Vonnegut writes in his own voice, introducing his experience of the firebombing of Dresden, in eastern Germany, during World War II while he was a prisoner of war and his attempt for many years to complete a book on the subject.
Around 1964, Vonnegut takes his young daughter and her friend with him to visit Bernhard V. O’Hare, an old war buddy, in Pennsylvania. He meets Mary O’Hare, who is disgusted that Vonnegut will portray himself and his fellow soldiers as manly heroes rather than the “babies” they were. With his right hand raised, Vonnegut vows not to glorify war.
Still keeping his promise, Vonnegut lands a contract to write three books about the bombing of Dresden of which Slaughterhouse-Five is to be the first. It is so short and jumbled, he explains because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre.