Catch-22

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Catch-22
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Catch-22
AuthorJoseph Heller
Cover artistPaul Bacon [1]
CountryUSA
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Satire
Historical fiction
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date1961
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Pages443 pp (1st edition hardback)
ISBNISBN 0-684-83339-5
Followed byClosing Time
Catch-22 is a satirical, historical fiction novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of the Second World War from 1943 onwards, is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the Twentieth century.[2]

The novel follows Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier, and a number of other characters. Most events occur while the airmen of the Fighting 256th (or "two to the fighting eighth power") Squadron are based on the island of Pianosa, west of Italy. Many events in the book are repeatedly described from differing points of view, so the reader learns more about the event from each iteration. The narrative also describes events out of sequence, and furthermore the events are referred to as if the reader already knows all about them.

Explanation of the novel's title

A magazine excerpt from the novel was originally published as Catch-18, but Heller's publisher requested that he change the title of the novel so it would not be confused with another recently published World War II novel, Leon Uris's Mila 18. The number 18 has special meaning in Judaism and was relevant to early drafts of the novel which had a somewhat greater Jewish emphasis.[3]

There was a suggestion for the title Catch-11, with the duplicated 1 in parallel to the repetition found in a number of character exchanges in the novel, but due to the release of the 1960 movie Ocean's Eleven this was also rejected. Catch-14 was also rejected apparently because the publisher did not feel that 14 was a "funny number." Catch-17 was also rejected so as not to be confused with the World War II film Stalag 17. So eventually the title came to be Catch-22, which, like 11, has a duplicated digit with the 2 also referring to a number of déjà vu like events common in the novel.[3]

Concept

Main article: Catch-22 (logic)
Among other things, Catch-22 is a general critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning. Resulting from its specific use in the book, the phrase "Catch-22" is common idiomatic usage meaning "a no-win situation" or "a double bind" of any type. Within the book, "Catch-22" is a military rule, the self-contradictory circular logic of which, for example, prevents anyone from avoiding combat missions. In Heller's own words:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," [Yossarian] observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.


Much of Heller's prose in Catch-22 is circular and repetitive, exemplifying in its form the structure of a Catch-22. Heller revels in paradox, for example: The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likeable. In three days no one could stand him, and The case against Clevinger was open and shut. The only thing missing was something to charge him with. This constantly undermines the reader's understanding of the characters' milieu, and is key to understanding the book, which in itself seems like a paradox. An atmosphere of logical irrationality pervades the entire description of Yossarian's life in the armed forces, and, indeed, the entire book.


Other forms of Catch-22 are invoked throughout the novel to justify various bureaucratic actions. At one point, victims of harassment by military agents quote the agents as having explained one of Catch-22's provisions so: Catch-22 states that agents enforcing Catch-22 need not prove that Catch-22 actually contains whatever provision the accused violator is accused of violating. An old woman explains: Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.

Yossarian comes to realize that Catch-22 does not actually exist, but that because the powers that be claim it does, and the world believes it does, nevertheless, it has potent effects. Indeed, because it does not exist there is no way it can be repealed, undone, overthrown, or denounced. The combination of brute force with specious legalistic justification is one of the book's primary motifs.

The motif of bureaucratic absurdity is further explored in 1994's Closing Time, Heller's sequel to Catch-22. This darker, slower-paced, apocalyptic novel explores the pre- and post-war lives of some of the major characters in Catch-22, with particular emphasis on the relationship between Yossarian and tailgunner Sammy Singer.

Synopsis

The development of the novel can be split into five parts. The first (chapters 1-10) broadly follows the story of the present, though it is fragmented with respect to the time and location and to particular events and characters. The second (chapters 11-16), flashes back to the events of the Great Big Siege of Bologna, returning to the narrative present in the third part (chapter 17-22). The fourth (chapters 22-24) flashes back to the origins and growth of Milo’s syndicate, with the fifth and final part (chapter 25 onwards) returning again to the narrative present with much less fragmentation than the first and third parts.[5]

While the previous four parts develop the novel in the present and by use of flash-backs, it is in chapters 29-39 of the fifth and final part where the novel significantly darkens. Previously the reader had been cushioned from experiencing the full horror of events, but now the events are laid bare, allowing the full effect to take place. The horror begins with the attack on the undefended Italian mountain village, with the following chapters involving despair (Doc Daneeka and the Chaplain), disappearance (Orr and Dunbar) or death (McWatt, Kid Sampson, Dobbs, Nately, Chief White Halfoat and Hungry Joe) of most of Yossarian’s friends, culminating in the unspeakable horrors of Chapter 39, in particular the rape and murder of Michaela, who represents pure innocence.[5]

Major themes

The book sets out the absurdity of living by the rules of others, be they friends, family, governments, systems, religions or philosophies. Heller suggests that rules left unchecked will take on a life of their own, forming a bureaucracy in which important matters (e.g., those affecting life and death) are trivialized and trivial matters (e.g., clerical errors) assume enormous importance. He concludes that the only way to survive such an insane system is to be insane oneself.

