"People go to fight wars because they don't understand the seriousness of what they're doing."
Joseph Heller (1923–99)
Joseph Heller is best known as the author of Catch-22, a celebrated antiwar novel that made an enduring contribution to popular parlance. The darkly comic novel, which centers on the antihero Yossarian, draws upon Heller's own experience as a bomber pilot in World War II to provide a satiric look at war, bureaucracy, and the maddening logic—or lack thereof—of both. It received mixed reviews upon publication in 1961, but soared in popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s as its themes found a receptive audience in the Vietnam War era. Critical acclaim grew as well, and for his use of irony and black humor Heller was often grouped with the authors Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, and Philip Roth. In the novel's text, the original catch-22 "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," Heller wrote. "Orr would be crazy to fly more missions. . . . but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to." Today, says the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (2002), a catch-22 is "any absurd arrangement that puts a person in a double bind."