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Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American lit-erature and one of the funniest—and most celebrated—novels of all time. In recent years it has been named to “best novels” lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer. Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved. Since its publication in 1961, no novel has matched Catch-22’s intensity and brilliance in depicting the brutal insanity of war. This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction by Christopher Buckley; personal essays on the genesis of the novel by the author; a wealth of critical responses and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos from Joseph Heller’s personal archive; and a selection of advertisements from the original publishing campaign that helped turn Catch-22 into a cultural phenomenon. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451632965
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/26/2010
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 19,808
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time, and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in 1999.
Christopher Buckley is a novelist, essayist, humorist, critic, magazine editor and memoirist. His books have been translated into sixteen foreign languages. He worked as a merchant seaman and White House speechwriter. He has written for many newspapers and magazines and has lectured in over seventy cities around the world. He was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor and the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence.

Date of Birth:

May 1, 1923

Date of Death:

December 12, 1999

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York

Place of Death:

East Hampton, New York


New York University, B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa, 1948<br> Columbia University, M.A., 1949

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Catch-22 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 517 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not going to talk about the content of the book. People have covered that. The NookBook of Catch-22 was generated from a scanned manuscript and then insufficiently copyedited. To pick one example, words that begin with "Li" are frequently rendered with a "U" instead; so, say, "Lip" becomes "Up." It happened often enough to be distracting. Considering we're asked to pay MORE than the paperback price for the NookBook, and we can't return the NookBook for being shoddy, this is unacceptable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I think of the term "war story," I tend to think of the long grueling battles, the wounded dying in the mud, or the sounds of guns blasting in the distance. However, in Joseph Heller's great novel, Catch-22, the most significant and my favorite scenes are ones not on the battlefield; they are the ones at camp. The ingenious (yet sometimes confusing) plot is centered around the main character in this novel, Yossarian, who has seen the inhumane and thoughtless actions of his superiors during the second half of WWII. He is an air force pilot stationed in the Mediterranean Sea conducting bombing raids that seem to never end. After enduring one mission after another, he stumbles on a way to be discharged from service if he is deemed insane. His never-ending search to get out of the military and his conversations with his friend Nately are humorous and entertaining. However, when Yossarian first claims to be "insane," he proves to the doctors that he truly IS sane because anyone who is really sane would want to be discharged. This confusing paradox, or circular reasoning, is Catch-22. Catch-22 is described in many other ways, mostly in other nearly incomprehensible paradoxes that "catches" its subject in its illogic, and always allows the government complete control over the pilots' lives. The theme of total power to the government can also be found in some other side stories (and flashbacks that happen at unspecified times) throughout the novel, such as when Officer Minderbinder can make himself immense amounts of cash just by trading amongst the companies he himself owns. You find yourself rooting for the soldiers, and wonder why they must die. I thought Yossarian's struggles with the law Catch-22 as amusing as no matter where you went, or which way, the government always ended up on top. And as the war goes on, Yossarian witnesses more tragedies among his men- murder, death, rape, and disease. When he is arrested in the streets of Rome, he is given a choice; Stay in the Air Force, or be honorably discharged. But there's a cache, if he is discharged, his men in his squadron must fly another eighty missions. Will Yossarian be tempted to regain a life of his own, and yet endanger the lives of his own men? Or will he continue to fly under the rule of Catch-22? Although the plot is hard to comprehend at first, is you persevere through the confusing flashbacks and characters whose names you forget, it will all make sense in the end.
Way_of_the_Carl More than 1 year ago
Catch 22 is a classic novel that comes around every ten years or so that delivers a story so out of the ordinary and yet so real that everyone who loves to read should pick this title up.
Not only did this book create a phrase that has lasted the ages it makes you think what could have been if...Even though thinking this way will only get you in trouble because of the Catch 22 you find yourself in.
Joseph Heller brings to the table a dainty group of soldiers who believe someone is trying to kill them and that they are going to die, even though they don't want to. The dialog back and forth is outrageous and hilarious, making one wonder how would I react if I was stuck in the same situation.
I found this classic easy to read and understand, rooting for the soldiers to come back home asking myself "Why do they have to die?", even if they don't.
You'll love Heller's creation of a wayside group of individuals vying to survive in a outfit of misfits who can't seem to get along. He delivers solid dialog and great storytelling, running the reader through the muck of unmotivated soldiers all trying their hardest to survive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story had an incredible affect on me. It is incredibly funny, yet very sad in parts. Especially when you do finally find out what happened to the gunner, Snowden, in the mission to Avignon or when Yossarian walks through Rome.
