The leatherbound diary was tucked away alongside items collected by my grandparents over nearly a century, but my father recognized it immediately while cleaning out my grandparents house after their passing.
During my youth, this was the diary my father suggested I compare to Joseph Heller’s classic novel Catch-22. My grandfather served with Joseph Heller and had told us that he would often share details of his missions with his pal Joey when they were back on base.
Back then, I didn’t necessarily realize the significance of such a comparison. Nor did I have his diary. Plus, the 453 pages of Catch-22, along with its many characters and non-chronological order was a bit beyond my reading comprehension.
In 2011, I was able to wrap my head around this challenging read while having Papa Julie’s diary to perform a side by side comparison. Consistencies began to emerge, and I began to realize that my Papa Julie’s World War II story was known by millions, but somehow eluded those of us closest to him.
Catch-22 scholars who I have since shared these details with have called it “a revelation”, “persuasive”, and “a way of enhancing understanding of Catch-22 and of the Second World War”.
“I think your evidence is overwhelming; your grandfather was clearly the principal inspiration for Yossarian’s narrative adventure, and his reaction to the trauma of unrelieved aerial combat…I’m grateful for your work to preserve these new treasures.”Dr. Jonathan Eller – Chancellor’s Professor of English – IUPUI, and editor of the appendix materials in the 50th Anniversary Edition of Catch-22
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