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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition [Paperback]

Joseph Heller
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (479 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

23 Jun 2011

Explosive, subversive, wild and funny, 50 years on the novel's strength is undiminished. Reading Joseph Heller's classic satire is nothing less than a rite of passage.

Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. His real problem is not the enemy - it is his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. If Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions then he is caught in Catch-22: if he flies he is crazy, and doesn't have to; but if he doesn't want to he must be sane and has to. That's some catch...

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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition + Slaughterhouse 5, or The Children's Crusade - A Duty-dance with Death + Fahrenheit 451 (Flamingo Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; 50th Anniversary ed edition (23 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099529122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099529125
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (479 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Heller was born in 1923 in Brooklyn, New York. He served as a bombardier in the Second World War and then attended New York University and Columbia University and then Oxford, the last on a Fullbright scholarship. He then taught for two years at Pennsylvania State University, before returning to New York, where he began a successful career in the advertising departments of Time, Look and McCall's magazines. It was during this time that he had the idea for Catch-22. Working on the novel in spare moments and evenings at home, it took him eight years to complete and was first published in 1961. His second novel, Something Happened was published in 1974, Good As Gold in 1979 and Closing Time in 1994. He is also the author of the play We Bombed in New Haven.

Product Description


"Never has a book been laughed and wept over so many times" (Guardian)

"To my mind, there have been two great American novels in the past fifty years. Catch-22 is one" (Stephen King)

"Catch-22 is the only war novel I've ever read that makes any sense" (Harper Lee)

"The war novel to end all war novels" (Independent)

"Blessedly, monstrously, bloatedly, cynically funny and fantastically unique. No one has ever written a book like this" (Financial Times)

Book Description

50th anniversary of Catch 22's publication. Yossarian lives!

