Comparing covers: Johnny got his gun

The last Weekly Geeks post made me think of this book. At the Geeks site they were talking about “To kill a Mockingbird” and what other books we have read that influenced our views of the world and society. I’ve never read “To kill a Mockingbird”, but the question about influential books immediately made me think of “Johnny got his gun” by Dalton Trumbo.

Johnny Got His Gun is a book everybody should read. It is now as up-to-date as ever, even though it came out at the beginning of WWII and talks about WWI. I read it many years ago and will never read it again. That won’t be necessary anyway because once you read it you will never forget it again. If you don’t know it, I strongly urge you to go and read it. It is horrifying and intense and will leave a huge impact. No summer read for certain!

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I like the two English covers, especially the second one. The two German ones, I’m not sure. The bottom left one is the one on the copy I own so I am used to the image now, but I find it gives away a bit too much.

The German title is ok. It means “Johnny goes to war” so it is just an adaptation of the original one. About the sub-line “Süss und ehrenvoll” (sweet and honourable) – no idea where that came from. Obviously they thought they have to improve the title for some reason. Totally unnecessary in my opinion.

Have you read “Johnny got his gun” and how did you find it?

9 Comments Write a comment

  1. Oh I like the German covers a lot better! A LOT better! The English ones look boring and I would probably never pick the book up. I think Metallica used this book for their One video. Maybe that’s why I’m attached to the German covers.

    The book that was unforgettable to me is Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I would never read that book again–ever! It was absolutely unforgettable though, and I’m glad it was assigned for class. Very intense and very hard to read (the movie didn’t do the book justice at all).


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  3. Carin, yes, One is about this book. I have never heard of Sophie’s choice. I’ll have to go and look it up.

    Judith, the book is absolutely awesome. I highly recommend it.
    As a matter of fact, yes, we do use “ziehen” fur pulling a gun, but I wouldn’t connect those two words. “In den Krieg ziehen” just means going to war, I never made a connection with the verb as in “eine Pistole ziehen”.
    Interesting thought, though.


  4. Judith, is there a similar verb in Dutch?

    I find these cover posts really interesting. It makes me wonder how we are different in what we see and if it’s a continental/country thing. I feel like I often prefer the European covers, but that’s not always the case. I like checking the French covers on The Book on the Hill now too. I often prefer the UK covers to the US ones too. I wonder why that is?!!


  5. There is a similar verb, it’s trekken, meanly pull. Pull a trigger, but also pull to a different country (which is not a meaning you have in English).

    I often like the European covers better. I recently read a book that had an (American) cover that I’m pretty sure wouldn’t sell well in the Netherlands (no one would pick it up in the book shop – too boring).
    Leeswammes (Judith)’s last post ..It’s Monday! What Are You Reading


  6. Judith, trekken as in Star Trek? There you have it in English!

    I often like UK covers best. A reason why we don’t like US covers that much might be that the US publishers often take their readers for idiots and create covers for the lowest common denominator.
    And not ony covers but even titles. Just think of HP and the sorcerer’s stone. That made me so mad! How can a publisher assume that the word philosopher would be too difficult to understand. Philosopher, for heaven’s sake!


  7. Oh, God, no, now that you mentiond it. You wouldn’t want to be seen with one in public. They are dangerous and put weird ideas into people’s heads, lol.
    Whereas sorcerers are perfectly ok….


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