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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition [Paperback]

Joseph Heller
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (442 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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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 (442 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 578 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
109 of 119 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 20th Century's great novels 16 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having just finished re-reading Catch-22 some 40-odd years after first reading it, I now realise just what a great book this is. In 1972 as a callow 20-year old, I remember sessions (following consumption of copious amounts of beer) where several of us would sit round reciting some of the hilarious passages from the book ("Yossarian? What the hell kind of a name is Yossarian?" "It's Yossarian's name, sir."). But reading it now, cover to cover, the novel astounds with its breadth, savage wit and just being so far ahead of its time in terms of exposing the impact of war on individuals. As usual, there is so much more in the book than the film (good though the latter is), with Heller providing the reader with a panoply of vivid characters all caught up in the madness of war. Yes, he exaggerates of course and creates situations that would never happen in reality, but everything is carefully linked into his central argument that war de-humanises those that take part. Bearing in mind this novel was written during the 1950s and published in 1961, it was truly ground-breaking in its day, but is still highly relevant and just laugh-out-loud funny! I'm simply astonished at the number of negative reviews, although consoled that the number is relatively small compared to the number of positive reviews. Thank you, Joseph Heller, for a wonderful and important book.
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34 of 38 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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78 of 88 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and thought provocking
A classic anti war story and very funny too. Yossarian is scared to get shot down and he is the crazy one!
Published 14 days ago by Captain Sensible
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, it's a real catch-22
A classic, great in the re-reading all these years later!

Can see why the English language has place for the term "catch-22" all over again - the more things... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Paul Aarden
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic anti war faire
One of the best books written from an anti war stance. Persevere with the chronology and you will be rewarded!
Published 16 days ago by izustu
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the funniest books I've ever read.
I found it difficult to get into this book at first, but stuck at it. It was well worth it in the end!
Published 26 days ago by MR M HUTTON
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read...
Witty, unnerving and unusual this book is truly worth its title as one of the greatest books of the 20th century. Read more
Published 29 days ago by eleanor
2.0 out of 5 stars dull
I couldn't finish it in fact only read about a quarter as it didn't go anywhere. I think I just missed ehat it was about
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
I love it. Fantastic book. It arrived on time and it is as good as expected. Get it and don't think more about it.
Published 1 month ago by maria j. martinez llanos
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best
Funniest book I ever read
A true Classic
A must read for anyone who loves books
Poignant, disturbing, brilliantly written
Published 1 month ago by vkester
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and weird
So many emotions reading this book! It is very well written, interesting and funny. It also makes me sad and irritated at times - but this is what makes it so good.
Published 1 month ago by Ali G
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Classic
The dead man in Yossarians tent, Milo bombs his own squadron on contract, and of course Nately's whore and Majaor Major. Who could forget these characters. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Frogger
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