Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Joseph Heller - Author of 'Catch-22' - Dies

Joseph Heller, the man who coined the phrase ‘catch-22’ for a no-win situation in his epic war novel has died at the age of 76.

Heller wrote the famous anti-war novel ‘Catch-22’ in 1961 and while it was initially dismissed by critics it was later hailed as one of the best novels of the century by the Modern library earlier this year.

Heller died at his New York home of a heart attack on Monday.

Catch-22 describes a Second World War situation in which a bomber tries desperately to avoid the horrors of war. For the central character the ‘catch-22’ is when he claims he is too insane to fly any more but is in turn told by the military that anybody trying to avoid combat must be sane.

Hence the lose-lose catch-22.

The novel – which elicited a range of reviews – and the 1970 film from the novel made Heller a millionaire.

Heller published a second novel after ‘Catch-22’ titled ‘Something Happened’ – a dark look at a man who is unaware he is having an emotional breakdown – arrived in 1974. This was followed by ‘Good as Gold’ in 1979, ‘God Knows’ in 1984, ‘No Laughing Matter’ in 1986 and ‘Picture This’, a memoir, in 1998.

A sequel to ‘Catch-22’ – ‘Closing Time’ – was published in 1994. None of these novels had the spectacular success of ‘Catch-22’.

Joseph Heller was born May 1, 1923, in New York City and after school joined the Air Force as a bomber. He flew more than 60 bombing missions. After the War Heller earned a Bachelor of Arts from New York University in 1948, a Master of Arts from Columbia University in 1949 and a Fulbright Scholarship to Oxford University.

He taught at a number of universities, wrote advertising copy for Time and Look magazines and worked in television and screen-writing.

For three years he suffered from a rare paralysing disease called called Guillain-Barre syndrome which rendered him unable to move or swallow.

He completely recovered and was 76 years old when he died.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Scoop 3.0: Saving The News

Scoop Co-Founder Alastair Thompson - One of the saddest aspects of the decline of the news industry, not just here in NZ - but everywhere, is that it often seems invisible, in large part because news is a confidence business... More>>


"Scoop 3.0" Crowd Sale and PledgeMe Campaign: Taking Scoop's Model To The World

Scoop has a real shot at creating the future of independent news and media intelligence and a solution to the news crisis. The Scoop 3.0 plan aims to create NZ’s first community-owned, distributed, blockchain integrated, news and media intelligence ecosystem in 2019. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Why The Highly Educated Vote Centre-Left

In March of this year, the French economist Thomas Piketty published a paper tracing the political journey that the university-educated have taken across the political spectrum in the past 70 years... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Elizabeth Warren’s Plan To save Capitalism

Over the past six weeks, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has emerged from the pack as Trump’s likely Democratic rival in 2020... As set out in the Accountable Capitalism Act she launched in August, Warren aims to rein in those market forces. More>>

  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog