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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far, far more than an anti-war piece
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...
Published on July 17 2004 by Mandamus

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1.0 out of 5 stars Not how this became the best selling American novel of the 20th Century
The first 50 pages were entertaining. After that, it was the same antics repeated more-or-less "ad nauseum" for another 400 pages.

The whole book resembles a really long, overly drawn-out episode of "M*A*S*H", but where all the characters are crazy like "Colonel Flagg" and none of them are endearing or have any true substance beyond...
Published 1 month ago by CR


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far, far more than an anti-war piece, July 17 2004
By 
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Crazy Classic About Insanity, Feb. 4 2014
This review is from: Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition (Paperback)
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. As the number of missions keeps mounting, and the number of pilots getting killed keeps growing, the survivors are driven to desperation, and desperate measures, each time they think they’ve approached the finish line, only to see it stretched further ahead.
Heller presents a huge cast of characters, each one crazy in his own way. It takes a while to figure out who’s who, but eventually each one develops a distinguishing trait or theme, which informs their characters through-out the book: Yossarian is obsessed with the idea that people, including the enemy, may be out to kill him ; Major Major, the squadron leader, can’t stand facing any of his men, so he sets up a system where they can only have appointments with him when he’s not there; Milo Minderbinder, the entrepreneur, buys and sells from anyone, including the Germans, all in the name of making a good deal; Nately is so in love with an Italian prostitute that he wants to keep flying missions for fear of otherwise being sent back home; and so many others. The story, such as it is, jumps back and forth over a period of several months, with scenes and characters popping in and out seemingly at random, always stressing the total ridiculousness of the lives that are being led, as well as the arbitrariness, and suddenness, of the deaths that occur. Many things that happen defy logic, if not plain probability, but that is par for the course in a book that sometimes is unabashedly silly, while at the same time deadly serious in its message.
The book is frustrating at times in the way scenes veer off into unexpected territory, and almost incomprehensible in some of its loopy dialogue, but that’s what makes it so successful, leaving the reader feeling the frustration of the characters, and understanding just why it is they’re going crazy.
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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
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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
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This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
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
By 
Paul R. Gagnon (Edmundston, New Brunswick Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Catch-22 (Hardcover)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars How cool is this book, July 22 2014
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. This is one of those books that deserves its reputation!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not how this became the best selling American novel of the 20th Century, May 30 2014
By 
CR (Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition (Paperback)
The first 50 pages were entertaining. After that, it was the same antics repeated more-or-less "ad nauseum" for another 400 pages.

The whole book resembles a really long, overly drawn-out episode of "M*A*S*H", but where all the characters are crazy like "Colonel Flagg" and none of them are endearing or have any true substance beyond superficial quirks.

There are a few chapters that are genuinely insightful, such as the one where the Americans argued with the old Italian in the brothel. The chapter describing the bomb run on Bologna imprinted the chaos, confusion, and terror of a bombing run on my mind as well. But that doesn't make up for the other 400 pages of tedious antics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the top books of the 20th century, May 1 2014
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Ryan (Kirkland Lake, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This book, in my opinion, and in the minds of many others, is one of the best novels written in the 20th century.

Catch-22 is a unique piece of writing that breaks all moulds. I read it on a whim, and I was so thoroughly satisfied that I searched for other books like it and couldn't find anything that equalled it.

The story follows a rational protagonist in the deep of an irrational air force outfit set during WWII. The book is hilarious. There is so much absurdity, and yet it is grounded in the protagonists rational mind. Each chapter feels like a character study with stories and anecdotes. One really develops an attachment to all the characters and their idiosyncratic ways.

This book is sad to have three parts which begin with lots of laughs to an ending where the laughs aren't there so much. Heller was a genius when he wrote this book.

It surely is a book I'd recommend to anyone. I don't see how one can live a full life if one misses this amazing classic novel!.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Read, May 29 2013
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This review is from: Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition (Paperback)
An excellent book and I just love the writing. Heller is a genius writing a non-war story set during WWII. The dehumanisation through bureaucracy makes this story of capitalist indulgence relevant. A thrilling read. Recommend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars still brilliant after all these years, July 19 2012
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This review is from: Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition (Paperback)
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.
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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition
Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition by Joseph Heller (Paperback - April 5 2011)
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