Another theme is the folly of patriotism and honor, which leads most of the airmen to accept Catch-22 and the abusive lies of bureaucrats, but which Yossarian never accepts as a legitimate answer to his complaints.

While the (official) enemy are the Germans, no German ever actually appears in the story as an enemy combatant. As the narrative progresses, Yossarian comes to fear American bureaucrats more than he fears the Germans attempting to shoot down his bomber. This ironic situation is epitomized in the single appearance of German personnel in the novel, who act as pilots employed by a private entrepreneur working within the U.S. military. This predicament indicates a tension between traditional motives for violence and the modern economic machine, which seems to generate violence simply as another means to profit, quite independent of geographical or ideological constraints.

Among the reasons Yossarian fears his commanders more than the enemy is that , as he flies more missions, the number of missions required before he can go home is continually increasing: he is always approaching the magic number, but he never reaches it. He comes to despair of ever going home and is greatly relieved when he is sent to the hospital for a condition that is almost jaundice. In Yossarian's words:

The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don't you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live. (Chapter 12)
  • Individual versus Society
  • Yossarian is constantly fighting against society as an individual, in particular the military bureaucracy and Milo's syndicate.[6]
  • Sanity and Insanity [6]
  • Heroes and Heroism [6]
  • Absurdity [6]
  • Power of Bureaucracy [7]
  • Loss of Religious Faith [7]
  • Impotence of Language [7]
  • Inevitability of Death [7]
  • Distortion of Justice [8]
  • Concept of Catch-22 [8]
  • Greed [8]
  • Personal Integrity [8]

Characters

Below is a list of all the major characters in the book; there is a separate page for a complete list of characters.

Influences

Although Heller always had a desire to be an author from an early age, his own experiences as a bombardier during World War II strongly influence Catch-22.[9]

Czech writer Arnošt Lustig recounts in his book 3x18 that Joseph Heller personally told him that he would never have written Catch-22 had he not first read The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek.[10]

Allusions/references to other works

Catch-22 contains allusions to and draws inspiration from many works of literature, both classical and modern. Howard Jacobson, in his 2004 introduction to the Vintage Classics publication [11], wrote that the novel was "positioned teasingly ... between literature and literature's opposites - between Rabelais and Dickens and Dostoevsky and Gogol and Céline and the Absurdists and of course Kafka on the one hand, and on the other vaudeville and slap-stick and Bilko and Abbott and Costello and Tom and Jerry and the Goons (if Heller had ever heard of the Goons)."

Iliad and Odyssey

Heller casts Yossarian as a modern day, anti-heroic version of Homer's epic hero Achilles, from the Iliad. [12][13] The analogy is explicitly suggested by Colonel Korn:

"Who does he think he is — Achilles?" Colonel Korn was pleased with the simile and filed a mental reminder to repeat it the next time he found himself in General Peckem's presence.


And the comparison is made more subtly in a description of the chaplain's feeling of déjà vu:

But the chaplain's impression of a prior meeting was of some occasion far more momentous and occult than that, of a significant encounter with Yossarian in some remote, submerged and perhaps even entirely spiritual epoch in which he had made the identical, foredooming admission that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, he could do to help him.


Heller here alludes to Book XI of the Odyssey, in which the hero Odysseus meets a dead Achilles in Hades. In the underworld, Achilles asks Odysseus for help, but Odysseus cannot give it to him.

Both works begin with the central character refusing to fight. But whereas Achilles heroically re-enters combat in response to the death of his best friend Patroclus, Yossarian is goaded back to combat early on by mere bureaucratic pressure. Yossarian's heroic moment is characteristically anti-heroic: after the death of Nately, towards the end of the novel, he resolutely refuses to fly more missions.

Notably, Achilles is promised either fame or a long life, and chooses fame; Yossarian, conversely, chooses life. Hence Yossarian's antiheroic character is established early in the novel, when he explains his continued survival in terms either delusional or wholly ironic. This explanation also goes some way to suggest other literary influences for Yossarian's character:

They couldn’t touch him because he was Tarzan, Mandrake, Flash Gordon. He was Bill Shakespeare. He was Cain, Ulysses, the Flying Dutchman; he was Lot in Sodom, Deirdre of the Sorrows, Sweeney in the nightingales among trees.

