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Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 (1961)

by Joseph Heller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Catch-22 (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
28,05735834 (4.13)743
Recently added byJay-Freeman, thomax, middlemarchhare, karilucia, Foxwoodafh, SrimantaMitra, private library
Legacy LibrariesJack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath
  1. 455
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (kiwiflowa, WisePolyphemos)
  2. 196
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (InvisiblerMan)
  3. 70
    Closing Time by Joseph Heller (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Joseph Heller's sequel to "Catch-22" set in the early 1990s.
  4. 114
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (rosylibrarian)
  5. 126
    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (kittycatpurr)
  6. 62
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (wvlibrarydude)
    wvlibrarydude: Satire and humor that will split your gut. Read if you want to laugh at humanity.
  7. 40
    In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War by Tobias Wolff (paulkid)
    paulkid: Me, I think that true stories are the most absurd. For me, "In Pharaoh's Army" may not be as funny as "Catch-22", but it's close and definitely has made me consider my own serious outlook on life a little less, well, seriously. See if you agree.
  8. 52
    Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger (girlunderglass)
    girlunderglass: Both stories about war, plus Heller owes much to Salinger in terms of authorial voice (wit, vernacular language, goddamits, sense of humor)
  9. 52
    The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hašek (roby72)
  10. 20
    King Rat by James Clavell (John_Vaughan)
  11. 31
    The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts by Louis de Bernières (Pedrolina)
    Pedrolina: Both books take on the slightly surreal side to war, but with serious consequences nonetheless.
  12. 31
    Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller by Tracy Daugherty (Imprinted)
    Imprinted: This biography includes a lengthy section on the writing and publishing of Catch-22, the tragicomic 1961 novel that originated in Heller’s experience as a World War II bombardier
  13. 31
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (gbill)
  14. 10
    The Bamboo Bed by William Eastlake (rickyrickyricky)
    rickyrickyricky: A genuine equal to Catch-22 written for the Vietnam age. Not just a cheap attempt to imitate Heller's talent-slash-luck, Eastlake may well have surpassed his masterpiece with this long-last classic. Read alongside Dispatches to maximize pleasure; then continue your newfound, inevitable addiction to all things Eastlake, because he really is that good--and he really is that inexplicably, undeservably unknown.… (more)
  15. 10
    And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat (ShaneTierney)
  16. 11
    Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (fundevogel)
  17. 11
    Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho (chrissybob)
    chrissybob: Similar views on mental health
  18. 11
    Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg by Derek Swannson (jasbro)
  19. 11
    War Story by Derek Robinson (Polaris-)
  20. 13
    The House of God by Samuel Shem (mcenroeucsb)

(see all 22 recommendations)

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1940s (91)
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» See also 743 mentions

English (342)  Swedish (4)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (2)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Russian (1)  All languages (358)
Showing 1-5 of 342 (next | show all)
The book Catch-22 takes place during the closing months of WWII, in an American bomb squadron on an island off of the west coast of Italy. The main character, a bombardier named Yossarian, is trying to be grounded instead of flying more missions for the Air Force by declaring himself insane. He technically is, for flying at all, but he can’t be grounded because of the infamous “Catch-22,” a paradox which specifies that if one is crazy, “All they have to do is ask to be grounded; and as soon as they knew they did, they would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.” Yossarian and his buddies have their misadventures flying around Mediterranean and trying their best to survive the war. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is a historical fiction novel about survival and obedience, and reveals that when faced with a life or death scenario, humans tend to disregard responsibility or orders that they have been given. In the first half of the novel, Joseph Heller goes deeply into the character’s backstories and doesn’t seem to follow any chronological order. The second half, however, becomes an actually story and a tragic one, too. Catch-22 is one of the funniest novels I have ever read, and I love the complex yet foolish humor the characters display. On the other hand, I don’t like how depressing it gets towards the end; it borders on being just another gloomy, tragic war story. I would definitely recommend this book to another student or adult looking to enjoy themselves while learning about WWII, despite the melancholic ending. ( )
  KaiMP6 | Oct 6, 2015 |
I gave it my 100 pages, but couldn't do it. I think I see where he's going but I just cannot get into the rhythm of his writing style at all. ( )
  Victor_A_Davis | Sep 18, 2015 |
This was really hard to start with...but by the end, it's a pretty fantastic book. ( )
  allyofthedawn | Sep 12, 2015 |
“The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.”

Yossarian is an Air Force bombardier stationed during the second half of WWII on the island of Pianosa, near the Italian coast in the Mediterranean Sea. The squadron are sent on bombing runs in which it is more important for the squadron members to capture good aerial photographs of explosions than to destroy their targets. Their colonels continually raise the number of missions that they are required to fly before being sent home, so that no one is ever sent home.

Most of the story is told from Yossarian's point of view. Yossarian takes the whole war personally and is furious that his life is in constant danger through no fault of his own. He has a strong desire to live and spends a great deal of his time trying to avoid going on further missions. The catalyst seemingly seeing another airman die virtually in his arms whilst on a mission but he also sees friends die and disappear whilst colonels and generals, who take no part in combat themselves, volunteer their men for dangerous missions only to enhance their own reputations.

Everybody thinks Yossarian is crazy when he claims everyone is trying to kill him but he discovers Catch 22 means by claiming that he is insane he has proved that he is obviously sane—since any sane person would claim that he or she is insane in order to avoid flying bombing missions. Thus Catch-22 is any paradoxical, circular reasoning that catches its victim in its illogic and serves only those who have made the law allowing them do whatever they please.

