One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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"An international bestseller and the basis for a hugely successful film, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was one of the defining works of the 1960s. A mordant, wickedly subversive parable set in a mental ward, the novel chronicles the head-on collision between its hell-raising, life-affirming hero Randle Patrick McMurphy and the totalitarian rule of Big Nurse. McMurphy swaggers into the mental ward like a blast of fresh air and turns the place upside down, starting a gambling operation, smuggling in wine and women, and egging on the other patients to join him in open rebellion. But McMurphy's revolution against Big Nurse and everything she stands for quickly turns from sport to a fierce power struggle with shattering results. With One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey created a work without precedent in American literature, a novel at once comic and tragic that probes the nature of madness and sanity, authority and vitality. Greeted by unanimous acclaim when it was first published, the book has become and enduring favorite of readers. SketchesPsychedelic sixties. God knows whatever that means it certainly meant far more than drugs, though drugs still work as a pretty good handle to the phenomena.I grabbed at that handle. Legally, too, I might add. Almost patriotically, in fact. Early psychedelic sixties...Eight o'clock every Tuesday morning I showed up at the vet's hospital in Menlo Park, ready to roll. The doctor deposited me in a little room on his ward, dealt me a couple of pills or a shot or a little glass of bitter juice, then locked the door. He checked back every forty minutes to see if I was still alive, took some tests, asked some questions, left again. The rest of the time I spent studying the inside of my forehead, or looking out the little window in the door. It was six inches wide and eight inches high, and it had heavy chicken wire inside the glass. You get your visions through whatever gate you're granted.Patients straggled by in the hall outside, their faces all ghastly confessions. Sometimes I looked at them and sometimes they looked at me. but rarely did we look at one another. It was too naked and painful. More was revealed in a human face than a human being can bear, face-to-face.Sometimes the nurse came by and checked on me. Her face was different. It was painful business, but not naked. This was not a person you could allow yourself to be naked in front of.Six months or so later I had finished the drug experiments and applied for a job. I was taken on as a nurse's aide, in the same ward, with the same doctor, under the same nurse-and you must understand we're talking about a huge hospital here! It was weird.But, as I said, it was the sixties. Those faces were still there, still painfully naked. To ward them off my case I very prudently took to carrying around a little notebook, to scribble notes. I got a lot of compliments from nurses: "Good for you, Mr. Kesey. That's the spirit. Get to know these men."I also scribbled faces. No, that's not correct. As I prowl through this stack of sketches I can see that these faces bored their way behind my forehead and scribbled themselves. I just held the pen and waited for the magic to happen. This was, after all, the sixties. Ken Kesey Sketches by Ken Kesey viiIntroduction by Robert Faggen ixPart One 1Part Two 127Part Three 173Part Four 223 "A glittering parable of good and evil." -- The New York Times Book Review "A roar of protest against middlebrow society's Rules and the Rulers who enforce them." -- Time"

Customer Reviews:

    One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest is the story of the residents and staff of a mental ward, centered around the power struggle between McMurphy, the new, sane patient, and the dictatorial Big Nurse.

    The novel is written in the present tense, which is often problematic, but here it works well enough. The use of Chief Bromden as the narrator is problematic at times, and the reader may find himself repeatedly skimming or skipping entire pages of mentally-unbalanced monologues. The end of the novel seems rushed, and as a result the impacts of many of the novel's climactic events are diminished.

    All in all, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest is an interesting read. But maybe, just maybe, the movie is better.

