MULTIMEDIA

VIDEO
Authors@Google talk with slides on
YouTube

ONLINE
How Jane Vonnegut Made Kurt Vonnegut a Writer, in
The New Yorker

AUDIO
Interview with Ira Flatow on NPR
Science Friday

AUDIO
Interview with Joe Donahue on
WAMC Roundtable

AUDIO
Podcast of interview with Mark Lynch on
WICN Inquiry

SLIDESHOW
Slideshow essay about the GE sources of early Vonnegut stories at FSG
Work in Progress

AUDIO
Podcast of interview with Martha Frankel at
Woodstock Writers Radio

Out now: The Brothers Vonnegut

In the late 1940s, Kurt Vonnegut took a job in the PR department at General Electric in Schenectady, NY, where his older brother, Bernard, was a leading scientist in the Research Lab. Bernard had just invented a method of seeding clouds to make rain. After surviving the fire bombing of Dresden, Kurt dreamt of being a novelist, but he kept that secret, writing at night and on weekends while cranking out zippy press releases by day. But he soon found himself drawn into the ethical dilemmas being faced by his brother, as Bernard's new invention was taken up by a military eager to get its hands on a new super weapon.

As Bernard began to have misgivings about the use of his inventions for harm, Kurt started writing a new kind of story, depicting scientists grappling with moral questions and fantastic inventions gone awry. Set against the backdrop of atomic anxiety, would-be weather warriors, and the dawn of the digital world, The Brothers Vonnegut melds biography with cultural history to tell a fascinating story of two ambitious men grappling with the moral dilemmas of their age, revealing how the desire to control the natural world shaped one of our most inventive novelists.

The Brothers Vonnegut is a gem. Strand has unearthed a little-known, complex story about science and politics that touches on big questions about ethics and progress, and she delivers it with an infectious and unabashed exuberance. Her writing crackles on the page.”
—The San Francisco Chronicle

“The elements of this fascinating dual life of the Vonnegut brothers–the scientist, Bernard, and the novelist, younger brother Kurt–are as interlinked as those in one of the latter's fictions. . . This is superb, provocative, and crystal-clear narrative nonfiction, supplying a unique angle on the major issues that Bernard faced privately and Kurt confronted in his writing.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“Fascinating . . . the result of meticulous scholarship.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Strand's thoughtful history, drawn from abundant archival sources, recounts the brothers' repeated frustrations and disillusion as they confronted, in their own ways, the unsettling ethical questions of their time. An engaging yet disquieting portrait of postwar America through the eyes of a pair of brothers who accomplished great things in different fields.”
—Kirkus

“Strand has written that rare scholarly work that doesn't read like one at all. The overall impression is of a novel, not a history, and—although it's evident that her research was exhaustive—Strand tends to include only those thematically relevant events that drive the plot forward . . . This title is ripe for adaptation into a quirky, independent film.”
—Library Journal

“Strand tells two good stories, the rise and fall of the science of weather modification and the development of Kurt Vonnegut as a writer . . . This engaging book raises many still-relevant questions about the uses of technology and nature.”
—Publishers Weekly


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