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A satirical historical novel by Joseph Heller

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A Darkly Humorous Look At War

  • May 23, 2010

Catch-22 is a hilarious satire set in wartime.  The main character, Yossarian, is a bombardier who is terrified he’ll be killed every time he goes out on a mission.  Everyone thinks he’s insane, but he is arguably the most sane character in this book.  All he sees is the futility of war.  Surprisingly, he does not approve of people in high places gambling with his life. 

Heller’s style here is very unique; I haven’t read anything like it before.  The flow of the story is also interesting.  He makes some repetitions throughout the book, and events are not in chronological order.  When I first read it, though I thoroughly enjoyed his sense of humor, it felt like everything in it occurred randomly.  After having read it two or three times, I noticed a pattern that wasn’t obvious (at least to me) at first.  I visualize it as a woven spiral/circle, with individual “threads” that come up and disappear and then reappear again.  He picks up a thread, advances it a little, picks up another and another, and then the first thread comes up again and gets developed some more. 

Everyone is different; if you get dizzy easily or get frustrated trying to keep track of different “threads”, then perhaps you should pass this one up.  If you can take it easy and just enjoy a good ride, I recommend you go for it!  This is one of the funniest and yet most depressing books I’ve ever read.  It's definitely one of my favorites.                

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August 10, 2010
Great review. As a retired Army officer I loved the book. There are real times when the army left one in a catch-22!
May 26, 2010
I've always wanted to read this book but never got around to it. Thanks for the review! I think I might finally pick this book up now.
More Catch-22 (book) reviews
review by . September 05, 2008
Heller's classic is a surreal and sprawling story of immoral naivety and moral complexity. Ostensibly about the absurdity of World War II combat, Heller examines issues of group think and individual obligation with surprising philosophical clarity.    The Catch-22 that Yossarian, the erstwhile hero of our story, encounters maddeningly and repeatedly is any insoluble contradiction, expressed in his case in this infinite loop:     A. Yossarian realizes that …
review by . June 13, 2010
When I moved to the US and wanted to read more American literature, the novel that people recommended to me most often was not, as I had expected, Moby Dick (which few seemed to have read) but Catch-22. Now I have finally got around to reading it and (unlike with Moby Dick) was not disappointed.    The anti-hero, the anti-war sentiment and the black humor are all very characteristic of the 60s, especially 60s Britain, so it is not surprising that the novel was popular there before …
review by . June 08, 2010
This is Joseph Heller's novel about World War Two, highlighting the absurd nature of organized a "civilized" conflict.  It features a protagonist who refuses to go on missions because he believes people are "trying to kill him", an altruistic colonel who demands valor from his men as he lounges at camp, and an entrepreneur who somehow can buy eggs for 5 cents apiece and sell them for 3 at a profit (?!) (read to find out about this one).      This …
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
Really great satire! It's a hilarious and completely engaging read!
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Okay because of the story and the original word Heller conjured for the dictionary, but too modern. why do modern authors (since about the fifties) think that vulgarity is a required element in a story?
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
slow at the start, but keep reading!
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
heller writes well and gets his characters so involved in military snafus they cannot get out of trouble without getting into more trouble to start with
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
I LOVE the characters in this book
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Funny, just plain funny
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
One of the most amazing books I've ever read.
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About this book


Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the twentieth century. It has a distinctive non-chronological style where events are described from different characters' points of view and out of sequence so that the time line develops along with the plot.

The novel follows Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier, and a number of other characters. Most events occur while the airmen of the fictional Fighting 256th (or "two to the fighting eighth power") Squadron are based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea west of Italy.
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ISBN-10: 0684833395
ISBN-13: 978-0684833392
Author: Joseph Heller
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Polls with this book
1984 (British first edition)



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