have made a lasting impression on me. Definently read this book!

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