At the heart of Joseph Heller's best-selling novel, first published in 1961, is a satirical indictment of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it.
This is the tale of the dangerously sane Captain Yossarian, who spends his time in Italy plotting to survive. Yossarian is a bombardier in the 256th Squadron of the US Army Air Forces during World War II, stationed on Pianosa, a fictionalised island in the Mediterranean between mainland Italy and Corsica. The squadron's assignment is to bomb enemy positions in Italy and eastern France. Yossarian's mission is simply to stay alive.
Listen to our insightful interview with narrattor Trevor White on the Audible.co.uk Podcast.
©1961 Joseph Heller; (P)2008 Hachette Audio
"The greatest satirical work in the English language since Erewhon. (Observer)
"Wildly original, and brutally gruesome, a dazzling performance that will outrage as many readers as it delights. Vulgarly, bitterly, savagely funny, it will not be forgotten by those who can take it." (The New York Times)
"An apocalyptic masterpiece." (Chicago Times)
It's easy to see why this book has cult status. The chapters explore each charater in great depth, but the key elements of the plot appear in a random order, with much repetition. The writing is also very exuberent, almost surreal. But chapter by chapter, much like the ritual chanting of ancient folklore, everything starts to fit together. And just at that point the whole story moves beyond humour, it trips you up with moments of great sadness. This may be about the absurdity of war, but from within this spinning multi-coloured lens there's a lot more to see. Brilliant narration completes a formidable package.
This novel lends itself well to being read aloud - there is a lot of dialogue - and White does a fantastic job, His voice is wonderful to listen to, evocative and full of character. I thoroughly recommend this version.
Having always thought I should do Catch 22 as it is a classic, I'm very glad I did. I had no idea what the book was about - set in the American airforce, its fantastically funny in a very intelligent, witty way. I listened to it on my way to work and was laughing out loud in the street. Well read, it was a delight to listen to and will be listening to it again in the future. Would recommend with great pleasure.
This reading is one of the best audiobooks I have in my library
The pernicious effects of unnecessary bureaucracy brought to compelling life.
You cannot listen without laughter and yet at the same time realise how awful the subject matter is.
The story gives you all the tools you need to navigate any situation although not necessarily successfully.
I'm not easily impressed but every aspect of this audiobook is just excellent. I haven't read the book in print but I'd recommend this audiobook to anyone as it's just so well narrated.
You're damned if you do and damned if you don't - that, essentially is what the unofficial, fictional military rule is. Taking place in WW2, and told in a stream of consciousness, non-chronological way, building up slowly towards the most traumatic moments, it describes the way that ignorant, selfish, stupid people in high power can generate a kind of hellish, surreal insanity. If Kafka wrote comedy, and accepted that labyrinthine bureaucracy can be generated not just by blind obedience and control, but also by an idiotic obsession with means rather than ends, then he might have written something like this.
The novel is at times hilarious, at other times deeply profound, masterly styled, voiced and structured, and definitely ranks as one of the best, most entertaining works of 20th century literature.
It is also read brilliantly by Trevor White, who captures the many different characters wonderfully.
I read the book several decades ago and loved it for the logic in its absurdity, and the fantastic cast of characters.
Listening to the audiobook reminded me how brilliantly Joseph Heller's story illustrates the absurdity, humour, terror, frustration and many other emotions that result from sending young people to war.
It's a long audiobook, but each chapter is a separate episode, and the narrators characterisations bring the stories to life. These things makes it ideal to listen to while commuting. However some of the emotions it draws can be embarrassing if you are on a train or bus - some of the chapters had me laughing out loud, others close to tears. Well worth it though, a true classic story.
"A great book well read."
An excellent story expertly read. Catch 22 is a classic stream-of-thought black comedy detailing the absurdity of war. It is my favourite book that I come back to reread every few years but this audiobook will change all that - now I can have the book read to me every few months.
This reading is excellent. It is clear, easy to understand and the character voices are mostly the same as I hear in my head.
Catch 22 is a classic. If you know the book and love it, you will love the Audiobook.
If you don't know the book, it details the story of Yoissarian's attempt to stay alive in a world that doesn't make sense, where people are trying to kill him and the rules are against him. The narrative jumps about through time. Scenes jump in the middle of conversations. No-one acts rationally except Yossarian (and he's crazy). It contains all the absurdity and horror of war. And it's the most hillarious book you'll ever have read to you.
This is a great book well read. I recommend this Audiobook very highly.
The best audiobook I have heard. It refeshed my memory of my reading of the book 20 years ago. The narration is excellent and illuminates the text.
