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Catch-22 | [Joseph Heller]

Catch-22

Catch-22 is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever, even if he has to die in the attempt.)
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Nearly 50 years after it changed the American lexicon, Catch-22 is as biting and relevant in its satire of war and bureaucracy as when it was first published. Jay O. Sanders delivers a near-perfect performance. He uses his naturally deep, vaguely military tone to wring every bit of irony from Heller's prose, while bringing the cast of characters to life with some of the funniest performances I've heard on audio. —Ed Walloga

Publisher's Summary

Catch-22 is like no other novel we have ever read. It has its own style, its own rationale, its own extraordinary character. It moves back and forth from hilarity to horror. It is outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is totally original.

It is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever, even if he has to die in the attempt.)

Catch-22 is a microcosm of the 20th-century world as it might look to someone dangerously sane. It is a novel that lives and moves and grows with astonishing power and vitality. It is, we believe, one of the strongest creations of the mid-century.

©1955, 1961 Joseph Heller; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

"An apocalyptic masterpiece." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"One of the most bitterly funny works in the language...explosive, bitter, subversive, brilliant." (The New Republic)
"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." (New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (2050 )
5 star
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4.2 (1117 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Michael Meridian, ID, United States 03-12-11
    Michael Meridian, ID, United States 03-12-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    "Disappointed and Annoyed"

    I had no idea what this book was about, but knew it was supposed to be a classic. There is too much sarcasm and cynicismin in life, and the last thing I wanted was a drawn out book written this way. I couldn't finish it. I guess it was written well, but I'm just not in the mood for this style these days. There was no intrigue, no interesting characters, no interesting story line. Just sarcasm.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Orefield, PA, United States 03-06-11
    Ann Orefield, PA, United States 03-06-11 Member Since 2010

    vballannie

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    17
    3
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    "Too much of the title"

    I know this is a classic and stunning for its introduction to many literary methods, but it was a little hard to finish. It seems that everything had to be forced into following the title to the point I just wanted to scream "ok, I get it!" The constant ironies drowned out any sense of a plot and became tedious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Sterling, VA, United States 02-12-11
    Ann Sterling, VA, United States 02-12-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Weird and wonderful!"

    I was LOST at first listening to this book until I looked it up on Wiki and got 2 tips: one was that the timeline is not linear, there are backflashes and foreflashes - BIG HELP - and the other was a list of characters. Just scanning through the list once helped cement in my mind who was who - helpful in an audiobook where it's not so easy to flip back a few pages to refresh yourself re: who is who. Anyhow, the nonlinear timeshifts turned out to be exciting in the audio version. The characters - Jay Sanders did BEYOND outstanding not only differentiating them but also characterizing them - what a GREAT job narrating! I can't speak highly enough of Sanders! Catch-22 has been part of our culture for the last 40 or 50 years, so I don't need to rave on about the book itself. Actually, from my perspective, it's the various components of the book - the characters, the non-linearity, the proverbial "catch-22", the hospital, the repetitive bombing runs, etc - that make up the story almost more that the story itself (perhaps because the story gets kind of lost in the components, especially the time shifts). Anyhow, it was a wonderful, dark, scary, confusing, funny listen, sort of a grown-up "Alice in Wonderland" - Highly Recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dustin Walton, KY, United States 01-30-11
    Dustin Walton, KY, United States 01-30-11 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    "Was probably great, at one time"

    If you're into slapstick fiction then this could be an interesting read, unfortunately this book just hasn't aged well. It was probably amazing when it was released, but like anything amazing and original in any medium, others "borrow" from it; and since it was written so long ago they've been "borrowing" for a long time. The comedic elements which were probably fresh fifty years ago, just seem stale today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Austin, TX, United States 01-22-11
    Jennifer Austin, TX, United States 01-22-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    21
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    "A study in absurdity"

    Be ready to follow events that are completely out of time sequence and characters who are beyond eccentric and well into absurd. The narration is great and captures all the different personalities and emotion of the bombardiers who would love to grounded, but who are trapped by an insane Colonel into flying seemingly endless numbers of dangerous missions. The male characters are much more sympathetic and I did find the book to be more than a little sexist with depictions of women that were one-dimensional and completely reliant on their physicality, of which there are only two types--sexy and non-sexy. There were long sections of this book that I found it tough to get through, in which you were hearing from a character that was just nuts in a way that was not very compelling for me. Other sections were very gripping and I am glad that I know this classic of American lit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Berkeley, CA, United States 11-04-10
    Charles Berkeley, CA, United States 11-04-10 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
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    Overall
    "Better than reading the book!"

    The superb performance by the narrator, Jay O. Sanders, brings Catch-22 to life, making the complex unstuck-in-time story flow naturally. After hearing this version, I appreciate this masterpiece of Heller's writing, and understand the characters far better than after reading the novel- they seem so convincing. I wish there was a sequel- I keep replaying sections and chuckling over the zany, ironic, and tragic moments.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Swanson los angeles 11-02-10
    G. Swanson los angeles 11-02-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "Very entertaining but a bit lengthy"

    The reader is excellent, the book is wonderful. I had to rewind time after time because the writing is so witty and so satirical you need to listen to certain monologues or conversations several times to get the underlying humor behind the insanity. To put a tangible comparison, this novel is like M*A*S*H but about 100 times crazier.

    The only issue I had is that it is a very long reading, so you need to dedicate some time to this one. And the complicated dialogue can take it's toll on your mind after hours and hours of listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thunderdog 08-28-10
    Thunderdog 08-28-10 Member Since 2007
    ratings
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    29
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    "Classic, must have book"

    Having seen the movie and finding it hilarious and moving, I wasn't sure if the book would live up to my expectations. It did! I find it interesting some of the reviewers just don't get the humor. Don't let them detour you from trying it. If you "get" it, it will be on the top of your best loved book list.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandon independence, MO, United States 08-23-10
    Brandon independence, MO, United States 08-23-10 Member Since 2009
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    12
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    "Most entertaining book i ever read!"

    This is easily the best book i have ever read. The Narrator, Jay O Sanders, is amazing. You feel his passion and he mastered the art of dialog when the characters have conversations with eachother.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yelena 08-23-10
    Yelena 08-23-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
    Overall
    "Good book, bad narrator"

    Hard to listen to. Re-started listening to this book three times and never got beyond half of part one. There is something about the way this book is narrated that makes it very hard to concentrate on. I listen to audiobooks all the time, and this is one of my worst experiences.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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