Put the subject of war into the hands of a politician, and it invariably becomes a matter of pride and honor. This is fair to some extent, but war encapsulates far more than such lofty virtues. War is also horror the likes of which few will comprehend.
Novelists have done well to capture the inhumanity of war in the past. Heller’s Catch-22 explores the insanity and bureaucracy intrinsic to modern armed conflict. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five frames PTSD in the macabre light it deserves. Steinbeck’s The Moon Is Down deals with the lives of civilians caught in the crossfire. And Tolstoy’s War and Peace must touch on some very poignant themes as well, but we haven’t read it because we keep our only copy in the trunk of our car for better traction in the wintertime.
But no novel about war has resonated with us quite so greatly as Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun. It tells the story of Joe Bonham in the wake of his having every limb and sense robbed of him by the utter madness of World War I. Controversial for its time, the book eventually earned its author the wrong kind of attention from the FBI. The 1971 film of the same name that Trumbo also directed became a cult classic, although most people only know it for its prominent role in Metallica’s music video for “One.”
If you’re a fan of Trumbo’s great American novel and film and espouse their message, or would simply like to wear a T-shirt that only political mavens and metal fans will understand, then baby, have we ever got you covered.