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Catch-22 (1961)

by Joseph Heller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Catch-22 (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
35,27947246 (4.11)919
It is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever even if he has to die in the attempt.)… (more)
  1. 505
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (kiwiflowa, WisePolyphemos)
  2. 186
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (InvisiblerMan)
  3. 90
    Closing Time by Joseph Heller (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Joseph Heller's sequel to "Catch-22" set in the early 1990s.
  4. 124
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (rosylibrarian)
  5. 136
    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (kittycatpurr)
  6. 50
    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.
  7. 62
    The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hašek (roby72)
  8. 51
    One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (gbill)
  9. 41
    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
  10. 30
    King Rat by James Clavell (John_Vaughan)
  11. 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)
  12. 53
    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.
  13. 20
    The Bamboo Bed by William Eastlake (alaskayo)
    alaskayo: 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)
  14. 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.
  15. 10
    And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat (ShaneTierney)
  16. 21
    Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho (chrissybob)
    chrissybob: Similar views on mental health
  17. 11
    Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg by Derek Swannson (jasbro)
  18. 11
    War Story by Derek Robinson (Polaris-)
  19. 11
    Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (fundevogel)
  20. 13
    The House of God by Samuel Shem (mcenroeucsb)

(see all 22 recommendations)

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English (453)  Swedish (4)  German (2)  Danish (2)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (2)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  Russian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (472)
Showing 1-5 of 453 (next | show all)
Although I knew very little about the story I knew that some people find it very hard to follow due to the chaotic structure and that put me off a bit.

I found it to be a little slow starting off but I immediately liked Yossarian and even though a lot of characters are introduced I never found it confusing. Some of the names used are absolutely awesome such as Milo Minderbinder and Lieutenant Schiesskopf. The use of humour is great and I found myself chuckling along quite often while reading.

The military bureaucracy shown the spotlight in the book is ludicrous but I couldnt help but feel that its only an exageration of what Heller must have experienced during his time in the military. For example, for a long time, Yossarian has a dead man in his tent. He was killed before records show that he was in the unit so no one would remove the body. To all intents and purposes he doesnt exist despite the existence of a body.

Along with all the humour and insanity of the bureaucracy there is crushing tradegy, the deaths of the enlisted men along side Yossarian. Some of the men are not afraid of death, being blinded by patriotic zeal or some other sense of duty. There is also Milo Minderbinder who is making vast profits off the war which he states many times is also owned (shared) by everyone. A lot if not all of the themes dealt with in the book are applicable to modern conflicts.

Despite my reservations I really enjoyed this book and I only wish I had read I earlier. I rarely re-read a book but I can see this being a book I revisit in the future. Thanks again Kylie. ( )
  Brian. | Jun 16, 2021 |
A modern "classic" I had never read. Unlike numerous other readers, I liked the first few chapters: sharp, cynical character sketches and a black humor that made me snort with laughter while at the same time gasping, "Oh god, that isn't funny!" Heller can turn a sentence around on a dime: "The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In three days no one could stand him." He is lacerating on the stupidity of military bureaucracy and its practitioners, though it often goes "over the top" into rapid-fire "Who's on first"-style dialog that becomes tiresome. Then there is the bombing run over Bologna: a mission where every man climbs into the plane knowing he will be dead when the day is over. It is terrifying, blazing with noise, chaos, hysteria, madness, courage, and violence. And they survive. Brilliant.

But... but... OK. I GET that this is wartime. I GET that this is a macho all-male environment. But the women... every female mentioned, described, or alluded to is one thing and one thing only: something to f*ck. They are objects of mindless, heartless lust, to be made fun of, to be held in contempt, to be used, abused and misused, and they frequently don't even have names. The one soldier who falls madly in love with a whore, mooning over her, spending money on her, hanging around her in an ineradicable passion, is stupid and pathetic. From the officers' wives to the miserable cleaner in the brothel, they exist for only one purpose. Perhaps this toxic cloud lifts later in the book? Perhaps there is a real woman in there somewhere, or perhaps this is just another black trick of the author's, who means to raise the curtain on the ugliness of misogyny and some kind of enlightenment occurs? I don't know. I just didn't want to read any more of it to find out. ( )
  JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
I tried really hard to like this book. It was unique and fresh and had many moments of mirth but it was very slow at developing a plot; so slow that I ran out of patience when I had read 50% of the book and the story or plot is yet to start.
This review will be highly skewed towards the negatives (cause I left it midway); however, I am consciously trying to include some positives as well.
One thing that really struck me when I was reading the preface was the review of a petulant reviewer that this book seems to be screaming to its reader and though I was sceptical as to how that was possible; it was one of the aptest insights about this book. Catch-22 is a story of Yossarian (whatever I have read till now) who is desperately trying to protect himself from dying as everyone is out there to kill him. He is repeatedly getting stuck in participating in a war he has no interest in cause one of his seniors keep on increasing the number of mandatory flying trips before he can be relieved. Not only this but almost all the events in this chirpy war tale is due to random events and idiosyncrasies of the cast involved. Though it is a fun read with deep insightful moments about the futility of war you do not feel any connection to any person what so ever. This lack of connection is felt acutely as you progress and made me almost despair of a storyline. Maybe this book was too random for my taste. This book also dwells in extremes, it introduces a positive incidence and then twists and turns it into something negative by overusing it.

All in all, it is an enjoyable read. The only thing that acted against it is the size of the book and the lack of emotional contact with the casts.
( )
  __echo__ | May 11, 2021 |
A classic book, that you hate reading, but can't put it down. A book that flows from chapter to chapter but jumps all over the place in time in mid sentence. A book that describes serious incidents in the war but is light-hearted. Respectful to the men who served in WW2, but also disrespectful at the same time. Some characters you love, some you hate, some you love and hate depending on what chapter you are reading. A book about how the corporate world is run very similar to the military. Favourite character - Major Major Major Major... The Catch, you are allowed to leave, but you can't.. ( )
  sjh4255 | May 4, 2021 |
I gave up. This was just too dated to finish. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 453 (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
"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)
A portrait gallery, a collection of anecdotes, some of them wonderful, a parade of scenes, some of them finely assembled, a series of descriptions, yes, but the book is no novel... Its author, Joseph Heller, is like a brilliant painter who decides to throw all the ideas in his sketchbooks onto one canvas, relying on their charm and shock to compensate for the lack of design.

» Add other authors (9 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
Sanders, Jay O.Narratorsecondary 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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

It is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever even if he has to die in the attempt.)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
This is the story of Yossarian, a man trying to survive during WW2. Unable to go home because he hasn't 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.
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