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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback – Apr 5 2011
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. It would be difficult to imagine richer material for an audiobook reader, comedically speaking, than Joseph Heller's classic novel of wartime madness. Sanders is the lucky actor chosen to read Heller's masterpiece, and he does well by it, proceeding gamely through the novel's staggering array of comic set pieces and deliriously woozy dialogue. Heller's humor is straight-faced, requiring little more than a steady, sure voice, and Sanders offers just that. Line by line, joke by joke, Sanders reels through the marvelous phantasmagoria of Heller's World War II, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Caedmon's impressive package includes a 1970s-era recording of Heller reading selections from his book. Heller is a delightful contrast to Sanders, his slight lisp accentuating a marvelous Brooklyn accent. Heller reads as if with cigar perched on his lip and turns his novel into an extended borscht belt comic's riff.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
On all fronts, the main character, Yossarian, is assailed by the dehumanized absurdities of mondern life, manifested most concretely in that perfected science of death, modern warfare. Yossarian, like all of us, is chained by rationality that has been stripped of reason, engineered thus for the purpose of control. That is the essence of Catch 22.
The character of Milo Minderbinder represents the cold, opportunistic thinking of the corporate world, dead as it is to humanistic concerns in its tireless pursuit of profit and power. Chaplain Tappman embodies the impotence and self-doubt common to many people of faith who feel adrift in a culture of materialisticly driven insanity. But it is Yossarian's wanderings through Rome, the Eternal City, and as such, the representation of modern "civilized" society, that is the coup de grace. It is a moonlit, poetic scene lamenting the spiritual and humanistic decay and ultimate bankruptcy of modern Western society. Simply powerful stuff.
Properly speaking, Catch 22 is more a series of vignettes or short stories rather than a novel. But it is told with a humor that bristles with moral outrage. While not perfect, it is an excellent read, and definitely recommened.
There's no need to explain what the famous Catch is; if you don't know it’s meaning by now then you've been asleep for decades. What surprised me was how the book was about so much more than the eponymous Catch. Page after page was filled with unrelenting, even scorching, criticism of the insanity of war and the ridiculousness of putting the lives of a generation of brave young men in the hands of vain, self-serving old men.
Heller’s style can be challenging for some, as there is very little in the way of linear narrative, and even individual scenes often seem to have no beginning, middle or ending. Every military order, every briefing, every conversation, is turned into meaningless, circular arguments, where characters repeat themselves, speak past each other, intentionally misinterpret what they’re supposed to do, and thereby reveal how the lunatics are running the asylum, and the inmates are just sane enough to know they want to get home alive.
The flight squadron, around which the book revolves, is essentially forced to play Russian roulette: the more missions the pilots fly, the more likely some of them are to be killed, and most of them are very well aware of that, yet they are forced to continue flying. They hope and pray they can survive their quota of missions so they can be sent home, while their superiors compete with each other by regularly adding to the number of missions that have to be flown.Read more ›
The book is basically Dilbert in World War II. As in the comic strip, all the people in charge are unbelievably stupid, don't care about the people they command, and are extremely selfish. The common soldiers are of course much smarter than the commanding officers and try their hardest to get out of work. Their unwillingness to fight is justified (by the book, anyway) because their commanders are just so evil and stupid. Everyone's behavior is cartoonish and annoying.
This edition of the book includes a preface by the author in which he, instead of saying anything useful, writes mostly about how everyone thinks his book is wonderful. Well, it's not.
Most recent customer reviews
stupid and unfunny, written in a barley readable style, shouldint be a classic.Published 14 months ago by elliot wilson
How cool is this book? Weird and funny and frustrating. The paradox of Catch-22 is masterfully worked, no wonder it became a common expression. Read morePublished 19 months ago by George Hird
The first 50 pages were entertaining. After that, it was the same antics repeated more-or-less "ad nauseum" for another 400 pages. Read morePublished 20 months ago by CR
This book, in my opinion, and in the minds of many others, is one of the best novels written in the 20th century. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Ryan