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Mother Night – Kurt Vonnegut

October 18, 2009

13. Read 101 books (21/101) (more info)

Rating ****1/2

(Same review as posted at

I picked up Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut for The Good Book Club’s first discussion. BIG thank you to them for picking this book! I don’t know that I would have read it otherwise and I loved it! The story so captivating you can’t put it down and the characters are so real that you forget you’re reading fiction.

Mother Night is the autobiography of Howard W Campbell, Jr, a Nazi war criminal writing his story from his cell in Israel. Howard was the English speaking propagandist for the Nazis during WWII. However, Howard claims he didn’t believe the things he was saying. He claims to have been an American spy. But can someone really be both? Can you spread the message he did and encourage the terrible things as he so passionately pretended to and still claim to not believe in the cause? Can you be two very different minds?

Vonnegut writes in the introduction that “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be”. This is one of my favorite literary quotes. The book contained so many great quotes that I’ll have to take some time to pick out my favorites before the discussion tonight.

The story is dark, humorous, touching and gut-wrenching. The idea that those who encourage and spread hate are just as guilty of the deaths this brings as those who hold the guns is so important that I’m baffled that I wasn’t required to read this in one of my classes in either high school or college.

I’m very, very highly recommending this book. I’m even making Shane give it  try. I’m looking forward to adding more Vonnegut to my to-read list!

* Counts as my M book for the A-Z Book Challenge.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2009 10:57 pm

    Excellent review Tara! For my first taste of Vonnegut this did not disappoint. On to Slaughter House 5. Great discussion tonight.

    • taraSG permalink
      October 19, 2009 3:17 am

      Thanks! I had only read Galapagos and that was probably 6 years ago. I’m definitely going to have to pick up Slaughter House 5 :)

      Great discussion! I’m really looking forward to the next one. Another new book/author for me!

  2. opicana permalink
    October 20, 2009 1:45 pm

    I recently read Slaughter House Five, and was completely unimpressed. Perhaps I started with the wrong Vonnegut, maybe I will try this one.

    • taraSG permalink
      October 20, 2009 1:51 pm

      I you have to be in the right mood for these books. I’ve never read Slaughter House Five so I’m not sure if you didn’t like one if you’ll like the other.

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