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Catch-22 (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Joseph Heller , Howard Jacobson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (463 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

5 Feb 2004 Vintage Classics


Set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, Catch-22 is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never even met keep trying to kill him. Joseph Heller's bestselling novel is a hilarious and tragic satire on military madness, and the tale of one man's efforts to survive it.

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Catch-22 (Vintage Classics) + The Catcher in the Rye + Nineteen Eighty-Four
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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: 3.2 x 13 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (463 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,721 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


"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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
122 of 132 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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37 of 41 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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79 of 89 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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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic piece of writing! 13 Jan 2004
This is just a great book. Its not an easy read, you do have to concentrate and the language at times is tough going, but if you do take your time over it and allow yourself to appreciate what is going on and what Heller is trying to do, then you will enjoy reading this book. The nature of its topic makes you sad, so much death and suffering is obviously quite depressing but at the same time it makes you laugh out loud. Some of the characters are superb and some of the quite ridiculous conversations with all their contradictions that take place are fantastic. The lasting memory of this book though is its conclusion, i can read those last few pages again and again because it gives you hope, that through all that madness, all the stupidity and death which occured, you can survive and come thorugh it all ok. Catch 22 is a brilliant read, i thouroughly recommend you give it a go and read it again and again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best books of all time.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars I was very disappointed. Apart from a few well written descriptive...
Overrated much hyped book. I was very disappointed. Apart from a few well written descriptive chapters there is a lot of farcial nonsense. Read more
Published 2 days ago by MARK WOODFIN
1.0 out of 5 stars Once was enough!
A challenging read which was rather repetitive. The message could have been conveyed much sooner. I lost enthusiasm for the book but did persevere to the bitter end.
Published 7 days ago by A Linton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Yossarian learns that the world is run by corporals.
Published 11 days ago by P. W. Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly THE greatest American novel
Truly THE greatest American novel. I first read "Catch 22" as a teenager and have 're-read it more than twenty two times. Read more
Published 12 days ago by andrew steel.
5.0 out of 5 stars Humorous and readable
While I knew this wasn't an ordinary war-setting story, I still put off reading Catch-22 as I'm generally not a fan of war books. Read more
Published 13 days ago by CoffeeandCake
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I have read for ages
Have avoided reading this book for so many years because I just didn't fancy the premise etc. What a mistake! Best book I have read for ages... just my sense of humour. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Joanne Capener
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous farce
Very funny and irony deployed with precision. Need to suspend your disbelief in parts but the farce is part of the fun. Read more
Published 14 days ago by blueclem
3.0 out of 5 stars Laborious Heller
Overrated and heavy going so called classic
Published 26 days ago by mp3
5.0 out of 5 stars In short, it is a must read!
I love this book and I think everyone should read it. You have to stick with it for a few chapters but once the point of it has clicked, you'll love it.
Published 1 month ago by TheBob623
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