Crime and Punishment

In a dialogue between Clevinger and Yossarian, allusion is made to Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, where Yossarian is portrayed as a mirror of Raskolnikov:

"You're crazy," Clevinger shouted vehemently, his eyes filling with tears. "You've got a Jehovah complex."
"I think everyone is Nathaniel."
Clevinger arrested himself in mid-declamation, suspiciously, "Who's Nathaniel?"
"Nathaniel who?" inquired Yossarian innocently.
Clevinger skirted the trap neatly. "You think everybody is Jehovah. You’re no better than Raskolnikov — "
"Who?"
" — yes, Raskolnikov, who — "
"Raskolnikov!"
" — who — I mean it — who felt he could justify killing an old woman — "
"No better than?"
" — yes, justify, that’s right — with an ax! And I can prove it to you!" Gasping furiously for air, Clevinger enumerated Yossarian’s symptoms: an unreasonable belief that everybody around him was crazy, a homicidal impulse to machine-gun strangers, retrospective falsification, an unfounded suspicion that people hated him and were conspiring to kill him.


Near the climax of the novel, during Yossarian's harrowing walk through Rome, the comparison with Raskolnikov is again made:

He heard snarling, inhuman voices cutting through the ghostly blackness in front suddenly ... On the other side of the intersection, a man was beating a dog with a stick like the man who was beating the horse with a whip in Raskolinov's dream. Yossarian strained helplessly not to see or hear ... A small crowd watched. A squat women stepped out and asked him please to stop. "Mind your own business" the man barked gruffly, lifting his stick as though he might beat her too ... Yossarian quickened his pace to get away, almost ran ... At the next corner a man was beating a small boy brutally in midst of an immobile crowd ... Yossarian recoiled with sickening recognition. He was certain he has witnessed that same horrible scene sometime before. Déjà vu?

Other works

Events in the old Old Testament are regularly alluded to, and the theme of atheism is highlighted when the Chaplain questions his faith and the reliability of the Bible:

So many things were testing his faith. There was the Bible, of course, but the Bible was a book, and so were Bleak House, Treasure Island, Ethan Frome and The Last of the Mohicans. Did it then seem probable, as he had once overheard Dunbar ask, that the answers to riddles of creation would be supplied by people too ignorant to understand the mechanics of rainfall? Had Almighty God, in all His infinite wisdom, really been afraid that men six thousand years ago would succeed in building a tower to heaven?


Also mentioned are Moby Dick, the works of psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing read by the sexually obsessed Mrs Scheisskopf, and allusion to William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice when describing the Chaplain as an outsider:

If they pricked him did he not bleed? ... It seemed never to have occurred to them that be, just as they had eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses and affections, that he was fed by the same food...


Heller also plays with Malvolio's lines in Twelfth Night when describing Major Major Major:

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.


References to nineteenth century American author Washington Irving also feature, with Yossarian, Major Major, and Corporal Whitcomb all forging documents with his name at some point.The 17th-century English poet John Milton's name is briefly used for the same purpose.

Literary significance and criticism

As commented on by Joseph Heller himself in the preface to Catch-22 from 1994 onwards, the novel raised very polarised views on its first publication in the United States.

Reviews in a publications ranged from the very positive; The Nation ("was the best novel to come out in years"), the New York Herald Tribune ("A wild, moving, shocking, hilarious, raging, exhilarating, giant roller-coaster of a book") and the New York Times ("A dazzling performance that will outrage nearly as many readers as it delights") to the highly negative; The New Yorker ("doesn't even seem to be written; instead, it gives the impression of having being shouted onto paper," "what remains is a debris of sour jokes") and from another critic of the New York Times ("is repetitive and monotonous. Or one can say that it is too short because none of its many interesting characters and actions is given enough play to become a controlling interest"). [14]

Although the novel won no awards at publication, and some highly respected critics such as Sid Feddema thought that the novel "was destined to fade into irrelevance in a decade or so," it has stood the test of the time and now is seen as one of the most significant novels of the 20th century.[2]

Rankings

  • The Modern Library ranked Catch-22 as number 7 (by review panel) and as number 12 (by public) on its list of the greatest English language novels of the twentieth century.[15]
  • The Radcliffe Publishing Course ranked Catch-22 as number 15 of the twentieth century's top 100 novels. [16]
  • The Observer ranked Catch-22 as number 74 on its list of greatest novels of all time. [17]
  • Time puts Catch-22 in the top 100 English language modern novels (1923 onwards, unranked).[18]
  • The Big Read by the BBC ranked Catch-22 as number 11 on a web poll of the UK's best-loved book. [19]

Film adaptations

Catch-22 was adapted into a feature film of the same name in 1970, directed by Mike Nichols.

Release details

This list covers the first and most recent printed publications by the original publisher Simon & Schuster as well as all other formats. Other print publishers include; Dell, Corgi, Vintage, Knopf, Black Swan, Grasset & Fasquelle and Wahlström & Widstrand.
  • 1961, Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-671-12805-1, pub date June 1961, Paperback
  • 1961, Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-440-51120-8, advance Paperback with signed bookplate
  • 1978, Franklin Library ISBN 0-8124-1717-8, signed limited edition Leather Bound
  • 1984, Caedmon Audio ISBN 0-694-50253-7, Audio Cassette
  • 1996, Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-684-83339-5, pub date September 1996 Paperback
  • 1980, Books On Tape ISBN 0-7366-8962-1, unabridged Audio Cassette reader Wolfram Kandinsky
  • 1980, Books On Tape ISBN 0-7366-9085-9, unabridged Audio CD reader Jim Weiss
  • 1994, DH Audio ISBN 0-88646-125-1, abridged edition Audio Cassette reader Alan Arkin
  • 1999, Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-684-86513-0, pub date October 1999, Hardback

See also

Notes and references

1. ^ Paul Bacon cover artist
2. ^ "What is Catch-22? And why does the book matter?" BBC
3. ^ N James. The Early Composition History of Catch-22. In Biographies of Books: The Compositional Histories of Notable American Writings, J Barbour, T Quirk (edi.) pp. 262-90. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1996.
4. ^
5. ^ Clinton S. Burhans, Jr. Spindrift and the Sea: Structural Patterns and Unifying Elements in Catch 22. Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 239-250, 1973. JSTOR online access
6. ^ Catch-22 Themes BookRags
7. ^ Catch-22 Themes, Motifs and Symbols SparkNotes
8. ^ Catch-22 Themes CliffsNotes
9. ^ DM Craig. From Avignon to Catch-22. War, Literature, and the Arts 6, no. 2, 1994 pp27-54.
10. ^ Personal testimony by Arnošt Lustig
11. ^ Random House ISBN 978-0-09-947046-5 Vintage Classics
12. ^ Charlie Reilly, An Interview with Joseph Heller, Contemporary Literature, Vol. 39, No. 4. 1998, pp. 507-522.
13. ^ Quote taken from Melvin Seiden, in The Nation], 1961]
14. ^ The Internet Public Library: Online Literary Criticism Collection
15. ^ [1] Modern Library's 100 best novels of the twentieth century
16. ^ Radcliffe Publishing Course: the twentieth century's top 100 novels
17. ^ The Observer]'s greatest novels of all time]
18. ^ Time (magazine)]'s top 100 English language modern novels]
19. ^ The BBC]'s Big Read]

