There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller is a highly acclaimed book that takes a dark and humorous look at self sustaining craziness of bureaucracies particularly a military one during World War II. The book centers around a character named Yossarian who is a bombardier based in Italy as the allied forces are moving towards Germany. Yossarian, after one too many close calls decides he is going to do whatever it takes to play every trick in the book to keep from flying missions. The other problem to his plan is that there always seems to be some sort of catch and it gets him every time.
Yossarian comes into contact with a number of humorous and bizarre characters that place him in ridiculous and sometimes tragic circumstances. Throughout the story the reader gets to tag along with Yossarian on his quest to live and is determined to be immortal or die trying. As Yossarian tries to retake control of us own life he comes up against his superior officers like Colonel Cathcart who routinely volunteers his men for the most dangerous missions so he can get noticed by his superiors.
Catch 22 uses irony and dark humor to show how absurd war and bureaucracies can be. Its title has entered the lexicon and I had found myself saying Catch 22 long before I have ever read the novel. It can be a bit difficult of a read because the events in the book are not sequenced and are told from differing points of views. It is a novel that makes more sense the further you get into the novel. I would not personally say this is one of the top books I have ever read, but it is worth a read that will get you thinking about the ironic situations we all face when we go up against impersonal bureaucratic powers. I give Catch 22 three and half shells out of five.