Book Review: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Grade: A+

A “new classic” that puts an hilarious postmodern spin on war. Published in the era of gung-ho GI-Joe John Wayne war movies, Catch-22 showcases the utter absurdity of war and, relentlessly, the hierarchy of the armed forces. Not that this book diminishes those serving in the armed forces–by any means–but merely points out how ridiculous the whole “business” of war is.

The titular Catch-22? The main character, a pilot named Yossarian, wants to leave the air force, but he can’t because his colonel keeps upping the number of flights required for honorable discharge. The only other way to be discharged is to be declared insane. But if Yossarian shows that he is insane (or pretends to be), but does not say anything, the superiors won’t declare him insane. On the other hand, if he does say something, that is proof enough that he is not, in fact, insane, so he can’t get out that way, either. Hence, the Catch-22.

Some parts of this novel will leave you rolling on the floor with laughter while others are so poignant that they’ll stick with you. Highly recommended if you were never required to read it in high school or college, and then still recommended anyway–sometimes books are infinitely more enjoyable when they don’t have the “required reading” label attached to them.

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3 responses to “Book Review: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

  1. Nice review. I loved this book, and I think there are only a couple laugh out loud sections (re: major major) though I did get a little frustrated for Yossarian as time after time the absurdities kept piling up before him. I refused to read this in high school, and had to really force myself to pick it up in college, and I’m very glad I did.

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