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Catch-22 (1961)

by Joseph Heller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Catch-22 (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
33,93744744 (4.11)897
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. 495
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (kiwiflowa, WisePolyphemos)
  2. 176
    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)

1960s (4)
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» See also 897 mentions

English (428)  Swedish (4)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (2)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  Russian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (446)
Showing 1-5 of 428 (next | show all)
I really didn't like this book at the beginning and you need to brace yourself for a timeline that twists and turns. In the end, I really enjoyed this book and how it exposes the craziness of power, greed, humanity, and hierarchy. ( )
  buleth | Jul 9, 2020 |
This book is a treasure trove of flagrant incompetence. The 1961 book: Catch 22 could be said to be an extended illustration of [b:The Peter Principle|890728|The Peter Principle|Laurence J. Peter|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1347586680l/890728._SY75_.jpg|875969], which was published in 1969. It seems like everyone in the unit is incompetent. They each have misguided goals that seldom align with the organization goals. The book describes interactions between them, not the German enemy.

The first few chapters are people talking nonsense past each other, frequently there long conversations that are deliberate misunderstandings of simple communication. It seems as if everyone hates and fears everyone else in their unit.

After reading it for a while, I found myself falling into the same miscommunication patterns that they were using. That almost caused me to stop reading, but it is so highly rated by other people that I kept on in hopes that it would get better. It only got marginally better.

I struggled to give it a rating of 3 stars, but after reading more decided to give it 2 stars, which feels more appropriate for a book where nonsense, misunderstanding, belittlement, mayhem, and rage are the standard fare. Lies, including blatant lies are the order of the day. Consequences are rare, random, and often applied to the innocent with truth being totally irrelevant. Meanness to each other and misdeeds are followed by more misdeeds. This book only serves as an example of doing things wrong.

With military like this, it’s amazing that we won the war. But then, this purports to be a work of fiction. Doesn’t it? A review of [b:The True Story of Catch 22: The Reality that Inspired one of the Great Classics in American Literature|45486006|The True Story of Catch 22 The Reality that Inspired one of the Great Classics in American Literature|Patricia Chapman Meder|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1557174422l/45486006._SY75_.jpg|70264505] caused me to read Catch-22.

The front material and the after material caught my interest more than the book.

I am delighted that I did not purchase a copy of this book. ( )
  bread2u | Jul 1, 2020 |
Well at least I am finally done with my TBR 2015 list. Yeah. But I had to finish this long and not very interesting book to complete that list, um yeah?!

I always feel weirded out when I don't like something that is pushed on readers as classics. Heck, I didn't like The Catcher in the Rye or The Fault in Our Stars. So I should realize now, that not all books called classics are going to resonate with me.

I don't even know how to explain this book. There was too much going on. Catch-22 takes place during the latter part of World War II. We follow a character called Yossarian who flies in an air squadron. Yossarian and several other characters are faking injuries for the most part in order to not be forced from their hospital beds. Yossarian you realize after a while has to be suffering from PTSD. You start to get there later on in the book when you have him recalling events that occurred before he ended up in the hospital bed. Yossarian is still a hard character to like though. He is at times absurd, mean spirted, nice, and then back to being mean and ugly again.

Catch-22 comes up again and again when you have Yossarian realizing that if he pretends to be insane (meaning he no longer has to participate in the war) then he is really setting himself up by not looking insane, since if someone was truly insane they would not know it.

There are so many other plots/characters going on in Catch-22 it was very hard to focus as I was reading. There felt like there was too "much" happening and it really made it difficult to wade through the book. I realize that Heller was trying to say something about the price of war. But it was hard to focus on that message when there were so many moving parts, and a main character that I really didn't like.

One of the other characters who becomes linked to Yossarian and has it out for him in the novel (which honestly I still don't get why) was seriously called Nately's whore. Yeah. So there were a lot of unappealing characters in this book.

The writing was good, I just think that I had a hard time caring about anything that was going on. This was up there with getting my teeth cleaned for me. I know I have to have it done every couple of months, it doesn't mean I am happy about being at the dentist though. It's just something to suffer through. The flow wasn't great due to the book jumping around every chapter or so and deciding to focus on someone or something else.

The end when it came, I was happy to get to since it meant, no more book. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
I read this shortly after coming home from a tour of duty in Vietnam and Japan. Super book! ( )
  jbschroedersr | Jun 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 428 (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 (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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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