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
127 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it or hate it 24 Jan 2005
People I know who have read Catch-22 have:
* Been unable to talk to me about it because they laugh when they're half way through telling me what it is they want to say
* Glorified it as funnier than any book, film, comedy series or stand up performance they've ever seen
* Said that they found it so annoying they had to throw it away
* Asked me what was happening after reading the first 100 pages
* Considered never reading again because they'd decided they'd never read anything better
* Had to leave the tube due to annoying the other passengers by laughing
Why do people love it? Because it is dark, surreal, immoral, subversive and hilarious. It gets away with it because Heller finds the perfect setting (a small island) in the perfect time (World War 2 - a dark, surreal, immoral time). But it all rings true because Heller was a WW2 airman himself.
Why do people hate it? I can only speculate. Maybe it's because there is no traditional plot-weaving. Maybe because the chronology is all over the place. Maybe because the main love-interest is a whore. Maybe because it relies on being absurd.
Its humour lies in words mainly so maybe people who don't find wordplay funny don't find Catch-22 funny.
Everyone should TRY and read this book. Even if you do cast it aside and lament a waste of a week's reading after 200 pages. If you love it you will really love it. I did and it's led to me writing an amazon review - and I've never done that before.
Just don't read the sequel.
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81 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate exploration of the human condition 20 Nov 1998
By A Customer
On the surface, Catch-22 is a fine novel about the U.S Army Air Force in Europe during the 1939-45 war. You do not have to scratch the surface hard to find a classic, timeless novel of the fine line between sanity and total madness. Is Yossarian, the 'hero', totally sane, or utterly, irredeemably insane? You tell me. Catch-22 is unique in its ability to thrust confusion, frustration, despair, insanity, death and plain old fashioned misery in waves - and yet repeatedly surprise you with its sidesplitting humour. When you laugh, you are not laughing at Heller's finely crafted characters, with all their idiosyncrasies, but at yourself, your friends and relatives. Because Heller's situations mirror the daily stupidities that we all put up with, laugh about and cry about. Reading Catch-22 is like sitting through the main feature a second time - you know exactly what will happen next; you know that nothing can change it. You cannot help hoping that it won't be so bad. But, of course, it's worse.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond great 11 Jan 2005
Its taken me two attempts to read Catch 22, the first thwarted by the books odd structure based on characters rather than story and the authors initially difficult style. I've stuck with it, read it and am about to re-read it.
Yes this is funny, yes this is a great satire, yes this is deeply surreal, yes it is a direct descendant of Alice in Wonderland, Nineteen Eighty Four and an antecedant of Monty Python, Terry Pratchett and much comedy inbetween. Yes the writing is brilliant and Heller's pitch is artfully sustained across the entire novel. But these are only some of the reasons you should read this.
It is foolish to pigeon-hole this as a war novel- this is about the world, and the way the planet works NOW. Characters such as Milo, the ruthless entrepreneur, Cathcart the idiotically ambitious general, and Yossarian himself ring absolutely true. However, the battle sequences are utterly terrifying as they should be and the sense of loss at the death of a friend is shocking. However it is the sense of the war as huge organism which shuffles people around often without itself knowing why that, although it owes a great deal to Jaroslav Hašek, remains Catch 22's legacy.
This is a book you can live with and can keep you company for life. In dark psychological periods this can remind you that being at odds with an uncaring world is not neccessarily a hopeless thing. When feeling politically helpless, it can can remind you of how absurd, how unreasonable the planet actually is and how the human spirit can conquer.
And ultimately, the book is redemptive, it shows there are ways of escaping, and that the sanest people may well be the craziest (or is that the other way round?).
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absurd masterpiece 28 Dec 2004
Heller's 'Catch-22' is one of my favourite books, and probably the one I have read the most times in my adult life. It is a brilliant indictment of twentieth century life, an absurd masterpiece, touching and grotesque and, in places, very funny.
The book is set on the island of Pianosa in World War II, where Yossarian, a bombadier in the US Air Force, is trying his best to survive, and is labelled crazy for doing so. His squadron is peopled by a wonderful cast of characters, each of whom has their own approach to getting through the war, each of which seems equally crazy. Indeed 'crazy' is one of the most used words in the book, and the one that, by the end, we realise has least meaning. Everyone in the book has a unique way of approaching the problems facing them, and a unique way of assessing the success (or otherwise) of their aims. Yossarian stumbles through it all confused and frightened, but with a perspective as sane as anyone else. Although the story meanders (in both structure and time) Heller never loses sight of his objectives, and every chapter and story illustrate the madness perfectly.
This is not an anti-war novel, it is a novel about life, and how absurd it is however we try to get through it. It is also not a comic novel in the traditional sense. Heller often stressed that the humour was always there to make you think, not to make you laugh, although it frequently does both. Heller frequently makes you laugh then brings you down to earth with a jolt. The horrors of war (and of life) are never far away and the highs are always tinged with bitterness in a way that only truly great writing can manage.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Wow (not in a good way)
I preserved until the bitter end but my word this is a tedious book! No plot, way too many characters and jumps about all over the place. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Alex Burrows
5.0 out of 5 stars Catch22 lasts and lasts
Brilliant, of course, and still has its laugh-out-loud moments
Published 11 days ago by R. Rampton
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
disapionting compared with reviews
Published 21 days ago by canno
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Takes a while to read but hilarious and definitely worth it for the controversy and story spins. A book you must read in your life for sure.
Published 24 days ago by Laura Bradshaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Not like any other book I've read
Comical twist on the issue of going into combat.Not like any other book I've read.
Published 25 days ago by handyman
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic novel. its all been said before but read ...
Classic novel .its all been said before but read it and see for yourself.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I can guarantee that this chilli powder is really really really hot!
Published 1 month ago by Pedr
2.0 out of 5 stars Thank heavens it's all over
I bought this book as recommend by my tutor to improve reading comprehension and it left me more confused than ever. I started reading it in March and only finished it today. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ryla
1.0 out of 5 stars It made me mentally leave the building.
I'm not a huge bookworm, nor have I read TONNES of novels, but this is the first time that I have actually GIVEN up reading a book, part way through. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Murakami fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
another good book from my college days
Published 1 month ago by David Ahmed
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