Reading “Catch-22” Reminds Us That Sometimes It’s Noble to Quit


“It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.”

When these words appear in Joseph Heller’s satirical antiwar novel Catch-22, they refer to World War II. But they could just as easily be about today’s “war” against the invisible threat of COVID-19. Winning a war is only beneficial to those who live past the war’s end. And, as U.S. workers are increasingly called to stay at or return to work, growing numbers of them won’t survive to see a post-coronavirus world.

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