The ideas concerning the ridiculuous nature of war are as topical now as they were in the 1960s. Actually, of course, Joseph Heller's presentation of the insanity around him predated the Vietnam War, and I wasn't around at that time to truly judge the feeling then.
The dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny at times, as is the juxtapostion of events, as for example when Clevinger complains of confusing cause-and-effect in staring at the bomb-line on the map south of Bologna, willing the line to move itself and for the squadron to not have to fly the mission. In fact, the whole chapter in which this incident occurs, "Bologna" was the funniest in the book for me, with the rain beating down, and the mission continually cancelled, Chief Whitehalfoat stealing a jeep to drive home, and Yossarian telling his pilot to turn around. And then, of course, Bologna was a milk-run; no glue gun there.
Anyone who has not read this book and is mystified by what is going on at the moment and since 2003 should read this book. It's not going to change the world, As K S Michaels has for me, but it is food for thought.
Erin0 More than 1 year ago
I'm putting this on my bookshelf right next to "Atlas Shrugged." This book falls under the category of a book everyone should read, everyone should understand, and certainly not a book you want anyone to know you read or understood. This book is painfully applicable to today. It is a classic example of how government and companies are run. Sadly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What do you think of when you hear "war story"? Is it Guns! Giant Battles! War Hero's! Victory!? That wasn't what Joseph Heller was thinking when was writing the classic Catch-22. Instead of the focus of the book being on battles, some of the best (and funniest) parts of the entire book happen when everybody is in camp thinking about going into battle. One of the topics that keeps on being brought up is Catch-22. This is a rule that states a pilot can be grounded if he tells a doctor that he is mentally unstable. But here's the catch: if a pilot asks to get out of combat duty, he is clearly sane. Only a sane person would want to avoid danger, (if a doctor grounds a "sane person" he will be court marshaled). This leads to several humorous circular arguments. One of the best parts of the book is how Heller tells the story. The story isn't only told through the eyes of the main character. Most of the chapters talk about different characters. Even some of the most minor characters are very well developed because of this. Out of all of the characters, my favorite is Major Major Major Major. His first middle and last name is Major, and he just happens to be a major. I also feel like Major Major (how his name is abbreviated in the book) is the most well developed secondary character. He has a long chapter dedicated to his entire life. This is the funniest part of the book. His dad is paid not to grow alfalfa, because there was a surplus of it at the time. Major Major's father calculated how much he got paid not to grow alfalfa, so he bought more land to get more money by not growing anything. My favorite part of the book is that it feels like all the characters are real people in an actual war, and not stereotypical war heroes. Another unique aspect of this book is Heller's writing style. Heller is very astute, It felt like he never had a hard time saying exactly what he wanted to say. Also, it seemed like Heller was telling a true story, like when your grandfather tells you a war story, and you know a lot of it is exaggerated. Catch-22 is also nonlinear. About halfway through the book it goes back to explain how the protagonist (Yossarian) got to be where he was. Yossarian seems like he's his own worst enemy. He works himself up until he seems like a crazy paranoid person, but that might just be because he is in the middle of a war, and every mission might be his last. Another reason why I love this book is that it feels like Yossarian's troubles are never going to end. The commander keeps on increasing the number of missions a pilot has to fly before he can go home. Say a pilot finishes his missions, he doesn't get sent home, he has to wait at camp until the number of missions increases. Whenever a character nicknamed Hungry Joe finishes all of the missions, he screams in his sleep and is very edgy when he is awake. When he still has missions to fly he is fine. So everyone can tell if they have to fly more missions depending on Hungry Joe's mood. In the end, Catch-22 is one of the best books ever written, It even added a new phrase to the English dictionary, and you should read it no matter how old you are.
kriskitty23 More than 1 year ago
This is by far my favorite book of all time. I have read it 4 times already and am reading it again. Catch-22 is not a book for the casual reader, but more for a reader that will look beneath the surface to see what the writer is actually trying to say. The brilliance with which Heller writes is beyond words. Through his many different scenarios, Heller conveys to the reader the insanity that is present within war situations. Yossarian is often referred to as the crazy one and in a normal social structure he may be...but in the world of Catch-22 where everything seems to be upside down and backwards, he is the only sane one there. The very definition of Catch-22 is insanity, as the men can only be sent home if they are deemed too crazy to fly, but can't be sent home for being too crazy, because they would HAVE to be crazy to want to fly missions. Once you pick up on the theme(s) of the novel, you will be able to see the humor in the many different situations, even within the characters names themselves. (My favorite being Col. Sheiskopf) I definitely would recommend this book, but take your time reading it...
MSF0 More than 1 year ago
