Joseph Heller

  • From the Publisher
July 25, 2014

Catch-22 is like no oth­er nov­el. It is one of the fun­ni­est books ever writ­ten, a key­stone work in Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture, and even added a new term to the dictionary.

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 efforts are per­fect­ly under­stand­able because as he furi­ous­ly scram­bles, thou­sands of peo­ple he has­n’t even met are try­ing to kill him. 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 mis­sions that he is com­mit­ted to fly­ing, he is trapped by the Great Loy­al­ty Oath Cru­sade, the hilar­i­ous­ly sin­is­ter bureau­crat­ic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is con­sid­ered insane if he will­ing­ly con­tin­ues to fly dan­ger­ous com­bat mis­sions, but if he makes the nec­es­sary for­mal request to be relieved of such mis­sions, the very act of mak­ing the request proves that he is sane and there­fore inel­i­gi­ble to be relieved.

While it’s not heavy on Jew­ish con­tent, Heller’s back­ground and rep­u­ta­tion as a Jew­ish-amer­i­can author make Catch-22 a valu­able addi­tion to any col­lec­tion of Jew­ish Literature.

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