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Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut

Jailbird (1979)

by Kurt Vonnegut

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,388152,407 (3.73)23



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English (14)  Finnish (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
This was a bit of a letdown of a book. It started off strong and then kind of went off the wire. Overall, I did not feel that it was even close to being as impressive as some of the other Vonnegut novels that I have read. For this reason, I only give it two stars. I don't recommend it. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 21, 2018 |
This was definitely not my favorite Vonnegut book, but I've never read a Vonnegut story that I didn't enjoy. I prefer his more off-the-wall stuff, and most of this book was pretty grounded in reality with the exception of the exaggerated corporation known as RAMJAC. Like most of his books, it starts out a lot like looking at a bunch of puzzle pieces without knowing what kind of picture it's supposed to make, and part of the enjoyment is watching that picture come together. ( )
  cvalin | Jan 24, 2016 |
A good satire of politics and corporations. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
I began reading this book just after finishing Anna Karenina and I am glad I did. It was essentially everything Anna Karenina was not (in a good way).

The prose was classic Vonnegut, light, fast paced and strangely hilarious. I look at Vonnegut as many look upon their grandfathers. There are the same corny jokes you've come to expect and despite their corniness you can't help but laugh and be pleased with them.

Jailbird was particularly interesting and at the same time confusing for me. The tale gets wrapped up in just as many historical events as it does fictional and there is also the mention and inclusion of many notable figures from the past 100 or so years.

In the end it doesn't matter where fact and fiction cross or where they diverge. The book was fun and seemingly lighthearted and like Vonnegut always does he make some serious points.

Here is a quote, that given our current economic crisis seems perfect:

"The economy is a thoughtless weather system-- and nothing more. Some joke on the people, to give them such a thing."

I think we are slowly realizing that we are the butt of this joke ( )
1 vote dtn620 | Sep 22, 2013 |
Jailbird begins as a story about a man who has been jailed for having a very insignificant part in the Watergate scandal. Because of this, he is housed in a jail for white collar criminals near Atlanta, Georgia. The story traces his past beginning with his childhood as the son of two servants for the wealthy McCone family and continues on to tell about his life as a Harvard student and role in the HUAC hearings among other things.

I found the book to be characteristic of Vonnegut in that it is filled with his trademark wit and dark humor. The reader wants to root for the protagonist to find some sort of fulfillment in life in a world that Vonnegut portrays as being very silly and senseless. Through humorous portrayals of the US government and corporations, Vonnegut provides a scathing mockery of the US economic system and how inhuman we all become within it.

I liked this book even though I doubt that Vonnegut and I would agree on a lot of things politically. Regardless of how you feel about the American version of the capitalist system, you have to admit that at many times Vonnegut does point out some of the absurdities of it. Likewise, as I previously mentioned, he does write in such a way as to make you want to root for the protagonist and hope that he gets some sort of justice in his life even though, after comparisons are frequently made to Sacco and Vanzetti, that this isn't likely to happen for him. ( )
2 vote fuzzy_patters | Aug 19, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Jailbird is KV's surrealistic yet stunningly pertinent
account of the part he played, under the alias of Walter F. Starbuck, as the least significant—and hitherto entirely unknown—conspirator in the villainies of Watergate. No, it isn't. It's a love-affair with language and ideas.
added by KayCliff | editThe Indexer, John A. Gordon (Aug 5, 1980)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kurt Vonnegutprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bacon, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Benjamin D. Hitz, Close friend of my youth, Best man at my wedding. Ben, you used to tell me about Wonderful books you had just read, And then I would imagine that I Had read them, too. You read nothing but the best, Ben, While I studied chemistry. Long time no see.
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Yes -- Kilgore Trout is back again. (Prologue)
Life goes on, yes -- and a fool and his self-respect are soon parted.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385333900, Paperback)

Jailbird takes us into a fractured and comic, pure Vonnegut world of high crimes and misdemeanors in government—and in the heart. This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate’s least known co-conspirator. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:00 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate's least known co-conspirator.

» see all 3 descriptions

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