    ...more info
  • An Effective Portrayal of Mistreatment and Abuse
    "They're out there." The opening line of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey depicts the mindset of the characters: paranoia and confusion. The story is told through the eyes of a mental hospital patient, usually called Chief. Although Chief tells of the happenings in the hospital, he is not the protagonist. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest focuses on a new patient named McMurphy and the effects he leaves on the other patients.
    The story told from the viewpoint of a patient is very effective because this allows the reader to experience an unbiased depiction of the hospital. Although Chief's seemingly crazed thoughts are sprinkled among true events, Chief offers a childlike view of the hospital. Therefore, the reader can form an opinion of McMurphy without the bias of a narrator. I enjoyed the way Chief describes the hospital before McMurphy; the infirmary appears mellow and mundane. McMurphy's first contribution to the patients is as simple as laughter. Chief describes his laugh as "free and loud and it comes out of his wide grinning mouth and spreads in rings bigger and bigger till it's lapping against the walls all over the ward." Even the imagery of the novel becomes more colorful and lively. From this sudden change in tone, the reader can tell the importance of the new patient, McMurphy.
    McMurphy is also essential of the development of the theme: the harmful effects of an abuse of power on the rehabilitation of patients. McMurphy is the first patient to point out Nurse Ratched's faults; namely, her ill use of authority which actually depletes the sanity of the patients. Kesey's use of such a vile, unlikable antagonist is effective because it helps the reader sympathize with the patients.
    Also causing sympathy for the patients is their mistreatment. Kesey is effective in describing the unnecessary shock treatments for somewhat sane patients who, because of the treatments, become insane. Kesey's obvious distaste for the manner in which mental hospitals were run is obvious. Much like Chief's description of government authorities as having "seams where they're put together," Kesey also believes that those who perform the "dirty work" for the government are merely machinery. Thus, the author invokes the reader's sympathy for the patients, particularly for Chief, with each word.
    In addition, Kesey's use of motif makes the novel more enjoyable. For example, McMurphy is constantly paralleled along Jesus. Because of McMurphy's many sacrifices he makes for his new friends and the way he takes the patients to fish on open sea, much like Jesus did with his apostles, McMurphy becomes a Christ-like figure. This comparison causes the reader to subconsciously be drawn toward McMurphy as a type of savior for the patients.
    Ken Kesey's use of theme, point of view, and motif make One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest an enjoyable read. Many would enjoy this novel because of its theme and its universal appeal: all people are scared to be unjustly punished or mistreated, like the patients of the novel often feel.
    ...more info
  • And you thought your Ex was a control freak
    Ken Kesey provides a powerful, humorous, and entertaining tale about life in an insane asylum, circa 1960. Although the inmates certainly have non-trivial mental issues, it is the authoritarian rule of the hospital and its matriarchy that proves the most damaging to their psyche. The ruler of the inmates, per se, is Nurse Ratched (the "Big Nurse"), who proves herself to be a controlling, conniving figure who uses a divide and conquer technique to assert her authority at all costs. She uses shame, guilt, and unbridled fear to keep her inmates in line, not to mention the antiquated "treatments" of electroshock and lobotomy.

    The foil to Nurse Ratched is McMurphy, a scrappy Irishman and con artist who fakes insanity to escape a prison work farm. Little does he know that the insane asylum is far more repressive than his prison work camp. Yet, McMurphy uses humor as a powerful weapon against the forces to be and it is he, not the odious staff, that produces the stunning turnaround in confidence and self-awareness of the inmates. Although he may have his own financial motives, McMurphy proves ultimately to be a martyr, whose own suffering benefits the other inmates in untold ways.

    The events are told through the perspective of Chief Bromden, a towering 6'7" Indian, who pretends to be deaf and mute. It is up to the reader to piece together the puzzle of the Chief's history, as he flashbacks to his days in an Indian village on the Columbian River and the Army. Although suffering from hallucinations, the Chief provides insight into the conditions and state of mind of the other inmates. The Chief perceives society as whole as a Combine, a vast mechanized factory that has dehumanized its victims. Through vivid dreams and his imagination, the Chief depicts the damaging effects of a non-tolerant society on those who dare to be different and non-conformists. It is ultimately McMurphy who lifts Bromden out of his fog of obscurity and back into the realization that he is a mighty man.

    Repressed sexuality plays a large role throughout, as it is the realization of one's own sexuality that proves to be the most therapeutic element in the treatment. Of course, the Big Nurse attempts to repress all sexual expression and shames those who partake of it. Her shame is so severe that she goads one of her patients into suicide for daring to lose his virginity. However, once this wall is broken down, the patients are able to become men again. Yes, they are still men with mental problems, but their confidence has grown and they are able to assert themselves in a sometimes hostile society.

    This novel is a true classic. It provides suspense, humor, and a powerful message about society. Superb....more info
  • One Flew East, One Flew West
    'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' is easily one of the greatest novels ever written. Chief Bromden is, by far, the most humanizing narrator I've ever read. Though this novel is an unyielding social criticism, it's also a very effective one in that it forces the reader to empathize with confined characters while realizing the authoritarians' actions - particularly those of Nurse Ratched - seem even more villainous due to the demoralization which is felt when one is corrected or otherwise censored without being capable of understanding what it is they've done to deserve such.

