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Catch-22 (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 5 Feb 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (5 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099470462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099470465
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (560 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,526 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

Review

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

"Wildly original, brutally gruesome, a dazzling performance that will outrage as many readers as it delights. Vulgarly, bitterly, savagely funny, it will not be forgotten by those who can take it" (New York Times)

"It is the Rock and Roll of novels" (Norman Mailer)

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

"The greatest satirical work in the English language since EREHWON" (Observer)

Book Description

One of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, now celebrating its 50th anniversary.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ms. E. J. Curran on 13 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
I found this book, through Amazon. I imagine it recommended it to me on the basis that I love `Trainspotting,' `A Clockwork Orange,' `The Catcher In The Rye,' `The Bell Jar,' `A Brave New World,' `To Kill A Mocking Bird' and `The Lord Of The Flies.' Through my love of 20th centaury classics, I persuaded myself to buy this book. Soon as I received it I dived right into the book.
The contrast between the breathtaking dialogue, tear jerking theatrics, laugh out loud comedy, un believable consequences, insanities euphoric state and humbling notions of this book simply leave you un able to find any sort of fault in it. A classic war story? Yes, but that's not all. It speak about humanity on a much, broader, wider and grimmer level than any event, war (OR BOOK ITSELF) should or could be able to and it does it fantastically. It's anti-hero climax and ability to laugh at itself is unique to its own. The book itself is like a deep breathe in. It's refreshing, elating and completely and utterly important for all of us to experience. I hate when it comes to this part of a review because you expect me to say something very `cliché' I'm sorely going to have to deprive you from that pleasure as this book is to `thought provoking' (there you go) to allow such horrors. If any one is reading over these reviews wondering if this book is worth their money- My answer is a simple yes. This book is humbling and most importantly extremely entertaining.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steve Cann on 12 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd always been fascinated to read this book, whose reputation seems to have gone before it - & whose title of course has become indelibly embedded into our language.

It's a lengthy, experimental (for its time) & often extremely funny read - but you need an incredible amount of patience & indulgence to stay the course of this voluminous book.

It tells the story of Yossarian - a world-weary America fighter pilot stationed on an island off the coast of Italy during WW2, & centres on his brushes with authority & ways of coping with the thought that death could easily be around the corner any day... all the while as his superior, the cold & feckless Col Cathcart, forever increases the squadron's missions.

For what seemed like the whole of the first half, there appeared to be no plot at all - just chapter after chapter introducing a new & increasingly bizarre & baffling array of characters who just seem to get on each others nerves in an overlong series of set-pieces.
But, if you can get to the second half, the book levels out & a story of sorts does emerge, along with an underlying anti-war message that resonates towards the end.

I'm glad I've read this book (I think!) but I can't say I loved it - it obviously had a new & satirical edge when it was published in the early 1960s, but that now seems rather dated. Despite the piled-on humour, it isn't always as funny as it thinks it is either.
But, all in all, it's worth it if you can stay with it, & there are certainly echoes here of the claustrophobia & humour of M*A*S*H (& even Blackadder Goes Forth) to come perhaps. There are also some well-observed insights into the human condition, & into the insanity & futility of war itself.
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147 of 159 people found the following review helpful By S. Pollard on 24 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Having first read this in the 60s I came to Catch 22 again as it was one of our reading group choices.

I had very positive memories of this book - but 45 years later how would I feel about it? Well, it is brilliant, iconic and groundbreaking. I can understand the impact it made on the literary scene all those years ago. But reading it now I found it - dare I say it - a trifle irritating. The humour and jokiness were just a bit too relentless and the circuitous dialogue a bit too repetitious. In many ways it is very much "of its time" inasmuch as the women are poorly represented.

However Yossarian remains one of the great fictional characters - mad as a hatter but at the same time absolutely sane. Catch 22 must rank among the best ever books about the futility of war. It is weird and wacky and is the ultimate black comedy about war.
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