Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

I don't know exactly when I first learned about this novel but I decided I had to read it after noticing a reference in the lyrics of 'The shortest straw' by Metallica (great song by the way).

The novel is about the events in the life of a pilot during World War II. Unlike other anti-war novels, this book does not attack the idea of waging war but rather the way it is done. Furthermore this book adds a lot of humor to the usual drama/romance of other anti-war novels. I found the book to be extremely funny at times. It shows how everyone is negatively affected by the war in his own way.

For example, throughout the novel certain superiors live up not to their ideals but merely to their ambition. They command their men to bomb places in certain ways just to get a good aerial photograph. Moreover, they continually raise the number of missions the men are required to fly. Various other people are just plain crazy, each in their own right. Each character seems to represent something but I would spoil everything if I mentioned them all.

The title of the book refers to a set of rules that help the bureaucracy and trap the individual in endless circles. For example when the leading character learns that he can be sent home if he is insane, he is told that he has to ask, but, asking to be sent home has to be the process of a rational mind aware of danger, and thus he can not be sent home because of insanity.

Being sent home is one of the main goals of the protagonist. He is desperately trying to survive while others are talking about fighting for their country or aren't concerned at all.

This is a book that makes you laugh while still providing stuff to think about. In the end all the pieces fell together and I realized what a wonderful book it was.