    A beautifully written and timeless novel. ...more info
  • If you liked the movie you must read the book...
    Jack Nickolson played the role of R.P. McMurphy to perfection in the film adaptation of this fabulous story. However, Ken Kesey is the person we should be thanking for a plethora of colorful characters presented within One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. A classic movie and a classic book. Read first and watch second and you won't be disappointed......more info
  • One flew east, one flew west...
    Okay, so it's difficult to read One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest without being stuck with the image of Jack Nicholson as R.P. McMurphy. Sometimes it seems to me that in this day and age novels hardly seem to have any value by their own right; the luckiest of novels, like this one, get good cinematic adaptations. The rest get bad ones. That makes me just a bit sad.

    Still, try to overlook everything you know about the story and just read this, and you'll find a masterpiece that is very unique and separate from the wonderful movie. Most importantly, the narrator and protagonist here is not McMurphy but "Chief Broom" Bromden; that in itself gives anyone who saw the film a fascinating new angle on the story. Bromden is a man who pretends to be deaf and dumb to be left alone by the staff in the mental ward in which he's hospitalized. Through this self-imposed solitude Bromden is a highly astute and accurate observer, and he gives the reader a full and personal account of the arrival of the rebellious new inmate R.P. McMurphy and his war against the management and especially the Big Nurse Ratched; through his ominous dreams and hallucinations he illuminates the nature of life in the ward, and the effect McMurphy's presence has on its routines and inhabitants.

    Nurse Ratched is hardly a secondary player in this story; she's as central and fascinating a character as Bromden and McMurphy, and the tension between her and the uproarious Irishman makes the novel tick. Once again, brilliant casting and acting - Louise Fletcher as the nurse - made Ratched as well as McMurphy a timeless cinematic character in addition to a literary one. Still, Kesey's presentation of Nurse Ratched through Bromden's simplistic eyes tells you everything you need to know about the woman and her motivation; it also tells you from the very beginning what will happen at the ending, an ending that is inevitable as it is shocking and surprising. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is a powerful and captivating read from start to finish, and a difficult and harrowing one too; and if there's some comic relief in there - and there is, rest assured; the novel is often remarkably funny, filled with quirky characters and absurd, nonsensical dialogue - it serves only to make the rest of it all the more powerful. It's a book that's often paired up with A Clockwork Orange as two essential and representative novels of the 1960's, and it's not just because they both got terrific cinematic versions....more info
  • Classic must read!
    I had seen and loved the movie but never read the book. I have to say the movie is one of the best adaptions of a book I have ever seen. Jack Nicolson was born to play McMurphy! This is now one of my all time favorite books and movies, dont know another book movie combo I can rate this highly?...more info
  • Emotional and profound.
    Another book that so many people read in high school that I somehow never had to read; I was hesitant, yet excited to read it all at the same time. I am glad I did.

    The story is told by Chief, the Big Indian. Through his eyes we see the ins and outs of life in the mental ward. The author uses the Chief's own inadequacy to set the tone for the other patients in the hospital; each goes through life with the pace of a crawl. The processes and procedures are in place to help them acclimate themselves to life outside the ward in hopes that some day they may rejoin society. Or that is what the staff tells them anyway.

    We are introduced to a few figures with relative authority over the goings-on within the hospital walls, though their power is usurped by one woman. The head nurse. Over years she has manipulated the people around her, scaring off doctors and ward staff that she did not feel she would be able to control. As we join the story, her pieces are in place. She has a doctor overseeing the ward that is too timid to deny her control and three hospital attendants that are as immoral as she.

    She has her way with the patients' minds. In group therapy sessions she asks the men to point out the shortcomings of others thus reinforcing their insecurities. These same insecurities are the reasons that for many of the men are in the mental hospital in the first place.

    She keeps them weak and afraid, exerting her control until one new patient comes along and begins to question authority. R.P. McMurphy has bucked the system in every environment he has entered. As a result he had seen every form of punishment except one: the mental hospital. He was, maybe for lack of a better excuse, labeled a psychopath and duly committed. Now he has a new set of rules to break.