This is a great book detailing the absurdity of the bureaucracy that large institutions such as the military. This absurdity often leads to many funny moments in the novel, but at the same time, it the book is realistic. It depicts something that we see in everyday life, something that we experience quite often. If you are looking to find a book that is both entertaining and pertinent, you should look into Catch 22.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Managing to retain reason in insanity, Catch-22 made me both grin and sadden. A work of art that has to be enjoyed slowly and savoringly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a funny book. Great for those who like dark humor and satires.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Catch 22 is widely known as an American classic, and there is good reason for that. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller offers everything that you have ever wanted in a book and does it in a very unique and interesting style. This is a prime example of a historical satire. The book was written non-chronologically, and events are often referenced and though about by many different characters at many different times. As a satirical writer, Heller uses Catch 22 to point of what's wrong with the world. Heller uses situations and characters to make a statement on things such as death, love, sex, war, and bureaucracy. Joseph Heller was part of the U.S. Army Air Corps and he was shipped to Italy where he served as a bombardier. He flew 60 combat missions. After the war he studied English at USC and NYU. He started writing it in 1953, but did not finish it until 1961. Heller uses his experiences in the army to help craft his story. Catch 22 follows John Yossarian who is also a bombardier in the army. Yossarian is absolutely frightened of death, and will do anything to avoid flying the required amount of missions, which keep going up every time he reaches the required amount. The book follows Yossarian's fight against flying his missions, but there's a catch. Catch 22, of course. Catch 22 is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. It's when the only way you can get out of a situation is by never being in the situation in the first place. Catch 22 is a fantastic book for people who enjoy humor and logic. It is funny but you really have to pay attention or you might miss Heller's genius. I found that lots of the small things in the book end up playing a really big role in the end. I found the book incredibly interesting and I really related and felt for some of the characters. It really made a big impact with me. I was so eager to get to the end because I knew it would be brilliant (and it was) but once I got there, I was wished there was more. I highly recommend Catch 22 to anyone.
pod49 More than 1 year ago
Hidden underneath the parades and utterances of manipulative politicians there's always a real war with real people that get killed or have their lives and the lives of those who love them altered by the war. Heller in this novel portrayed war as satire. No flag waving just a good look at how war can sometimes become dysfunctional because wars are fought by bureaucracies. And sometimes,especially in this novel, bureauracies develop objectives that are different from the people who commisioned the war. Catch 22 is a law with perverted logic and is displayed in various parts of the novel: "There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle." During World War II, Heller was a member of the Army-Air Corps and flew 60 combat missions in Italy. I would make a guess that had he not flown those missions, he might have written a different novel where the airmen were more heroic - more ra ra. Heller is not the type of writer who churns out clever novels that look like a book by the numbers but sell well because people like the comfort of the same old thing. He said what he had to say and that was pretty much it. He continued writing throughout his life but he never duplicated or exceeded what he did with Catch 22. I would recommend that every young person read Catch 22. It certainly helped to me rethink my previous support of the Vietnam War.
tmc73 More than 1 year ago
I have read hundreds of books but this is the only one that had me physically laughing out loud. Pure enjoyment!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When people think of America in World War II, they think of a brave nation defending us from the evils of the Axis powers. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller takes a far different approach. It is a historical fiction book told in third person limited that has a certain flare that will pull the reader right into the story. Yossarian is an American bombardier stationed in Pianosa, Italy during World War II a colorful character whose main goal in life is to stay alive. Yossarian and his friends Milo, Orr, Nately, Dunbar, McWatt and several other colorful beings are involved in many adventures, some comical and edgy, others tragic and horrifying. Throughout the course of the book the horrors of war reveal themselves to Yossarian leading to his refusal to fly any more missions. This rebelian carries to his conflict with Colonel Carthcart who forces Yossarian to make the decision: go home alive and promote the war, or get a court marshal. This novel brought out a wide array of emotions in me. I laughed, cried, and had to think about the meaning and purpose of the story. The point of a historical fiction is to bring the reader into the time, place, and mindset as if he or she was actually there. Although I was not born and have nothing to compare it with, I feel that this novel did its duty as a historical fiction in an exceptional way. There is something for everyone in Catch-22: humor, history, well developed characters, a complex story line, and heartbreaking, thoughtful moments as well. As with most books there are dead spots, moments that you want to skip through to get to the main point. I also felt that the rising action and climax came too late in the novel but when they came they came with a bang. This book will continue to be read in ages to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joseph Heller was a genius in delivering such a masterpiece to his fellow countrymen. The style, and proses are evocative. Heller keeps the plot, and storyline right above the surface of the pages. He has you learning of one character make reference to one you will learn of later in the book, or one you just passed. The satire is fulsome, and majestically original. The book refreshes the reader in a way very few books can. It is disconcerting when one realizes this is one of a kind. Authors should take a stab at further developing Mr. Heller's gift.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Darkly comic, with some of the funniest lines ever put on paper. Chapters of note: 'The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice' and 'Nurse Ducket.' A must read. One of the greatest books ever written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has swearing in it and bad thing that children should not read and i'm 13 and half and i'm reading book at night if you agree with me reply to halo master chief123
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I love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
preeeech it anynonmysous! i agree wit hte complaints that the nokebook is fmade awful
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