- Paperback: 463 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 4, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684833395
- ISBN-13: 978-0684833392
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 1,765 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Catch-22 Paperback – September 4, 1996
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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.
John W. Aldridge The New York Times Book Review A monumental artifact of contemporary American literature, almost as assured of longevity as the statues on Easter Island...Catch-22 is a novel that reminds us once again of all that we have taken for granted in our world and should not, the madness we try not to bother and notice, the deceptions and falsehoods we lack the will to try to distinguish from truth. -- Review
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Centering around Yossarian, the bombardier afraid of dying, the novel circles through events, showing them from different characters' perspectives at different times. Joseph Heller masterfully takes the reader in and out of the minds of the large cast of characters, back and forth in time seamlessly.
The book is raw, horrifying, infuriating, sarcastic, and surprisingly funny, depicting the insanity of war (or really of any enterprise) conducted by a mindless bureaucracy. Not a light read, not the kind of book I would ordinarily read but one I highly recommend because of the brilliance and depth of the writing.