This month’s feature is perhaps the greatest anti-war novel yet written, Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun. We have a very good hardcover copy of the 10th printing from 1970 that includes an addendum to the author’s introduction concerning the Vietnam War.
The Saturday Review said this book “can never be forgotten by anyone who ever reads it.” I have to agree. I first read a small paperback version that a friend had given me with the demand, “you have to read this book.” Of course, we hear that all the time, and quite often, after dutifully slogging through a few dozen pages, we realize no, no we really don’t. But in the case of Trumbo’s masterpiece, my friend was absolutely right.
Told entirely from the point of view of a wounded soldier from a hospital bed, the story recounts his life as he, and we along with him, slowly discover the full extent of what his war has wrought. To say any more would rob you of one of the most powerful reading experiences you could have.
I will say that this book should be required reading for anyone thinking about setting out to experience the glory of war, for anyone pushing their children to “be a hero,” and in our current political climate, for anyone beating the war drum once again this time with Iran in the gun sights. This book will, at the very least, give pause to such ideas.