Yossarian eventually refuses to fly any more missions. His commanding officers Colonels Cathcart and Korn offer him a choice. Either face a court-martial or be sent home with an honourable discharge. There is only one condition: in order to be released, he must approve of Cathcart and Korn and state his support for their policy, which requires all the men in the squadron to fly eighty missions. Yossarian realizes that to comply would be to endanger the lives of other innocent men. He chooses another way out and strives to gain control of his own life.

No I must admit that I found the first half of this novel a little perplexing as it seemed to have no real direction. Instead we were introduced to a wide assortment of seemingly unconnected characters. However, the plot seemed to coalesce in the second half as all the threads came together.

This novel was first started in 1953 and finished in '61 so in some ways is beginning to show its age and whilst parts of it did indeed make me laugh I suspect not as much as the author intended. There were a few points that were repeated more than they needed to IMHO. That said I found it one of the most original works that I've ever read and as such deserves to be regarded as a classic that should feature on many a reading list.
  PilgrimJess | Aug 11, 2015 |
One of the most famous books ever written it is equal parts fun and confusing. Jumping from here to there it examines a number of oddball characters in the army and their existence with each other.

The term Catch 22 refers to a loophole for leaving the army.

To be taken off flight duties one must be declared insane.

The only way to be declared insane is to apply for medical leave for reasons on insanity

The army says that the very fact someone is able to realise they're insane makes them completely sane thus meaning there is effectively no way out of the army.

I would only read it if you have a burning desire to see what all the fuss is about. ( )
  areadingmachine | Jul 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 342 (next | show all)
"A wild, moving, shocking, hilarious, raging, exhilarating, giant roller-coaster of a book"
added by GYKM | editNew York Herald Tribune
"the best novel to come out in years"
added by GYKM | editThe Nation
"doesn't even seem to be written; instead, it gives the impression of having been shouted onto paper.... what remains is a debris of sour jokes"
added by GYKM | editThe New Yorker
This kind of magnificent illogic whips like a mistral all through the novel, blowing both sequence and motivation into a rubble of farcical shocks and grisly surprises. Catch-22 is held together only by the inescapable fact that Joseph Heller is a superb describer of people and things... Heller's talent is impressive, but it also is undisciplined, sometimes luring him into bogs of boring repetition... but an overdose of comic non sequitur and an almost experimental formlessness are not enough to extinguish the real fire of Catch-22.
added by jjlong | editTime (Oct 27, 1961)
"Catch-22," by Joseph Heller, is not an entirely successful novel. It is not even a good novel by conventional standards. But there can be no doubt that it is the strangest novel yet written about the United States Air Force in World War II. Wildly original, brilliantly comic, brutally gruesome, it is a dazzling performance that will probably outrage nearly as many readers as it delights. In any case, it is one of the most startling first novels of the year and it may make its author famous.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times, Orville Prescott (pay site) (Oct 23, 1961)

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Heller, Josephprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, MalcolmIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckley, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ceserani, RemoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis, J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahtela, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Packer, NeilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szilágyi TiborTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There was only one catch... and that was Catch-22.

This island of Pianosa lies in the Mediterranean Sea eight miles south of Elba. It is very small and obviously could not accommodate all of the actions described. Like the setting of this novel, the characters, too, are fictitious.
To Candida Donadio, literary agent, and Robert Gottlieb, editor. Colleagues.
To my mother
and to Shirley
and my children, Erica and Ted
First words
It was love at first sight.
They had not brains enough to be introverted and repressed.
There was only one catch, and that was Catch-22.
The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.
"Sure, that's what I mean," Doc Daneeka said. "A little grease is what makes this world go round. One hand washes the other. Know what I mean? You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

Yossarian knew what he meant.

"That's not what I meant," Doc Daneeka said, as Yossarian began scratching his back.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Publisher's editors
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Book description
This is the story of Yossarian, a man trying to survive during WW2. Unable to go home because he hasnt completed enough missions he tries to get himself deemed ill which he can't do because he hasn't been sick. 

Reading books in uncomfortable situations often affect how you like and remember books. That's what happened with this book. I just got confused a lot. It was also really difficult to read on the computer for 8 straight hours. That wasn't a good plan.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684833395, Paperback)

There was a time when reading Joseph Heller's classic satire on the murderous insanity of war was nothing less than a rite of passage. Echoes of Yossarian, the wise-ass bombardier who was too smart to die but not smart enough to find a way out of his predicament, could be heard throughout the counterculture. As a result, it's impossible not to consider Catch-22 to be something of a period piece. But 40 years on, the novel's undiminished strength is its looking-glass logic. Again and again, Heller's characters demonstrate that what is commonly held to be good, is bad; what is sensible, is nonsense.

Yossarian says, "You're talking about winning the war, and I am talking about winning the war and keeping alive."
"Exactly," Clevinger snapped smugly. "And which do you think is more important?"
"To whom?" Yossarian shot back. "It doesn't make a damn bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead."
"I can't think of another attitude that could be depended upon to give greater comfort to the enemy."
"The enemy," retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on."
Mirabile dictu, the book holds up post-Reagan, post-Gulf War. It's a good thing, too. As long as there's a military, that engine of lethal authority, Catch-22 will shine as a handbook for smart-alecky pacifists. It's an utterly serious and sad, but damn funny book.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:09 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The story of a group of fliers in the Mediterranean during World War II, and their struggles with the psychological stresses of combat and military life.

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