Vonnegut tackles Nazism and World War II (in which he was a POW) obliquely here, as opposed to the more personal account to come in Slaughterhouse Five. This book is written as a first person memoir by the fictional Howard W. Campbell, Jr., who claims to have been an American spy posing as an infamous Nazi propagandist during the war. Campbell is a chilling character, unsure himself exactly which side he was serving, and not seeming to care a great deal either way. He lost his wife in the war and with her his entire reason to live. All sorts of uncomfortable existential issues are raised, with no satisfactory answers, and no happy ending. It is a wonderful but dark book, mercifully short.
In an introduction added to the book after its initial release, Vonnegut writes, "This is the only story of mine whose moral I know...We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be...There's another clear moral to this tale...When you're dead, you're dead. And yet another moral...Make love when you can. It's good for you."
And from Campbell's memoir:
I had hoped (as a propagandist) to be merely ludicrous, but this is a hard world to be ludicrous in, with so many human beings so reluctant to laugh, so incapable of thought, so eager to believe and snarl and hate. So many people wanted to believe me!
Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.8.1/10