Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cannonball Read- Book 29

During this cannonball read, I have read some really good books and some really not so good. This book happens to be one of the not so good ones. I typically read books in a couple a days, a week at the most. I started this one on January 28th. It is a story about soldiers stationed in Pianosa Italy during WWII. The main character is a soldier named Yossarian. He has been there for quite a while and flown all of his combat missions when he finds out about “Catch-22.” From the book:
“Daneeka was telling the truth,” ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen admitted. “Forty missions is all you have to fly as far as 27th Air Force Headquarters is concerned.” Yossarian was jubilant. “Then I can go home, right? I’ve got forty-eight.” “No, you can’t go home,” ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen, corrected him. “Are you crazy or something?” “Why not?” “Catch-22.” “Catch-22?” Yossarian was stunned. “What the hell has Catch-22 go to do with it?”

“Catch-22,” Doc Daneeka answered patiently, when Hungry Joe had flown Yossarian back to Pianosa, “says you’ve always got to do what your commanding officer tells you to.”
“But the 27th Air Force says I can go home with forty missions.”
“But they don’t say you have to go home. And regulations do say you have to obey every order. That’s the catch. Even if the colonel were disobeying a 27th Air Force order by making you fly more missions, you’d still have to fly them, or you’d be guilty of disobeying an order of his. And then 27th Air Force headquarters would really jump on you.”
Yossarian slumped with disappointment. “Then I really do have to fly the fifty missions, don’t I?” he grieved. “The fifty-five,” Doc Daneeka corrected him.

 The book is a satire of military command and is a general critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning.  The term "Catch-22" is common idiomatic usage meaning "a no-win situation" or "a double bind" of any type.
Yossarian witnesses tragedy after tragedy and the mission count continuing to be raised. Yossarian is fearful of dying and is tired at putting his life at risk.  Yossarian, "It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to somwone who's dead."  After all kinds of crazy stuff, his commanders finally offer him a deal to go home and at first he takes it.  Then he finds out a soldier friend whom he thought had died, had made it to Sweden.  So, in the end, he runs off to desert his post.

Rating-- D ( I guess some people might like it, but I had to make myself read it...)

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