    McMurphy may be euphemized as out-going, though others may prefer to call him obnoxious, pushy and loud. He is, in all respects, both the complete opposite of every other patient on the ward and the exact thing the nurse has worked so hard to avoid. With relative ease she has broken the spirits of every man before McMurphy and they both get creative as their rivalry grows.

    She has control over the men's daily routine and has guided their thoughts as well for so long. McMurphy obtains control over their sense of freedom, but will that be enough?

    The mental hospital was a great microcosm for society at large. The patients are everyday people. The nurse, more abstractly, is societal expectations and normal, "acceptable" behavior. The Chief could be you or me. He, more than the other patients, has acted in a way that is in line with what others have assumed about him and not how he wants to act. He conforms to what people tell him he is. McMurphy represents the small portion of the population that thinks outside the box. He is the free thinker who teaches us that it is ok, and should even be encouraged, for us to question authority.

    Too often we do things because that is...just what you are supposed to do. We get out of bed, get dressed, go to work, go home, have dinner, kiss our spouse and go do bed. We are "grown ups" now and that is what grown ups DO. But why? Why not shake things up? We have the ability to carry ourselves with the integrity of adults though we live freely from others' expectations of us.

    McMurphy champions the mentality (to keep with the setting of the book) that we need to maintain some sense of autonomy. You can control where I live and you can control what I do during the day, but I will not let you control how I think and feel. And most importantly the lesson he focuses on is that no matter how tough the going gets, never forget out to laugh. This is an incredibly powerful tool we can use to avoid being swept under the control of societal pressure and expectation. With our laughter we show others that we are still in control, but you have to mean it.

    This may be completely off base with what Kesey had hoped to portray in his book, and it may mean something else entirely to you. But that is, after all, the beauty of it. I am not head nurse. I am not here to tell you how to think and feel about this book. But I do recommend you read it and find out for yourself. As I got into the book it was good, but not great. By the end I was pleasantly surprised by how much I really enjoyed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. ...more info
  • PR - Elaina Boytor
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest proved itself as one of the most originally written and stylistically executed novels I have ever experienced. Everything perfectly fitted together to make an interesting tale of the occurrences between the walls of a mental institution. The story is told from the point of view of from of an Indian, nicknamed Chief, who has the entire ward convinced he is deaf. By making this situation, the author Ken Kesey used it to narrate the actions of the ward entirely through Chief's observation, which allows him to report and analyze all the characters in the novel. The entire ward is turned into disarray when a new patient, Randle McMurphy, arrived and challenged all rules and authoritative figures, something no one had dared to even think about attempting. Throughout many arguments and actions of rebellion, his innovative style began to rub off on the other patients and all learn how to break out of their monotonous actions. They indirectly learned how to overcome most of their illnesses. Most of Chief's observations were noted underlying themes of the whole book, mostly reflecting views of the real symptoms and affects of mental illnesses. Overall, this book was refreshingly original with themes that if followed can create an interesting and thought provoking life. ...more info
  • great quality!
    This book was sent to me in great condition. i'm very happy with my purchase...more info
  • Other Books
    An iconoclast who likes a good time ends up in a mental institution. He threatens the status quo, and hence the power structures embodied in the tyrannical head nurse.

    A struggle develops between the two, as various escapades escalate to the not so pleasant conclusion. Rather well done.
    ...more info
  • great book
    Excellent book - one of those classics that's very readable. Everyone can and should read this book....more info
    After being told by one person after another that Ken Kessey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was a terrific book, I decided to read it for myself. The first several pages of the novel started off a little slow because I was unsure of where the novel was going, but very shortly after I found myself becoming more interested and attached to the novel. Furthermore, towards the end of the book, I found myself feeling like I knew the characters and felt almost a bond with the character McMurphy, as well as some of the other characters.

    The novel begins with the main character, McMurphy, who has moved from a prison to a mental hospital. The reasons for him coming to the mental hospital have nothing to do with him being insane, but rather that he is trying to escape the terrible prison work farm that he was in before. Upon arriving to the mental hospital, McMurphy learns about Nurse Ratched who uses force, lobotomy, and "electroshock therapy" to control the patients. Because Nurse Ratched is an evil lady, the patients of the institution do not speak out against her because they are scared of the power that she carries, the power that she has to hurt them, and the fear that they carry about not being in conformity with all of the other patients. The novel continues to show McMurphy's desire to disobey Nurse Ratched's authoritarian control as there are several incidents that occur while he is staying there that jeopardizes his life, and ultimately ends up jeopardizing his friends life. During his stay at the institution, McMurphy meets many friends, and teaches some of them how to stand up against the evil nurse and how to show their own individuality. Throughout the novel many people, including some of the guards, begin looking up to McMurphy and the way he never becomes submissive to Nurse Ratched's control. The novel keeps the reader intact at all times, with an urge of following McMurphy's every move. The main themes of the novel deal with ones freedom, as well as, the power that conformity has on taking over a person's life.

    Ken Kessey's style of writing is remarkable. Although the novel is sometimes difficult to read and has many underlying themes and messages about mankind (that can sometimes get confusing), Kessey's writing is beautiful and allows the reader to enjoy the book to its full extent. Also, the book teaches a great deal about human nature and the way that mankind acts in specific situations. I highly recommend this novel to others, for its strong impact that it had on me and in addition, the way that it made me think about the issue of conformity and freedom. In the beginning, I could not seem to understand why many people recommended this novel but after reading it, I just want to tell everyone about it so that they can have the pleasure of reading it, and hopefully have a similar experience to the one I had.
    ...more info
  • A Little Misogynistic Fun
    This is a worthwhile read because the characters and the ending are so terrific. When you read about the conflict between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy, you can just FEEL the tension between them as if you were one of the patients sitting in the dayroom. I think Nurse Ratched is described incorrectly, though. I don't find her cruel so much as ignorant and inhumane. She doesn't go out of the way to torture the patients or anything, but as a nurse (one who helps and tries to cure patients) she doesn't treat the patients, or consider them as human beings at all. To her, they are just walking disease, no personalities or desires, just "sick loonies." McMurphy, although clearly a simple hooligan and not a mental patient, may be an instigator, but he sees that these "patients" are more than their diseases. They are men just as those out in the street, but emasculated by an ogre. He is regarded so highly because he put the "men" back in the men, which Kesey's definition of manhood is boozing and womanizing. He shows the patients that they aren't as sick as they may be told to think and that they have what it takes to be out in the real world. Even though the book came off, to me, as a tad misogynistic (the women in this book are either soul-suckers, i.e. Nurse Ratched, Harding's wife... or are loose floozys), the David/Goliath struggle in this book is fantastic and the ending is the icing on the cake. Great book. ...more info
  • one flew
    The novel moves rather slowly in the beginning, but when the character R.P. McMurphy arrives, it begins to move more quickly. Kesey succeeds in describing the scene and the emotions of the characters and the events that take place in the novel. The descriptions are so vivid that it makes the reader feel as if they are there with the other patients looking on. The reader is also able to feel what the characters feel through the descriptions. The Big Nurse's emotions and expressions are especially emphasized. Her coldness, fakeness, and domination over the patients are conveyed throughout the novel and are really brought out when she is provoked by McMurphy.
    The novel is narrated by one of the patients in the asylum, Chief Bromden. Because he is a patient in the mental institution, it is vital for the reader to realize that and not believe everything he says. Bromden is in the institution for a reason and so reality and his imagination are mixed together to form his reality.
    The main theme of the novel is the struggle for power between authority and normal people, between woman and men.
    ...more info
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    This book is one of the best books I have ever read. Ken Kesey does a great job of making you feel connected to his characters. He does such a good job you almost think they are real. Another thing Ken Kesey did a good of was constantly changing the theme which kept you interested. It also had a very emotional and unexpected ending which makes this book great. I would recommend it to any one with a high shcool or higher reading level. ...more info
  • When the fog clears
    The story is narrated by the Chief, an institutionalised American-Indian, who is repeatedly coming in and out of "the fog" designed by those little red pills given to him on a daily basis.
    After experiencing a mundane daily routine day after day, the Chief's life is suddenly changed when RP McMurphy is suddenly housed at the institution and wages a war against the terrifying Nurse Ratched, and the institution staff.
    Supposedly Kesey wrote this story whilst working in a veterans hospital and under the influence. This story is funny and tragic and speaks out for the little guy who has society pushing down on him to conform.
    An excellent read....more info
  • Slightly Flawed, Significantly Dated
    Although it often makes critical short lists, I find it difficult to get worked up about Ken Kesey's 1962 ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, mainly because it so deeply rooted in a late 1950s/early 1960s mindset that it fails to transcend its own era. It also has several flaws that tend to undercut its own statement.

