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Main page » Black Hole » JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN by Dalton Trumbo

JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN by Dalton Trumbo


The book has a weird political history. Written in 1938 when pacifism was anathema to the American left and most of the center, it went to the printers in the spring of 1939 and was published on September third—ten days after the Nazi-Soviet pact, two days after the start of World War II.
      Shortly thereafter, on the recommendation of Mr. Joseph Wharton Lippincott (who felt it would stimulate sales), serial rights were sold to The Daily Worker of New York City. For months thereafter the book was a rally point for the left.
      After Pearl Harbor its subject matter seemed as inappropriate to the times as the shriek of bagpipes. Mr. Paul Blanshard, speaking of army censorship in The Right to Read (1955) says, "A few pro-Axis foreign-language magazines had been banned, as well as three books, including Dalton Trumbo's pacifist novel Johnny Get Your Gun, produced during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact."

Is it possible for anything to resist change, even a mere commodity that can be
bought, buried, banned, damned, praised, or ignored for all the wrong reasons? Probably
not. Johnny held a different meaning for three different wars. Its present meaning is what
each reader conceives it to be, and each reader is gloriously different from every other
reader, and each is also changing.
     I've let it remain as it was to see what it is.
     Los Angeles March 25, 1959




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