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Catch-22 (Catch-22 #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  557,743 Ratings  ·  13,133 Reviews
At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war.

His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous mission
Paperback, 453 pages
Published September 4th 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1961)
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Eanna Mcgarrigle It's brilliant. It's just so funny... bit hard to get into with the timeline all over the place, but the humour brings it through. The characters are…moreIt's brilliant. It's just so funny... bit hard to get into with the timeline all over the place, but the humour brings it through. The characters are amazing and in general, it is a fantastic book. One of my all-time favourites.(less)
Jean Cole Mundane is not a word that comes to mind. That would imply unimaginative and similar to others in its category. This book is anything but ordinary.…moreMundane is not a word that comes to mind. That would imply unimaginative and similar to others in its category. This book is anything but ordinary. I'm not finished with it so I haven't had a chance to consider my final opinion, but mundane? Absolutely not.(less)

Community Reviews

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May 21, 2007 Chris marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
I have attempted to read this book on two separate occasions and I couldn't get beyond 100 pages either time. I do believe that this has more to do with me than the book and I plan on making a third attempt at some point in the future.

Currently it sits on my bookshelf and sometimes (when I have a few too many beers) we have a talk.

Me: Hi.
Catch-22: Oh, hi.
Me: How are you feeling?
Catch-22: I've been better.
Me: Don't be upset. It's not you. It's me.
Catch-22: I know that.
Me: My friends tell me I'm
Catch-22-cover-1 v2

A shiny new batch of awesome for my "all time favorite" shelf. It has been awhile since I’ve so throughly enjoyed reading a novel that has, at the same time, left me as intellectually awestruck as Joseph Heller’s classic sermon on the insanity of war.

What a sublime, literary feast. To prepare:

1. Start with a surrealistic, Kafkaesque worldview basted in chaos;

2. Knead in a plot reminiscent of Pynchon, taking particular care that the bizarre, placidly disjointed surface fully camouflages the pow
Sep 11, 2007 Lori rated it did not like it
I suffered through about 60 pages, and finally put it down. I very rarely ever leave a book unfinished.

The author narrates and introduces us to Yossarian, who does not want to fly in the war. I get that. I get the whole catch 22 scenerio... You have to be insane to fly the plane. If you can get a dr to say you are insane, you wont have to fly. But in order to tell a dr that you are insane, this actually means you are sane. So you must continue to fly... which makes you insane. blah blah blah.

Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 20, 2013 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
”You mean there’s a catch?”
“Sure there’s a catch, “ Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be
Jun 06, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
The following is an example of how many conversations in this book took place.

Jen: I didn't like this book.
Nigel: Why didn't you like the book?
Jen: I did like the book.
Nigel: You just said you didn't like the book.
Jen: No I didn't.
Nigel: You're lying.
Jen: I don't believe in lying.
Nigel: So you never lie?
Jen: Oh yes, I lie all the time.
Nigel: You just said you don't believe in it.
Jen: I don't believe in it, Jen said as she ate a chocolate covered cotton ball.
Nigel: Well I liked the book.
Jen: Fabu
Dec 18, 2016 Fino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm, where to start with a book like this one. A book that is a third Kafka, a third Vonnegut, a third Pynchon and completely insane? For the first 200 or 250 pages, it is like a broken record or a movie loop with Sisyphus rolling that boulder up a hill in American WWII battle fatigues (and a flight suit and a Mae West life preserver sans the inflation module thanks the M&M Enterprises). Then, when the flak starts flying and the blood is splattered everywhere it is intense right up until the ...more
Barry Pierce
I have had Catch-22 on my bookshelf for years. It was one of those novels that I've said, "oh I'll get around to that in 2012". It didn't happen. "Maybe 2013". Nope. And so on until just a couple of days ago. I've got to stop putting books off.

Rarely has a piece of literature ticked so many of my boxes. Satire, farce, gallows humour, irreverence, it's as if this book were written entirely for me. I loved every word on every page of this book. I cannot find a single miniscule fault anywhere with
Jun 20, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
This book was utterly misrepresented to me before I read it. For some reason I'd always thought it had been published the same year as Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and was considered as representing the other fork of post World War II American literature apart from Pynchon's--this the conventional, plot-driven one catering to stupid people. Some professor or some didact must have told me that, enrroenously as it turns out, once. Catch 22 predates the Pynchon masterpeice by 15 years, and is in sty ...more
Feb 06, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-kindle, 2012, reviewed
Catch-22 reminds me a lot of those comedy/tragedy masks—you know the ones that are supposed to represent like, fine theater or something? Not that I’m comparing Catch-22 to some great Italian opera. All I’m saying is that the book oscillates cleverly between the absurdly humorous and the grievingly tragic.