    McMurphy is a rough and tumble gambler, con man, and all around huckster who is serving a short sentence at the county farm. Tired of field work, he feigns insanity in order to gain transfer to the state insane asylum, where the food is better and the work is less--but in doing so he runs afoul of Nurse Ratched, a relentlessly controlling woman who runs her ward with an iron fist. At first McMurphy is amused by the woman and her rules and takes pleasure frustrating her. Too late does he realize that both his treatment and ultimate release are entirely in her hands, and the two embark upon a collision course that will ultimately destroy them both.

    The great strength here is in Kesey's narrative. The novel is told through the eyes of Bromden, a half-Native American ward patient who has spent many years alternating between his own mental illness and Nurse Ratched's all-encompassing control, and who pretends to be deaf and dumb in order to escape the ward's horrors. Bromden is a fascinating creation and his telling of the clash between McMurphy and Ratched is beautifully wrought. Unfortunately, neither McMurphy or Ratched are greatly engaging or sympathetic characters, and as the novel progresses they become little more than symbols for the emerging clash between the counter-culture and the establishment.

    CUCKOO'S NEST is frequently described as a comic novel, but in truth there is little humor to the work; there is instead a pervading sense of irony which--like characters and story--becomes less and less subtle as the novel progresses. And Kesey tends to undercut his own allegory by ultimately showing that not all the hospital wards are run in the same way as Ratched runs her ward, a fact that blunts the sharpness of the story's point. My own take: read it, certainly, but bear in mind that you really had to be reading the book in about 1963 or 1964 to get the full juice of it.

    GFT, Amazon Reviewer ...more info
  • Leslie PRGimm
    Aren't we all insane? To me labeling something as "sane" is a waste of breath. The entire world and every being in it has same crazy truth hidden by layers of "normalcy." We judge those who are insane because we do not want to see the human spirit unmasked. Nurse Ratchet has worked tersely to recover those who have removed society's bindings of normal. I really liked this novel but it was more the ideas that it questioned that I enjoyed than the actual writing.
    I envy Mac Murphy for his bravery and confidence to challenge authority. I wish I had the audacity to do the same, to pull back my veil and reveal my true insanity. Overall I think this novel deserves praise for its own audacity and ability to challenge literary normalcy.
    ...more info
  • One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest
    This story is sad and filled with lessons to learn , but at times it can be a scream. Of course (considering where the story take place in a so called "mental home") there are so many different personalitys to look forward to reading.

    Some of the events that take place can be frightening to an extent , and other times I found myself smiling as I read. the way the author describes EVERYTHING is just remarkable and i really enjoyed it. From the setting to the charactors to the escapes to the evil nurses to the theme tl even the friendships and shocking discoveries McMurphay makes you get a satisfying well written story.

    The end wasn't a let down either. It was almost flawless but really sad.

    I recommend this book to anyone because it's for anyone 14- and up...more info
  • A Book That Lives Up to its Reputation
    A truly rare thing. A much heralded classic of modern literature that lives up to its promise and hype. The plot is outlined in multiple reviews, so, as usual, I will skip that, and focus on what was done right (a lot), what was done wrong (a little), and what it all means.

    The book was a well-written character study on the part of almost all of the characters. This is one of the widely regarded aspects of the book that holds water. Nurse Ratched, (Nurse Wretched, perhaps?) the totalitarian commander of the insane asylum where R.P. McMurphy finds himself, has widely been portrayed as a figure of evil, or at least one of obedience to the law because it IS the law. Never in the work, suspiciously, are we given the opportunity to question whether Ms. Ratched truly doesn't have the patient's interests at heart. Instead, we are treated to innuendo about her obsessive need for control and order, perhaps leading some to question the sanity of Ms. Ratched. Regardless of the truth, it is a welcome question, offering a depth of thought not common in heralded classics, in my view.

