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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 (1966 )
5 star
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4.0 (1051 )
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Story
4.2 (1038 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    David Hollister, CA, USA 03-29-08
    David Hollister, CA, USA 03-29-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    60
    ratings
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    188
    19
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    FOLLOWING
    2
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    Overall
    "A timeless classic"

    Why did I wait so long? This is a terrific story that is a must read, performed masterfully by the narrator in this audiobook. I don't want to give anything away, but I would give this 6 stars if I could.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Charlottesville, VA, USA 01-01-08
    David Charlottesville, VA, USA 01-01-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    "Interesting but Frantic"

    Here is a book that catches your attention, contains some legitimately funny parts, and really lays the smack down on beaurocracy and the realities of war. If you want an uplifting book, this isn't it. But if you hate war and desire to fight the power, this will catch your interest. You must concentrate while listening- there's quite a bit of stream-of-consciousness stuff.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Delmar, NY USA 04-23-08
    Amazon Customer Delmar, NY USA 04-23-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    75
    ratings
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    "Rather tedious"

    I'm a frequent reader / infrequent writer of reviews. Generally, I find the reviews on Audible to be helpful. I decided to write this one because I just couldn't believe how much I *disliked* this book, considering all the high ratings and positive reviews. In a word, after enduring most of the first part of this book, I found it extremely "tedious". I am probably missing the point somehow, but the writer clearly thinks the book is quite funny. In fact, as a previous reviewer pointed out, it is funny the same way ~15 hours of an Abbott and Costello "who's on first?" skit would be funny. In the end, I just didn't have the stamina, or the time to waste.

    5 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    teribk 04-20-08
    teribk 04-20-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "An alternate universe"

    It seems like people either love or hate this book. I tried hard, but could not get past the first two hours of the book. Many like this kind of sardonic humor, but this book's endless, circular self-absorbed logic with no hint of a plot left me cold. I wanted to engage in a classic, but after two hours, refused to waste the time. It is my first real disappointment with an Audible selection.

    5 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-13-07
    04-13-07 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
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    88
    25
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    "Could not finish"

    For the first time ever, I could not finish a book. I can not tell you if the book is good or not, but I can tell you that it is impossible to listen to. The narrator seems good, but I hate HATE that he goes from soft to loud. I can not hear the narrating unless I turn up the volume, then, when he reads a part of the character it is like someone blasting out my eardrums. I listen to the books in the car and I can not constantly adjust the volume. I hated this. Total waste of money.

    9 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Centerville, GA, United States 07-04-12
    Bill Centerville, GA, United States 07-04-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It just wasn't for me. Repetitive and nonsensical."

    I read all the glowing reviews, and was so determined that this classic would be one of my best reads ever, but I was disappointed. The best I could do was try to appreciate the comedic effort, and it just plain fell way short. Yes, there were some funny moments that amounted to about 15% of the book, but the majority of the humor was repetitive and nonsensical, like listening to 20 hours of who's on first. I also didn't find the portrayal of most Military personnel as stumbling buffoons very amusing, it ended up just seeming stupid. The bright spot was the excellent narration.Sorry though, can't recommend it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frederick COLLEYVILLE, TX, United States 03-28-12
    Frederick COLLEYVILLE, TX, United States 03-28-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Horrible story...."
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    Well read, but horrible story.


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    No.


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    No.


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    Noting.


    Do you have any additional comments?

    Horrible story, not funny, did not go anywhere.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    william ATLANTA, GA, United States 03-01-11
    william ATLANTA, GA, United States 03-01-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "tedious drudgery"

    This was a tedious and repetitive novel that I brought me great joy to finish only because I had been tortured by its monotony for 42 agonizing chapters. The author attempts to lampoon the idiocy of war by constructing an environment were every character is unrealistically moronic. It has the depth of plot of "I Love Lucy", and the dialog of "Gomer Pile". Wading through the chapters of dialog between intellectually challenged characters was like watching Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" 42 times in a row. I can't understand why this book has been praised by critics, but than again, I am not a sophomoric pseudo intellectual with unrealized aspirations and authority issues, otherwise reading such a book might make me feel better about myself.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Rhoderick Frederick, MD USA 04-14-10
    J. Rhoderick Frederick, MD USA 04-14-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    181
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    Story
    "Over the top and confusing at times, but enjoyable"

    The problem with absurdist fiction is that it feels disingenuous, as if the author forced his characters to behave absurdly simply to amuse himself, not because it added to the story. As a result, Catch-22 is mediocre at best.

    At first, the story's chronology was difficult to follow. One moment Yossarian is dreading an upcoming mission to Bologne. The next moment -- and I mean literally the next sentence -- he isn't even at Pianosa yet. The next, he is in Rome on leave, which may or may not be the present, and then we find out the mission is over. I was exhausted by constantly trying to figure out where I was in the story. And there were huge chunks of the story that were frivolous, like the many pointless chapters we spent with the prostitutes in Rome.

    Catch-22 has a cast of brilliantly zany and memorable characters. Unfortunately, many are too stupid to be believable. I assume Heller was trying to highlight the incompetence of people in positions of power -- particularly when those people are sending others off to die -- but their stupidity was so overwhelming that they became caricatures. I'm sure Heller got a kick out of writing these characters, but I didn't enjoy reading about them. I couldn't laugh because I knew they couldn't be real. Even the wildest of fantasy novels have to stay within defined limits to maintain credibility with the reader, but Catch-22 does no such thing. The world of Catch-22 is completely illogical.

    Despite its shortcomings, Catch-22 shines in some of the strangest places and some its scenes, absurd or not, have been memorable enough to embed themselves within our culture and our literary history. At times I was laughing out loud, and then there were other times, such as when Yossarian administered first aid to Snowden, that left me feeling like a ghost.

    Jay O. Sander's narration is brilliant. His cadence is perfect, his accents realstic, and his reading of Orr's dialogue was hilarious. Sanders is one of the best.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jovan Baltimore, MD, USA 01-24-08
    Jovan Baltimore, MD, USA 01-24-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    112
    5
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    0
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    Overall
    "Difficult to get through but a catch at the end"

    With all of the circular logic this book is somewhat difficult to follow. I thought that all of the characters were idiots and there was no point to the story. However, if you enjoy movies and books with surprise endings, this is the book for you. Just make sure you're paying attention!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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