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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback – April 5, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1451626650 ISBN-10: 1451626657 Edition: 50 Anv

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There was a time when reading Joseph Heller's classic satire on the murderous insanity of war was nothing less than a rite of passage. Echoes of Yossarian, the wise-ass bombardier who was too smart to die but not smart enough to find a way out of his predicament, could be heard throughout the counterculture. As a result, it's impossible not to consider Catch-22 to be something of a period piece. But 40 years on, the novel's undiminished strength is its looking-glass logic. Again and again, Heller's characters demonstrate that what is commonly held to be good, is bad; what is sensible, is nonsense.

Yossarian says, "You're talking about winning the war, and I am talking about winning the war and keeping alive."
"Exactly," Clevinger snapped smugly. "And which do you think is more important?"
"To whom?" Yossarian shot back. "It doesn't make a damn bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead."
"I can't think of another attitude that could be depended upon to give greater comfort to the enemy."
"The enemy," retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on."
Mirabile dictu, the book holds up post-Reagan, post-Gulf War. It's a good thing, too. As long as there's a military, that engine of lethal authority, Catch-22 will shine as a handbook for smart-alecky pacifists. It's an utterly serious and sad, but damn funny book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It would be difficult to imagine richer material for an audiobook reader, comedically speaking, than Joseph Heller's classic novel of wartime madness. Sanders is the lucky actor chosen to read Heller's masterpiece, and he does well by it, proceeding gamely through the novel's staggering array of comic set pieces and deliriously woozy dialogue. Heller's humor is straight-faced, requiring little more than a steady, sure voice, and Sanders offers just that. Line by line, joke by joke, Sanders reels through the marvelous phantasmagoria of Heller's World War II, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Caedmon's impressive package includes a 1970s-era recording of Heller reading selections from his book. Heller is a delightful contrast to Sanders, his slight lisp accentuating a marvelous Brooklyn accent. Heller reads as if with cigar perched on his lip and turns his novel into an extended borscht belt comic's riff.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 50 Anv edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451626657
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451626650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,279 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time (the sequel to Catch-22), and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in December 1999.

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Customer Reviews

The book is very funny.
Sunil Patel
While some people may not like the structure of the story I found it to be an amazing way to develop and characters and the book.
Wayne Marshall
Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is one such novel.
"wannabe-viking"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

256 of 280 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
CATCH-22 is masterful in so many ways. It begins as comic farce, proceeds to the increasingly surreal, and then transforms into a nightmarish tragedy before ending triumphantly. No novel that I know so successfully blends all these disparate moods. I believe it was Hugh Walpole who wrote, "Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel." No book illustrates that better than this novel. This truly is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It is also one of the most tragic.

CATCH-22 also introduces one of the most insane collection of great characters in fiction: Yossarian, the Chaplain, Orr, ex-P.F.C Wintergreen, Milo Minderbender, Maj. Major Major Major, Nately, Doc Daneeka, Danby, General Dreedle, Nately's girl (not the description in the book, but Amazon's software will bleep it), Cathcart, Nurse Duckett, The Texan, Major ----- de Coverley, The Soldier in White, and a host of other characters. It is one of the most gloriously populated novels of the past half century.

This is a novel I can almost not discuss except through superlatives: greatest war novel I have read, funniest novel I have ever read, greatest English language novel of the past 60 years. But the best thing is that it is, on top of being a superb book, an exceedingly fun book to read. Even at its nightmarish, this is a fun, delightful book. And few novels contain as many unforgetable moments as this one.
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106 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Zinta Aistars on July 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
For so many of us growing up in the USA, our high school teachers assigned us Joseph Heller's "Catch-22" as required reading, and I was among those assignees. I'm not sure why the requirement, other than perhaps some Catch-22 type of logic that everyone else was assigning it, so there, must be great, must read. I don't particularly remember liking the novel then, perhaps with no more substantial of a reason than -- just not my style. Reading the novel now, in midlife, my opinion (or my literary style) has changed little, but today, I can attempt to add to "not my style" perhaps a few deeper insights.

In this second read, I realize what so fails to appeal to me is Heller's slapstick, absurdist, repetitive and dizzyingly circular style of storytelling. At the same time, I fully realize this is also the appeal of the novel for many: it's absurdity. Indeed, time has tested Heller's topic of war having little logic or reason in the real world, mostly born of individual and governmental insanity, power plays and mere whim, male ego clashing and chest thumping. Few wars seem to have good reason for happening when one considers all the other possibilities of resolution. While leaders sit safely in secure offices on fortressed hilltops, the common soldier takes all the risks, offers up his/her body for battering, endures indescribable torments in battle, and often gives the ultimate sacrifice of life. Shall we debate the virtues of boxing rings for political leaders instead? Yes, war is absurd. And Heller captures this "crazy-making" truth in a crazy-making novel in which characters dance to illogical commands, spin in frustration, and dig themselves in ever deeper as they try harder and harder to dig themselves out. You know... as in war.
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116 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Nick Jurewicz on March 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I would first like to inform other reviewers that I am a high school junior, read this as part of a choice novel project, and had no trouble grasping the ideas that Joseph Heller presented within his Catch-22.
The sarcastic attitude of this novel is conspicuous, and all bonds with reality are dropped with the first character introductions. The humor that has previously been criticized I found to be easy to understand, not monotonous, and a unique aspect to illustrate WW2. This is not to say the humor is for all, because Heller uses many paradoxes (look up definition of "catch-22"), simple one line contradictions, and subtle word choices to draw a laugh-all which represent the personality of the novel.
Yes, there are many characters, probably over fifty, yet grasping the names is not important at all times. Of course you quickly get associated with Yossarian and the other main characters, and chapter do reintroduce people from the early parts of the book. This may be annoying, yet each character is distinct, and there is little chance of confusing Milo, and entrepeneur, with Havermeyer, the elite pilot. In truth, the novel lacks a linear time, but chooses, rather, to define the novel through numerous character sketches, focusing them loosely around Yossarian. By the later chapters of the novel, Heller subtly introduces the gruesome truths of the war, balancing the early humor with more realistic look. It is through this transition that the weight of the situation is elucidated, and by contrasting the final chapters with the first, Heller is able to attract our attention and force us to analyze the war.
What is the novel about?
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
When I was in high school, my English teacher introduced me to the absurdity of war. We were assigned to read "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by the great war poet Wilfred Owen. This poem refuted the "old lie", Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - How sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country. After reading this poem, I suddenly realized how wasteful and utterly senseless war is, especially for the unfortunate people who must put their life on the line.
One day, I was in a second-hand bookstore, and by chance spotted a copy of "Catch-22." I had no idea what the book was about, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop. This book, like Owen's poem, describes how frightening and pointless war is to the soldier. However, while Owen uses gory details to bring forth his ideas, Heller uses satire.
This book captures the personal fears and opinions of the troubled bombadier, Yossarian. He does not know why he has to be there, and he certainly does not want to die.
Yossarian stated that he didn't care if this opinion made the enemy happy. He said that the enemy is anybody who wants to kill you, and it was his superior who kept sending him out to get killed...This makes me wonder about the millions of soldiers throughout time, for this thought must have passed through some of their minds at some desperate point. The old men who instigate and plan wars are not the ones who will die. Rather, they send people out to die for *their* cause.
As you can see, this book really made me think. Yes, I thought, I laughed till I cried, then I cried for the senselessness of it all. Heller is a genius!
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