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.
Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time (the sequel to Catch-22), and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in December 1999.
"Catch-22 is the only war novel I've ever read that makes any sense." —Harper Lee
“One of the most bitterly funny works in the language . . . Explosive, bitter, subversive, brilliant.” —The New Republic
“To my mind, there have been two great American novels in the past fifty years. Catch-22 is one.” —Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
“This novel is not merely the best American novel to come out of World War II, it is the best American novel that has come out of anywhere in years.” —Nelson Algren, The Nation
“It’s the rock and roll of novels . . . There’s no book like it. . . . Surprisingly powerful.” —Norman Mailer, Esquire
“One of the greatest anti-war books ever written.” —Vanity Fair