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Catch-22 (A Dell book) [Mass Market Paperback]

Joseph. Heller
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (631 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far, far more than an anti-war piece July 17 2004
Catch 22 is a story set during World War II. A significant choice for what is, ostensibly, an anti-war satire, since that particular war was a universally popular one butressed by high moral motivations. But that is the point, for Catch 22 is not simply a lampoon of war, but a searing indictment of man's spiritual crisis in the modern world.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Crazy Classic About Insanity Feb. 4 2014
Reading an acknowledged classic like Catch-22 for the first time I approached it with what I thought was a certain familiarity with the subject matter, only to find myself surprised at how little of what went into the book I actually knew.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A challenging read Dec 28 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've yet to finish this book and I've gone back and tried a few times. It's a literary work of art, challenging and worth the read if you can get through it. Some day I'll set aside the time to plot my way through, but for now it sits half finished with me left wondering how it will end. Tackle if you dare.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest novels of all time June 2 2004
I disagree with the reviewer who said that readers should try not to be offended given the current global situation; this book is more relevant now than ever, for the war of today is even more disjointed and Catch-22ish than World War II ever was. This novel is simply brilliant, and despite its bleakness it does end on a hopeful note and is hilarious throughout with its cruel and unrelented exposures of the insanity of the military, such as the colonel who arbitrarily raises the missions to get his picture in the Saturday Evening Post and the chaplain's interrogation (in which he is found guilty of all the crimes he would ever commit; of course he is guilty, they are HIS infractions!). Through it all, Yossarian, the only sane character in the madness, tries to get himself grounded but finds himself repeatedly blocked by Catch-22, and tries in vain to convince others around him that he is crazy while at the same time they are all crazy around him. The novel reads like a dream, completely out of sequence and often making no sense, but in the world of Catch-22 everything you know is wrong, and afterwards you begin to question everything you know. The final paragraph, even though it's only three sentences, is a gleeful twist on itself and is the perfect ending to a perfect novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing. April 22 2004
This book is nothing short of AWESOME ! It's cutting-edge. It's profound. It's hilarious. It's dangerously serious and seriously dangerous. It's earthshaking. It has no comparison. One in millions. An absolute Must-Read, if you know anything about books... It can be a life-changer and an experience worth going through. Do yourself a favour and read it. You'll never forget it. It will change your perception of insanity forever.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Read
An excellent book and I just love the writing. Heller is a genius writing a non-war story set during WWII. Read more
Published 10 months ago by shezzypants
3.0 out of 5 stars Catch 22
I've suddently developed an urge to purchase books that I've never read, but without spending a whole lot of cash, so naturally I turned to Amazon. Read more
Published 13 months ago by J. Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars still brilliant after all these years
I first read Catch 22 when I was 15. THe war in Viet Nam was still going on. Reading it again, I'm just as dazzled and amused by its tour de force absurdist satire.
Published 21 months ago by zanderary
1.0 out of 5 stars mentally ill army men "babies"
I have to agree with the other low star raters out there. I wanted to rate 0 but it's not allowed. It doesn't even deserve 1 star. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2010 by A. Jacques
1.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't take it
Regarded as a classic, the nagging implication is that if you don't enjoy this one, you just might be cursed with a dreary mind. Read more
Published on Dec 12 2009 by Pete Kitay
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Just A Satire
Heller's satire is interlaced with genuine tragic moments. There is a particular event in the story (Snowden) that is told and retold several times - Heller keeps revisiting it... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2009 by Erin
2.0 out of 5 stars I'd take a pass on this one
I read this novel because for years people have been using the term "catch-22" in their everyday speak. Read more
Published on March 19 2008 by NorthVan Dave
3.0 out of 5 stars not among my favorite novels
I never really got into this book, and I'm not quite sure what all the fuss is about. It's at least semi-creative, and it is well written, but I didn't find it all that funny. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2007 by Paul J. Fitzgerald
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic for the ages
Classic. That's all that needs to be said. But there's more:
Catch 22 is the greatest Masterpiece of the 20th century. It is the greatest ethical novel yet written. Read more
Published on March 7 2006 by Franny and Z.
5.0 out of 5 stars Catch it now
Few books that I've read really opened my eyes to something: Politics, human injustice, or idiotic ideology. Read more
Published on March 7 2006 by Farnold Arnsworth
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