"Don't think the reader got it"
Catch-22 is a sparklingly funny book, but it needs a deadpan delivery to pull it off. Trevor White seems to think that he is reading a bloody, amoral and unpleasant war tome. He is, of course, but the genius of the book is that its wit makes its dark subject matter accessible and so much more heart-wrenching for catching you unaware. White reads like he's spitting out the words and glad to be rid of them. A disappointment.
"MASH on Acid!"
Decided to check this out given its iconic nature and it is a crazy ride. Really good account of the absurdity of war and the mind bending circumstances for its combatants. I struggled at times with this just the crazy logic (or lack of it) but it always brought me back. you can see this as the forerunner for some of the great war stories such as MASH and even Full Metal Jacket.
A classic and deservedly so.
"Satire Still Sings and Zings"
I returned to this modern classic not really expecting it to live up to my memory of its bite, cleverness and the inventive use of the absurd. I was pleasantly disappointed (a contradiction that might have pleased Heller). The bite is as sharp as it was in the early 80's, when I first read the book. The years, the wars and the cynicism of the last 20 years have not dulled the edge of the humour or the social criticism of the war, victors and who really gets the spoils. In fact, it is probably more pogninant today when more and more young people side with Yossarian to opt out of military service. As he reminds us, we would be crazy not to do the same!
I listened and re-listend to numerous passages (just as I would re-read a book with a clever passage) to dwell in the comic wit and cleverness. I had forgotten Milo Mindbender's explanation for the Syndicate buying at 7c and selling at 5c for a profit. It is Abbott and Costello genius of a "Who's on First" level. I have "marked" passages for the future, too.
As for the narrator, I have to say I oscillated from huge fan to disappointed. His Col. Cathcart and General Dreedle are outstanding, as is his pidgeon Italian. But Yossarian just didn't hit it for me until the 2nd part (by which time I had become accustomed to it). Unfortunately, (or fortunately), I still hear Alan Arkin. Maybe the general narration was too close to Yossarian - I'm not sure. Another reader might not suffer from this limitation, so perhaps my view is a bit unkind. Still, I liked the performance enough to keep going (like Nately's whore). I suspect you will too.
"???Are You Crazy???? A Most Hilarious & Horrible Book"
Set on a US air base on an Italian island during WW II, Catch 22 comically exposes the insanity of war, from commanding officers who prove their bravery and patriotism by volunteering their men to fly dangerous and unnecessary missions, to the ???heroes??? who don???t mind having to kill or avoid being killed by strangers and the ???cowards??? who are traumatized by having to do that. The enterprise is so full of bullies, schemers, and rationalizers that finally both sides are trying to kill you, yours and the enemy???s.
General P. P. Peckem waging war against General Dreedle, Captain Black reveling in his loyalty oath campaign, Major Major Major Major trying to play basketball in disguise, mess officer Milo Minderbinder bombing his own base to make a profit for his syndicate, Col. Cathcart trying to get in the Saturday Evening Post via condolence form letters, the chaplain being interrogated as Washington Irving, the soldier in white (body cast) returning to the hospital??? The novel is a series of funny and appalling scenes that cohere with an insane logic like that of Lewis Carroll, as when Alice asks, ???How do you know I???m mad???? and the Cheshire Cat replies, ???You must be ??? or you wouldn???t have come here.???
Trevor White reads the narration with irony, compassion, and clarity and the dialogue of the weak strong kind sadistic neurotic calm clever moronic characters with verve and apt voices.
Heller???s novel is a biting satire of American culture: capitalism, patriotism, medicine, Indian land taking, and more. And it explores the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life and death. After all, aren???t we all passengers on a flimsy airplane flown through layers of flak by a reckless pilot guided by an incompetent navigator? With danger all around, what can we hold to? Integrity: Yossarian???s refusal to conform is inspiring. And Love: Yossarian caressing Nurse Duckett???s flesh with desperate sensuality and falling in love with Italian prostitutes (who say, ???Tu sei pazzo!???) are oases of sanity.
"enjoyed every moment"
I laughed and got angry, excaited and enjoyed every moment of this great performance. highly recommanded.
"Black comedy at its best"
Entertaining, amusing, surprising
There are many memorable moments in Catch-22. Hard to choose only one, but I love the absurdity of all the situations that do occur during this book.
I loved the moment where Orr tells Yossarian "why" he was using crab apples in his cheeks. Another great moment was when Yossarian gets everyone to moan during a mission briefing.
Not at first, but after I got to know the many characters, this book became a very easy "read". I am going to listen to it more times, and also read the paperback version.
A great performance for a great book. It is worth reading but also listening to grasp the whole content of this satire I hope to find the second part ( final time) also in. Audible
"Hysterical...best book I have ever red!!"
Clever, hysterical, funny, well written, perfect. Most of the book made no sense...like parts of war! Perfect
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