Johnny Got His Gun
Johnny Got His Gun is often called one of the most shocking war books ever written. It was written by Dalton Trumbo and published one week after Germany invaded Poland on the first of September 1939. It is not only a powerful anti-war document, it is also an example of an overwhelming and magnificent imagination.
On the last day of the First World War, Joe Bonham is completely shot up. Because the medics can get him out on time, and the doctors present have time on their hands, they can experiment freely on the remains of the young soldier, he stays alive. Without legs, arms, ears, eyes, nose and mouth, but with his brains intact, and still capable of normal thought. The only means of communicating that is left available to him is kicking his head on his pillow and producing morse code. These 'silent words' are eventually understood by his nurse. "What do you want?", she asks of him. "To be part of the outside world," he replies. The young soldier shows himself as a living dead, as thinking dead, in response to the question of whether there is something worthy dying for. The answer he receives is of a fierce cruelty.