    McMurphy, naturally, was the most interesting character in the book, by turn pensive or outrageous, obedient or mischievous. Our much beloved anti-hero, who can stand up to the grinding forces of the corrupt mental health institution and remain himself. But is he? At several points, "Chief" Bromden, our unreliable narrator, points to the haunted and hunted look in the eyes of our protagonist, wondering if, perhaps, he is tiring of the fight.

    Perhaps. Or perhaps our illustrious mischief-maker, our perpetual Loki, has not the heart for making mischief. Perhaps our dear Mr. McMurphy actually wishes merely to conform. At several points, the statements of the anarchist seem to suggest that he feels himself something of a figure of destiny, like Achilles in the movie version of Troy. Perhaps, just perhaps, his fate is NOT his own to make, nor that of the grinding Combine. Perhaps it is rather in the hands of his fellow inmates. McMurphy gives himself freely in a futile chase to remind them that they are men. In return, they take from him everything that he has. Not to speculate too wildly, but perhaps there is something a bit messianic about the book, where an uncontrolled man comes into the midst of the community, bucks the authority, teaches the people that they are human beings with dignity, and ends up giving everything for the people he has adopted.

    At the end, one must wonder what would have become of Our Protagonist if, perhaps, he had found himself in a more supportive clime, perhaps under the control of the nurse from Disturbed. Or perhaps even better, if he had found himself in a formless place without outside influence to worsen him. He might have become anything, and he might not have burned himself up, approximating the candle that they needed him to become, leading the way through the darkness, back to humanity, back to manhood, back to grace?

    The other characters are all interesting as well, including Harding, whose alluded to homosexuality, Billy Bibbit's social avoidance disorder due to his mother's reverse Oedipal complex, and Sefelt and Fredrickson's epilepsy has led to their voluntary commission to the ward. These characters, more than anything discussed in their treatment, tell a sad and compelling tale of the state of mental disease in the 1960's. These people don't need ECT or a lobotomy. They need help, and they certainly don't get it here.

    There was very little done wrong in this book. Perhaps the most grievous thing was the treatment of "Chief" Bromden's paranoid schizophrenia. At many times in the novel, it became necessary for me to simply go, "All right. We get that Bromden is an unreliable narrator, and that he is hallucinatory. The hallucinations, as a matter of fact, do little but detract from the remainder of the novel. It is fine for the character to be unreliable. He is in a mental institution, so we probably ought not take everything he says or thinks at face value. Nevertheless, the utter lack of realistic symptomology for this character detracts from his otherwise compelling impact.

    This was a truly good book, and I will return to it again and again. The search for meaning and for leadership here, for a sense of self in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform, and R. P. McMurphy's final act of heroic surrender, all make this a book worth reading for anyone who is interested in what makes us who we are.


    Harkius...more info
  • Central Ideas
    I enjoyed "One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" because of its ability to address critical issues in society that deserve to be contemplated. One central idea is freedom vs. confinement. Robert Patrick McMurphy and Nurse Ratched are the two central characters of the novel. McMurphy represents individuality in the asylum. He does what he pleases no matter what society thinks. Ratched could represent efficiency, order and control at all costs. The fear of Nurse Ratched's control makes the patients easy victims of her rule. These patients chose to give up their freedom to be in the asylum because they are not able to cope with the problems and pressures of society. It turns out that the asylum isn't much better than the outside world. There is an enforcement of strict compliance to accepting authority.

    Another issue that the novel addresses is power vs. authority. Robert Patrick McMurphy and Nurse Ratched choose to display their power on the patients in different ways. McMurphy treats his fellow inmates as equals. He accepts them for what they are and offers chances for them to forget their problems. A McMurphy act on his conscience by doing what he thinks is right. He is a metaphorical 'Jesus character.' Nurse Ratched uses her power in physical discipline and control. The other weapons that she uses are the therapy treatments. They are run like 'medieval torture sessions.' The men break down with the continuous onslaught of questions by their peers. She is able to torment and humiliate the men in this way. McMurphy represents a thorn in Ratched's side. Authority (Ratched) ultimately prevailed in the end. The shock treatments and lobotomy on RPM show the extent of what Ratched will do to maintain her control on the ward. One cannot win when they battle the system.

