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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars -Insert the best phrase possible to suit this amazing piece of prose-
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...
Published on 13 Feb. 2010 by Ms. E. J. Curran

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars And here's the Catch...
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...
Published 16 months ago by Steve Cann


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars -Insert the best phrase possible to suit this amazing piece of prose-, 13 Feb. 2010
By 
Ms. E. J. Curran (Earth, I presume.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Catch-22 (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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143 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it or hate it, 24 Jan. 2005
By 
S. Pollard "spollardo" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Catch-22 (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars And here's the Catch..., 12 Oct. 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heller's classic satire rejuvenated on its 50th birthday, 22 Sept. 2011
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
It's sobering to realise that it's 50 years since Joseph Heller's biting satire `Catch 22' was first published. Through the 1960s and 70s, its famous title was slowly adopted into everyday idiomatic usage around the world and is now quoted by people who have never read the book and may not even know the origin of `Catch 22' to mean any `double-bind' situation designed to get you no matter which way you try to brook the system.

Heller's novel is themed on the way an unfeeling bureaucracy conspires to marginalize the individual. It covers the same ground as much of Franz Kafka's work (notably `The Trial') and has an Orwellian core, but `Catch 22' is much funnier than almost any other work of this loose genre and is a joy to read.

Earnest comedy combines with episodic chopped-up storytelling: on re-reading the book after several decades, it becomes obvious that Heller does in fact employ a tight and disciplined - though unorthodox - structure, where common themes are continually re-stated and reinforced with humor and for example the same scenes are described from the perspectives of different characters as the novel unfolds. Clever observation of the absurdity of bureaucratic thinking through a host of sharply-drawn and fleshed-out characters display human behavioural psychology in a way few other novels of the modern age manage to do. You put people in a situation like this, and this is what can happen: it all has its own peculiar logic where the insane can be comfortably in charge and the irrational appears normal. If you are prepared to exploit the system you can get away with almost anything, whereas if you follow the rules and demonstrate `patriotism' and `honor' - well, you're basically screwed.

The characters who populate Yossarian's world are hard to forget: General Dreedle, the Chaplain, ex-P.F.C Wintergreen, Major Major Major, (who had a rank created just for him, to exploit his unique name); the incomparable Milo Minderbender and his grandiose money-making syndicate extending even to trading with the enemy and contracting to fly missions for them; the comparatively sane and rational Doc Daneeka, who explains Catch 22 to Yossarian; Nately, Cathcart and the rest.

You could describe `Catch 22' as a comic-tragedy, but above all it's instructive and entertaining. If you've never read this 20th century classic and real, solid books with paper pages are your thing, you now have the chance to get yourself a new edition of the long-out-of-print paperback- the `50th Anniversary Edition'. Go on, treat yourself.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond great, 11 Jan. 2005
By 
ZDDQ140770 - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
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?). This IS the great novel of the 21st century, as it describes a world when lunacy and illogic are the rules of the game- is this so out of place in a society where we spend more than we earn, where entertainment is looking at people like us, where freedom means removing liberty and education means idiocy?
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83 of 93 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Has it stood the test of time?, 26 Oct. 2011
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absurd masterpiece, 28 Dec. 2004
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
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. He is also not afraid of abandoning his absurd style for more disturbing images, such as Yossarian's walk through a foetid Rome in 'The Eternal City' or the final spilling of Snowden's secret, yet this is never done mawkishly or with over-sentimentality. This book gives you lots of reasons to despair, but some to hope, and many to laugh. It is epic in scope, unrelenting in its message and utterly wonderful. The twentieth century in 500 pages. Read it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A satirical masterpiece, 23 Jun. 2004
I recommend this novel as a magnificent satire on warfare and the human condition. Set in the Second World War in allied-conquered Italy, it contrives to be hilarious and tragic simultaneously. The hero of the novel, Yossarian, is an individual not afraid to declare his hatred for war and the novel is constructed around his many attempts to be allowed home. It demonstrates the pointlessness of war and the suffering of the pilots who flew bombing missions. It is, however, tremendously funny as each and every character is ridiculed. Heller satirises capitalism and commercialism through his entrepreneurial character Milo and this particular aspect of the book is incredibly funny in a gallows humour way. The novel is about madness, and the entrapment of everyone in the title of the work, Catch-22. One example of the many in the novel; Yossarian does not want to fly any more missions, but the only way he can get out of them is to be declared insane. Yet if he declares himself insane, the generals will know he is sane for wanting to get out of the missions in the first place, since only a mad person would want to fly the missions! It does not sensitively explore human relationships in warfare as Birdsong does but does well exhibit the weakness and selfishness of humans in times of adversity. War is not about comradeship, but survival of the fittest. Heller writes with incredible insight into the human condition, and his experience of serving as a bombardier in the war obviously has immensely influenced him. Although the context is the Second World War, what it has to say about the incompetence of leaders and the futility of war is relevant to any conflict. The novel is not particularly compassionate, is graphic, and does not refrain from heavy criticism of those who forced Yossarian into war and continued the conflict. Heller is to be applauded for such a controversial work since it was written not long after the war and first published in 1961. It is an anti-war novel like All Quiet on The Western Front but is much more like George Orwell's 1984 or Animal Farm in its satirical style. Much of his writing may outrage some readers, but if you want to read a satirical masterpiece set in a time of conflict, there is nothing better and if proof is needed of its popularity, it was voted well into Britain's top 21 books last year.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Classic!, 15 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Catch-22 (Paperback)
I recently reread this book for the first time in 25 years and it is still one of the funniest books I have ever read. Catch 22 demonstrates the absurdity of bureaucracy in war in a hilarious way. The most appealing attribute of the book is how it re-enforced catch 22 throughout the novel and you realize the concept is applicable not only in the military but also in the government, at the office, and even family. The characters are real flesh and bone and in the end I was sad to see them go. Anyone who enjoys watching the ineptitude of interoffice politics and bureaucracies will enjoy this book.
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