External links


 Catch-22
    [ edit]
Catch-22
Catch-22 | sequel Closing Time | author Joseph Heller | Catch-22 (film) | Catch-22 (logic)
Named Characters
Yossarian | Aarfy | Appleby | Captain Black | The Chaplain | Colonel Cargill | Colonel Cathcart | Clevinger | Nurse Cramer | Major Danby | Doc Daneeka | Major —— de Coverley | General Dreedle | Dobbs | Nurse Duckett | Dunbar | Dori Duz | Lieutenant Engle | Captain Flume | Gus & Wes | Havermeyer | Huple | Hungry Joe | Kid Sampson | Sergeant Knight | Corporal Kolodny | Colonel Korn | Kraft | Luciana | Major Major Major Major | McWatt | Michaela | Milo Minderbinder | Colonel Moodus | Mudd (aka the Dead Man in Yossarian's tent) | Nately | Orr | General Peckem | Piltchard & Wren | Major Sanderson | Lieutenant/General Scheisskopf | Mrs Scheisskopf | Corporal Snark | Snowden | The Soldier Who Sees Everything Twice (aka Giuseppe) | Dr. Stubbs | Sergeant Towser | Lieutenant Travers | Corporal Whitcomb | Chief White Halfoat | ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen
Unnamed Characters
The C.I.D. Investigators | Dreedle's girl | The Maid with the lime-colored panties | Nately's Whore | Nately's Whore's Kid Sister | The Old Woman in Rome | The Old Man in Rome | The Soldier in white | Yo-Yo's Roomies |The small tail gunner who kept fainting (Later named Sammy Singer in the sequel to Catch-22, Closing Time) | The Texan
Important Locations
Pianosa | Rome | Ferrara | Bologna
Joseph Heller
Born: May 1 1923(1923--) [1]
Brooklyn, New York [1]
Died: November 12 1999 (aged 76) [1]
Long Island, New York [1]
Occupation: Novelist
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In political geography and international politics, a country is a political division of a geographical entity, a sovereign territory, most commonly associated with the notions of state or nation and government.
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Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
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A language is a system of symbols and the rules used to manipulate them. Language can also refer to the use of such systems as a general phenomenon.
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English}}} 
Writing system: Latin (English variant) 
Official status
Official language of: 53 countries
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: en
ISO 639-2: eng
ISO 639-3: eng  
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Satire (from Latin satura, not from the Greek mythological figure satyr[1]) is a literary genre, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision,
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Historical fiction is a sub-genre of fiction that often portrays alternate accounts or dramatization of historical figures or events. Stories in this genre, while fictional, make an honest attempt at capturing the spirit, manners, and social conditions of the person or time they
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Publishing is the process of production and dissemination of literature or information – the activity of making information available for public view. In some cases, authors may be their own publishers.
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Simon & Schuster, Inc. is a publishing house founded in New York in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln ("Max") Schuster. It is notable for its position as one of the four largest English-language publishers in the world (the "Big Four") alongside Random House, Penguin, and
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A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather).
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A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather).
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International Standard Book Number, ISBN, is a unique[1] commercial book identifier barcode. The ISBN system was created in the United Kingdom, in 1966, by the booksellers and stationers W.H. Smith.
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Closing Time, first published in 1994, is Joseph Heller's sequel to the popular Catch-22. It takes place in New York City in the 1990s, and revisits some characters of the original -- Yossarian, Milo Minderbinder and Chaplain Tappman.
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Satire (from Latin satura, not from the Greek mythological figure satyr[1]) is a literary genre, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision,
..... Click the link for more information.
Historical fiction is a sub-genre of fiction that often portrays alternate accounts or dramatization of historical figures or events. Stories in this genre, while fictional, make an honest attempt at capturing the spirit, manners, and social conditions of the person or time they
..... Click the link for more information.
novel (from, Italian novella, Spanish novela, French nouvelle for "new", "news", or "short story of something new") is today a long prose narrative set out in writing.
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Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
..... Click the link for more information.
Joseph Heller
Born: May 1 1923(1923--) [1]
Brooklyn, New York [1]
Died: November 12 1999 (aged 76) [1]
Long Island, New York [1]
Occupation: Novelist
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Allied powers:
 Soviet Union
 United States
 United Kingdom
 China
 France
...et al. Axis powers:
 Germany
 Japan
 Italy
...et al.
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Yossarian is a fictional character in Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 and its sequel Closing Time. Yossarian is the protagonist of both stories. In Catch-22
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United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) was the aviation component of the United States Army primarily during World War II. The title of Army Air Forces succeeded the prior name of Army Air Corps in June 1941 during preparation for expected combat in what came to be known as World
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Type Medium bomber
Manufacturer North American Aviation
Designed by John Leland "Lee" Atwood
Maiden flight 19 August 1940
Introduction 1941
Retired 1979 (Indonesia)
Primary user United States Army Air Forces

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For other uses, see Bombardier (disambiguation).
A bombardier (French for "bomberman"), in the United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force, or a bomb aimer
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Exponentiation is a mathematical operation, written an, involving two numbers, the base a and the exponent n.
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Pianosa<nowiki />

Geography
<nowiki/>
Location Ligurian Sea <nowiki />
Archipelago Tuscan Archipelago<nowiki /> <nowiki /> <nowiki />
Area
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Anthem
Il Canto degli Italiani
(also known as Fratelli d'Italia)


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Repetition may refer to:
  • Repetition (rhetorical device), a rhetorical device
  • Repetition (music), the use of repetition in musical compositions
  • Repetition (Kierkegaard) a book by the 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard published in 1843

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Leon Marcus Uris (August 3 1924 - June 21 2003) was an American novelist, known for his historical fiction and the deep research that went into his novels. His two bestelling books were Exodus, published in 1958, and Trinity, in 1976.
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Mila 18 is a novel set in German-occupied Warsaw, Poland before and during World War II. Leon Uris's work, based on real events, covers the Nazi occupation of Poland and the atrocities of systematically dehumanising and eliminating the Jewish People of Poland.
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18 (eighteen) is the natural number following 17 and preceding 19.

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

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