So it starts off on the hilarious side. Here’s a bit that had me giggling aloud (rather embarrassingly, I might add, as I was surrounded by other people at the time):
The colonel dwelt in a vor
Jul 30, 2007 Steve rated it really liked it
I’m not sure if it’s a talent or an affliction, but I’ve been blessed or cursed with a penchant for taking someone else’s creative work and extrapolating it to skewed extremes. That explains my yet-to-be-published collection of fan fiction, unauthorized sequels, and twists in perspective. I first discovered this talent/affliction as a boy when I imagined a fourth little pig who leveraged himself to the hilt, built a luxury skyscraper, and, with YUGE block letters at its base, labelled it Pig Tow ...more
Teresa Jusino
Aug 12, 2007 Teresa Jusino rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readandreviewed
"I really do admire you a bit. You're an intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand. I'm an intelligent person with no moral character at all, so I'm in an ideal position to appreciate it." - Colonel Korn, Catch-22

I really appreciate it when a book respects the intelligence of its readership. If a book is going to be "experimental" in any way, I love those that throw you into a world with no explanations - a literary baptism of fire (ie: Orwell's "Animal Fa
Shayantani Das
Aug 20, 2011 Shayantani Das rated it it was amazing
ooof exhausting story !! I will get back to it later(in 2050 perhaps).

Finally finished on 4 February 2012(not 2050 :p)

I did it! I finished it! I finished the book. And I am alive!!!


The review

This book is pure unadulterated madness. There is a harem of characters and all of them are crazy. And not just silly crazy; more like annoying crazy! Milo, Aarfy, Whitcomb, these characters will make you want to either shoot them, or shoot yourself. The missions are crazy, Doc Danneka is crazy. The plot i
Brian Yahn
Aug 06, 2013 Brian Yahn rated it really liked it
Hands down, this is the funniest book I've ever read. Some of Heller's sentences are so witty and hilarious that I had to not only laugh out loud, but set the book down after trying to continue on--and laugh out loud some more to fully appreciate all the wit. That being said, the style of humor gets old. After a while, it feels like reading Seinfeld screenplays for hours on end.

The crazy ironic predicaments Yosarian, the focal character, finds himself in are pure genius. And some of the subplots
Nandakishore Varma
Sep 29, 2011 Nandakishore Varma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, humour
Years ago, while I was (unsuccessfully) searching for a job in the Middle East, I met a career consultant.

"How do I land a job in the Middle East?" I asked.

"Well, for that you need experience," he told me, scratching his chin.

"But I have eighteen years of experience!" I protested.

"That may be so," he said. "What I meant was - you need Gulf experience."

"But I can't get that unless I get a job in the Gulf," I pointed out.

"Yes, I know." He said serenely. "You see, that's the catch..."
Feb 24, 2008 jill rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who like to be bored.
Absurdist plays are one act for a reason.

Seriously, I know there were points to make about the repetitive ridiculousness of bureaucracy/war/capitalism/life, but over 450 pages of variations on the Catch-22 joke?

I did find myself more affected than I would have guessed by some of the deaths, and some of the lines were clearly awesome.

Underlined bits:
In a world in which success was the only virtue, he had resigned himself to failure.(277, about the Chaplain)
Because he needed a friend so desperat
Tyler Jones
A word of warning - the following has more to do with my life than it has to do with the novel Catch-22. If you don't give a fig about me then just skip this.

As I mentioned in my note about War with the Newts, 1985 was the worst year of my life. I was a deeply depressed eighteen year old. My parents tried their best to help me. For my mom this meant finding me the best counselling possible, and for my dad this meant showing me that the world itself was crazy and I was quite right to feel alienat
Aug 13, 2007 Juliet rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: high schoolers
Shelves: recently-read
Maybe there's a reason this book is usually required high school reading; it reads like it was written by a 17-year old. Someone who clearly finds himself to be hilarious, and no one ever had the heart to tell him differently.

I never felt for any of the characters, I never laughed, I never cried. In fact, half way through the book I couldn't take it anymore, so I skipped ahead to the last chapter and yet it still made sense. I'm sorry, but if nothing happens in the second half of a book to impac
Dec 13, 2015 Carol rated it liked it
I realize that CATCH 22 is said to be one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century, but it was just not my cup of tea. I found it confusing at first and when I did sort out the storyline, had to force myself to stay with the repetition of it all. (Still worth 3 Stars though for its uniqueness.)

If you want to read a dark satire about the atrocities of war where a U.S. Army bombardier fights to retain his sanity in a world of contradictions, this 1961 classic is for you.

Jun 27, 2010 Pouga rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished-in-2011
Never have I been pulled through the entire spectrum of emotion quite as enjoyably as this, with Heller ingeniously switching tones on a dime with a magician's charm. One moment I was laughing like a fool, and the next I was clenching my jaw with agony at the horrors of the war; thankfully for my taste, Heller leaned more on the comedic/optimistic side.

Reading Catch-22 was sort of like watching a brilliantly shining coin flipping through a majestic parabola in slow motion, with one side represe

Insanity is contagious.

