Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition

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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition

by Joseph Heller
Introduction by Christopher Buckley

Simon & Schuster | April 5, 2011 | Trade Paperback

Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 2.
Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest—and most celebrated—books of all time. In recent years it has been named to “best novels” lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer.

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction by Christopher Buckley; a wealth of critical essays and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos from Joseph Heller’s personal archive; and much more. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 544 pages, 8.44 × 5.5 × 1.2 in

Published: April 5, 2011

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1451626657

ISBN - 13: 9781451626650

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!!! One of the funniest books I have ever had the pleasure of reading... and re-reading
Date published: 2014-09-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A big bang of a book that keeps banging like an ammo belt tossed into a fire Catch-22, which introduced the phrase into the English language, states a seemingly logical proposition that is really contradictory and self-defeating: The World War II American bomber and protagonist Yossarian must be crazy to put himself at risk by flying dangerous missions, yet if he tries to excuse himself from duty, he is proven sane and therefore cannot be relieved. It’s a laughable setup that Heller uses to great comic effect. He also clearly enjoys satirizing all kinds of deserving military characters, mowing them down like a trigger-happy turret-gunner. Catch-22 offers a wide cast of characters and situations, too many to keep straight, and a narrative that is also hard to keep track of at times. His language can be turgid too. It’s hard to read a line like “His globular, exophthalmic eyes were quite distraught” without groaning. That’s easily forgotten by some breathtakingly vivid descriptions of bombing missions, written by a firsthand witness as a WWII bombardier flying missions out of Corsica over Italy. There is also the sheer audacity and funniness of Heller’s situations, to say nothing of the characters who seem too outrageous to be true but in the theatre of war appear quite normal. There is Major Major who, after becoming a major, becomes Major Major Major. He looks like Henry Fonda and does an amazing job of avoiding coming into contact with anyone. Milo Minderbinder is a mess officer and one-man “syndicate” who deals with the enemy to fatten his own trading enterprise and ends up with the problem of chocolate covered Egyptian cotton. The late Christopher Hitchens, in a short essay at the end of this 50th anniversary of the 1961 classic novel, finds echoes in this crazy plot with that of Oliver North, who was caught up in a similar Iran contra arms scheme. (Life imitating art?) We have the soldier Mudd who was supposed to share Yossarian’s tent but died in combat before he could be registered. The army doesn’t recognize this “unknown soldier who never had a chance” and so officially it isn’t clear if there even is a Mudd (pun intended). Colonel Cathcart, Yossarian’s nemesis who keeps increasing the number of missions bombardiers must fly before they can be sent home, virtually ensuring they never get out alive, is a “slick, successful, slipshod, unhappy man of thirty-six who lumbered when he walked and wanted to be a general.” Doc Daneeka is afraid to fly because “in an airplane there was absolutely no place in the world to go except to another part of the airplane." He is declared dead from a mission that he didn’t participate in and his war widow reaps the benefits, refusing to believe his telegrams that he’s alive. We have a mysterious “soldier in white” who is encased in bandages in a hospital and may or may not be dead, may or may not be even inside the bandages. We have crazy prostitutes, a lusty nurse and photographer and at least one decent character, Chaplain Tappman. Heller introduces him in the first line of the novel by writing how “It was love at first sight” from the time Yossarian saw the chaplain “and fell madly in love with him.” So many situations, so many madmen and women, so much goddamned funny stuff. Problem is, war isn’t funny. It’s hell. And through your tears of laughter, Heller forces your eyes open to what hell looks like, where men fly “through swollen masses of new and old bursts of flak like rats racing in a pack through their own droppings.” Hell is especially vivid as the novel draws to a conclusion where Yossarian witnesses a host of horrors on the streets of Rome. It’s as if he left the pages of this novel and entered one of Dante’s circles of hell. The solution to Yossarian’s Catch-22 is perhaps the weakest part of the novel, as critic Robert Brustein points out in another essay. But it doesn’t mar Heller’s lampooning of a military bureaucracy and the foolishness of war. The author dishes it all out along with a message to those who, like Yossarian, find themselves getting tripped up in Catch-22. It’s that Catch-22 doesn’t exist, as the hero finds out, “but it made no difference. What did matter was that everyone thought that it existed, and that was much worse, for there was no object or text to ridicule or refute, to accuse, criticize, attack, amend, hate, revile, spit at, rip to shreds, trample upon or burn up.” Catch-22 is a wonderfully funny and jarring big bang of a book that keeps banging like an ammo belt tossed into a fire. It’s also wonderfully humane and Yossarian’s desperate attempt to survive and do right is noble. Near the end, Major Danby advises him to keep his values although “people are sometimes not so good.” Yossarian rejects the advice: “When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.” There’s nothing funny about that.
Date published: 2013-04-09

– More About This Product –

Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition

Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition

by Joseph Heller
Introduction by Christopher Buckley

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 544 pages, 8.44 × 5.5 × 1.2 in

Published: April 5, 2011

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1451626657

ISBN - 13: 9781451626650

About the Book

A fiftieth anniversary edition of "Catch-22, "one of the twentieth century's most revered novels.

Read from the Book

Catch-22 The Story of ‘Catch-22’ by Jonathan R. Eller It shouldn’t have survived the first printing. It was a first novel by a part-time writer who had published very little since the 1940s. It was a book that captured the feelings of helplessness and horror generated by the darker side of the American dream at a time when the general reading public still expected fiction to reflect a positive view of contemporary America and its hallowed institutions. The title was changed twice during presswork; as if that weren’t enough, someone who thought he was portrayed in the book threatened to sue, prompting a name change for one of the main characters after almost a year in print. But for a number of editors, advertisers, writers, and critics, reading the book echoed the opening line of the novel: “It was love at first sight.” This core of avid supporters kept the novel alive in the East Coast book market until word-of-mouth praise (and overnight bestseller status in Great Britain) took it to international prominence. In time, the title Catch-22 became a part of the English language, and Joseph Heller’s novel became an enduring part of American culture. Heller was not unknown in publishing circles prior to Catch-22. His first published work appeared in the fall 1945 issue of Story, an issue dedicated to short fiction by returning servicemen. For several years after the war, he wrote what he called “New Yorker–type” stories about Jewish life in Depression-era Brooklyn. Several of th
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From the Publisher

Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest—and most celebrated—books of all time. In recent years it has been named to “best novels” lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer.

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction by Christopher Buckley; a wealth of critical essays and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos from Joseph Heller’s personal archive; and much more. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.

About the Author

Christopher Buckley was born December 24, 1952. He is an American political satirist and the author of novels including God Is My Broker, Thank You for Smoking, Little Green Men, The White House Mess, No Way to Treat a First Lady, Wet Work, Florence of Arabia, Boomsday, Supreme Courtship, and, most recently, Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir. He is the son of William F. Buckley Jr. and Patricia Buckley. Buckley, like his father, graduated from Yale University, as a member of Skull and Bones. He became managing editor of Esquire Magazine and later worked as the chief speechwriter for Vice President George H. W. Bush. This experience led to his novel The White House Mess, a satire on White House office politics and political memoirs.

Editorial Reviews

“One of the greatest anti-war books ever written.” —Vanity Fair