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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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3.0 out of 5 stars A Hard to Read Classic
Catch-22 tells the tortuous story of Yossarian, a WW2 bombardier, who starts to lose (or regain) his sanity after a member of his crew is killed during a bombing mission. As Yossarian loses more of his friends to enemy fire, bizarre accidents and strange twists of fate, the storyline becomes ever more convoluted and the characters ever more bizarre.
At its heart,...
Published on Jan. 30 2004 by RV


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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 One of the greatest novels of all time, June 2 2004
By 
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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2 of 2 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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Rings True...Regarding Life in General, July 10 2005
By 
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
Catch 22 is a classic.
No book has more viciously exposed the way logic can be a false, coercive tool, or the way men can be coerced by society into fulfilling roles they are absolutely dispassionate about. The book is mesmerizing; making pass after pass, building up detail; layer upon layer, we are forced to examine how this madness revolves and evolves from every possible characters perspective.
Every man in this book is small and weak, all are likeable.
The madness of war is fully contemplated, but it is within the wider picture of the madness of society that it is exposed and condemned with ruthless accuracy time and again.
I, like so many of those who have reviewed this book, tried to read it as a teen and gave up. I think you need to be of a certain age to truly appreciate this book; it is the coercive logic of catch 22 which is at the heart of this book, a logic that we are exposed to in adult life almost constantly.
Among the characters of the air base, only Yossarian can see the madness of the false logic and coercion that lies a few inches behind "free will".
Oh, did I mention this book is funny? -- That's the best part of it: that it manages to be insanely funny while also being profound, proof that "comic" novels need not all be cotton candy. Try Catch 22! Keep a copy of this novel at hand. Another book I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Heller, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic!, June 23 2005
By 
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
The greatness of Joesph Heller's Catch-22 cannot possibly be overstated. It is simply one of the finest books ever written, and one can only hope that it will continue to be read by people young and old forever.
The novel is considered a satire. Set during World War II the main character is Yossarian, a wise cracking bombadier that wants nothing more than to survive the war. Yossarian proves too smart to be killed, but he is never smart enough to figure a way out of the war. The reason being Catch-22.
The "catch" is that the Air Force considers a man to be insane if he willingly continues to participate in bombing missions. The Air Force would not allow an insane man to do this, but he is volunteering.
On the flip side, if a man puts in a request to be relieved from bombing duties, then he must be sane. After all, is not attempting to prolong ones life the most sane thing to do. Of course, a sane man cannot possibly be relieved of duty. He is needed for the bomb run. The predicament confounds Yossarian throughout the novel as he attempts to stay alive. He has made it his mission to live forever even if it kills him. Of course, the closer Yossarian gets to completing his tour, the more his superior officer increases the number of bombing missions required to gain release from duty.
The novel is a black comedy that goes back and forth from hilarious to horrific. We laugh at the apparent conspiracy to keep Yossarian in the war. We cringe when the conditions at the military hospitals are fully detailed. It is impossible not to laugh at Major Major Major, who much to his dismay, looks too much like Henry Fonda. It is equally impossible to not to ponder the situation of the soldier in white, covered head to toe in bandages, if he is really there.
While the book is an anti-war piece focused on World War II, Catch-22 has not lost its importance today. Its biting sarcasm and wit can be enjoyed as much today as it was in the early 1960's when it was first published.