O man, it’s really crazy. I doubt if I could say anything revealing about Catch 22. It’s been ages I read it for the first time and it was like a breath of fresh air in a stale room. If you grew up in an oppressive country where mediocrity was a virtue and a lot of stuff banned, where many situations felt like infamous Catch 22, when it was safer just not saying about some things reading such absurd and grotesque stories allowed you, paradoxically, keep your common sense
Apr 19, 2010 chucklesthescot rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody on this planet even if I hate their guts
Worst book I've ever had the misfortune to pick up. My dad warned me that this book was lower on the evolution scale than a wet turd, but I thought I'd try it anyway. I hated this with every fibre in my body and with any luck the book will just crawl away and die.

The characters were obnoxious, moronic gits who I hoped would all die at the hands of Jason Vorhees very soon and there was no way I'd ever connect with that idiot who was meant to be our beloved hero. The dialogue was incomprehensible
Oct 28, 2007 Zinta rated it liked it
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 ...more
Sep 05, 2014 Annie rated it really liked it
This book is so true, it's ridiculous. This book is so false, it's maddening.
Yossarian, our unlikely hero along with his fellow bedmates in a military hospital and later with his platoon , lives amidst shelling, explosions, flying body parts and one very bonkers mess cook. He's an escapist, a realist, a leader and in cases even a pervert turned wannabe saviour. He is mad and then logical, depraved and then conscientious;but all throughout you shall love him.
Catch22 is ingenious, hilarious; e
Mar 08, 2013 Apatt rated it liked it
I can't review this one properly, I listened to it on audiobook over about a month and never really felt involved with it. Each time I resumed reading it I can barely recall what happened when I last paused it. I find this to be a very hard book to engage with due to its non-linear and fragmented structure. Each chapter tends to be a little vignette about the absurd situations experienced by the soldiers of the 256th squadron on the island of Pianosa, and each chapter more often than not does no ...more
Murat Dural
Feb 08, 2017 Murat Dural rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Josep Heller'in "Muhakkak okunması gereken 100 kitap" içinde olması dikkatimi çekmişti. Açık konuşmak gerekirse "bugüne kadar yazılmış en iyi traji-komik, taşlama eser" denmesi fazla abartılı gelmişti. İlk 100 sayfada zorlandığımı, abartıya olan inancımın yükseldiğini hissettim. İşin içinde askeri bir takım yerler, nesneler, kişiler olması da beni biraz bunalttı fakat, fakat belli bir noktadan sonra yazarın ne demek istediğine, diline, anlatımına, kurgularına alışınca elimden düşüremez oldum. 61 ...more
My relationship with this book was somewhat quixotic. The first few chapters made me smile- in a bitter, ironic, wise-at-life sort of way of course. I loved the cleverness and deceptive punch-you-in-the-side way that Heller made his points, wrapped up in the whirling, hilariously awful world that he's created in depicting a tired, worn out unit towards the end of WWII in Italy. The choice of the main character in the bombardier Yossarian, a man who saw one too many horrors, is perfect. His quest ...more
May 28, 2012 Perry rated it it was amazing
A comic masterpiece set in Italy in WWII [4 stars, bumped up 1 star for making me laugh so much]

“If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.”―Robert Frost

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you” -- Joseph Heller, Catch-22

The book starts out with the primary character being assigned to censor letters that are going to folks back home from the soldiers staying at a military hospital. He invents games to make the task more fun, such as "death to all modifiers" (out came al
Kye Alfred Hillig
Dec 13, 2008 Kye Alfred Hillig rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Hands down my favorite book of all time. The humor of this novel is write up my alley. I would go as far as admitting that I have used the book as a test and those who don't like it don't get me and those who do, do. I love how things snowball in this book and something that seems small at first by the end of the book is a huge avalanche of laughter. This book boasts one of the largest casts of any book I have ever read but I kept track of all of them when reminded and loved them all dearly. The ...more
David Sarkies
Dec 05, 2015 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like absurdist literature
Recommended to David by: Kylie
Shelves: modernist
The Absurdity of Bureaucracy
17 December 2015

Well, the one thing that you can say about this book is that it introduced a new phrase into the English language – Catch-22, which basically means that you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. If we are to say that this is its only achievement then I have to say that it is one pretty awesome achievement because it seems to have pretty much become a staple of our language. In fact people who have never even read the book, let alone heard of i
Riku Sayuj
Feb 04, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing

Single Quote Review:

"...even to laugh is only an imperfect expression of the real ridicule of life. For it to be perfect one ought properly to be serious.

The most perfect mockery of life would be if the person who propounded the deepest truth were not a dreamer but a doubter. And that isn’t inconceivable, for no one can propound the positive truth as excellently as a doubter, except that he himself doesn’t believe in it. If he were a hypocrite the joke would be on him; if he were a doubter who
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Joseph Heller was the son of poor Jewish parents from Russia. Even as a child, he loved to write; at the age of eleven, he wrote a story about the Russian invasion of Finland. He sent it to New York Daily News, which rejected it. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1941, Heller spent the next ye
More about Joseph Heller...

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Catch-22 (2 books)
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“He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.” 3133 likes
“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.” 2820 likes
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