Heller employs a style that is all his own. The irony and satire that he creates is unparalleled. I am truly unable to think of a single person that would not love this book. Try it for yourself! Pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Heller, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top of my list, Feb. 4 2005
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
There are only a handful of books that refuse to fall into pre-determined "categories." CATCH 22 is one such book. Only a few others come to mind (think McCrae's THE CHILDREN'S CORNER or possibly FIGHT CLUB) These are books that thumb their nose at convention and the usual forms and ideas. Thank goodness we have these and some others, but the one that stands out in my mind the most is CATCH 22. There are several characters in the book, but the one that Catch-22 is rooted to is Yossarian, who throughout the whole book is always wondering why people he has never met are trying to kill him. His wondering why leads him to try to leave the army in any way possible, but he is always confronted with "catch-22", which in his case means he can leave the army if he is crazy, and he must be crazy to fly the dangerous bombing runs, but, and here's the catch, "anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy...that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind". Catch-22 is used in different situation throughout the book, each with its own underling meaning. Joseph Heller, the author, does a great job in explaining the circumstances and events that happen in war. He does a very great job in describing all of the characters and how they all feel. He also relates all of the feelings of the characters, to the real life feelings that people would have while in war. The main theme of the story is that Yossarian has to sacrifice himself in order to save the other men in the war.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Laugh, I Cry, and I Read It Again, June 11 2004
By 
Oddsfish (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
It's a really scary thing to be sane in a world that is insane. That's pretty much Yossarian's problem. He knows that the war going on around him and the people controlling things are crazy. Life, for Yossarian, is one enormous Catch-22; it often seems to be run by forces either hostile or totally indifferent to the human condition. All humanity can come up with is a sort of economic/power hierarchy through which they try to remain blind to the state of life. Capitalism has run amok, as have bureaucracies. Yossarian is alientated and trapped in near-despair and trying to figure out how a sane man is to live in a world that is against him?
Catch-22 is one of the truly great novels of the twentieth century because it is so honest and so penetrating. It's not just a war novel; Catch-22 is a novel that really encompasses the current human dilemma. Yossarian is really an Everyman character trying to live in the postmodern age. His choice is seemingly whether he should choose to die as a victim of the crazy world or choose a living death by buying into the insanity. That's why this novel is so affecting and why Yossarian resonates with so many people. He's in the same situation. He faces the same choices in this life. Ultimately, Catch-22 is a towering novel for its hope as Yossarian finally finds the courage to live.
I can't really say enough good about Catch-22. It's is funny and touching and so human. It's really a novel that shouldn't be missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Amusing, May 28 2004
By 
K. Bergherm "Katilo" (Westmont, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
This was the most humorous book I've read recently! Very entertaining from beginning to end! It is about a World War II bombardier, Captain Yossarian, who desparately wants to be sent home but he is caught in the military's Catch-22. Catch-22 states that one can only be excused from flying missions on the grounds of insanity; one must request to be excused; one who requests to be excused is presumably in fear of his life, thus proof of his sanity so therefore he must continue to fly; one who is insane would not make the request and would continue to fly the missions despite the fact that he would be excused from them if he were to ask. The typical no-win situation. There are many characters presented in this book, adding to the confusion and enhancing the hilarity. The plot...well, there doesn't seem to be much of a plot but once the reader becomes caught up in the circular logic of the military, the plot doesn't seem important anyway. There are grisly moments of realism interspersed with the absurb humor. The time-line of the story is not chronological, but somehow it all makes sense. Throughout the book, I found myself cheering for Yossarian and his efforts, hoping that in all the confusion he would come out a winner in the end. If you enjoyed the T.V. series M*A*S*H, then you're sure to love this book as the writers of the sitcom were inspired by Joseph Heller's amazingly bizarre tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It was love at first sight., May 15 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
Catch-22 is Joseph Heller's satire that pokes fun at the military. In it, the army has absolute power, dictating the lives and fates of the men in its power. The military constantly increases the required missions for the men. Colonel Cathcart, the person who raises the mission requirement, is risking the lives of his men in order to impress his superior officers. This reflects the futility of their situation. The reason they risk their lives is not to help the country. Instead, they fight for the greed and ambitions of one man.
The main character, Yossarian, is constantly afraid that he is going to die. People think he is insane, but the fact that he wants to leave and survive makes him possibly the sanest person there. Each chapter in the novel centers around another character in the military (though, with few exceptions, everything leads back to Yossarian and his plight). From Major Major Major's issues with his name to Colonel Scheisskopf's fixation with parades, these characters and their situations are very interesting and amusing.
While hilarious and amusing, Catch-22 does have a deeper meaning. It talks of the futility of war and the powerlessness that men can have against bureaucracies such as the military. Yossarian's reflections on life and morality in the midst of chaos are surprisingly deep.
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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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