    The final issue that the novel addresses is individuality vs. conformity. Most of the men have not lost their minds. They may have lost their way sometime in their lives. Their placement in the asylum worsened their problems. Most of the ward members questioned themselves so much that it caused them to lose confidence. This is a result of their problems and the asylum. RPM is a challenge to the system because he demonstrates individuality, courage and determination. Society has labeled the mental patients as rejects. Ratched's obsession with following the rules can also be considered an illness.

    If you enjoyed the novel, be sure to check out the Oscar nominated 1975 film adaptation directed by Milos Forman. Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher give Oscar winning performances as Robert Patrick Murphy and Ms. Ratched.
    ...more info
  • One of my all time favorites
    I'd could write for days about all the reasons that this is one of the greatest books I have ever read, about how it flips your perception of others, makes you re-evaluate your life, abolishes all previous assumptions about "insanity". All I can say is READ THIS BOOK. It will change your life, and it's incredibly entertaining... as a bonus. ...more info
    I would go on and on and on about this one if I didn't have so much work to do, but listen, it wouldn't benefit me or you, you should just read this book.

    I love the movie, my favorite movie ever, I saw the movie first, I'm a huge fan of Jack Nicholson in the role of Randall McMurphy....

    The book is better.
    The book is different.
    Read the book.

    P.S. the book actually takes place in 1953, not the sixties, or seventies like everyone is saying. A lot of things were different in '53 than they were in the late sixties....more info
  • Beware the Signet edition
    The $7.99 Signet edition of "Cuckoo's Nest" is a terrible printing job. It looks like it was done on an 18th century press that was running low on ink. Spend a couple of bucks more and get a decent copy of this fabulous book. Signet has a lot of nerve producing such a poor quality product....more info
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    Multiple people told me before I read this book and while I was reading it that it's a great book and one of the best they've ever read. With only twenty pages left, I agree that it is a well written and very interesting. I would recommend it to almost anyone that is looking for something different to read.
    I didn't have any idea what this book was about before I started reading it. About halfway through the book, I could almost say the same thing, I wouldn't be able to summarize what had happened at that point. This book is not hard to read or understand, but in the beginning not very much happens. Mostly beginning introduces us to the characters and allows the reader to get to know them, and it also describes the setting, which is a mental institution. The characters are all well defined and unique; they're very interesting to read about.
    Ken Kesey writes in a descriptive way, but not to the point that it's boring. Actually this book isn't boring at all; it's the type of book that keeps you turning the pages. For most people, the situations and characters aren't familiar at all, and it's hard not to become intrigued. Of all the classic books that I have read, this is by far the best one.
    ...more info
  • Excellent.
    I Knew it was love after I read the brief description of the Book on the back cover. I hadn't even begun reading "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" Yet, and Already I was enthralled by the captivating story of a Mental Institution and The Colorful Characters Living in it.

    Chief Bromden, The narrator of the story, is a half-breed Indian who is also a patient at the ward. A patient for many years, he has worn the guise of a deaf-mute, and while this is not actually the case, he has fooled everyone into believing it. He Spends all his days mopping and observing his environment. His Fear Of The "Combine"-What He Believes are the Machinery That Fills The Walls and floors of the hospital- only serve to make the story more interesting.

    The Central Figure of the Combine Is Nurse Ratched. Described as being large and intimidating, the Nurse runs the whole floor from a little glass booth.

    Perhaps the most interesting character of all, Randle McMurphy is an Obnoxious, Tattooed, red-headed Instigator That Causes Problems from the moment he arrives at the institution. He Feigns insanity to duck being sentenced to a work farm. He undermines the rules, gambles for money, and walks through the hallways dressed only in towels. Tensions build between him and Ratched when his spirit encourages the other patients to call for change.

    All In all, While definitely odd, I believe this was a piece of literature worth reading; I may very well look into reading other pieces by Kesey.
    ...more info
  • Touching and Multifaceted
    This is one of my favorite all-time books. I've read it 5 times.
    It works on so many levels, and the characters are warm, perverse, individual, violent, confused, insightful, scared, desperate, manipulative... I've found myself laughing out loud at hysterical sequences perfectly described with a truly unique form of writing.

    It brings a real sense of huaminity to those that are contained within mental hospitals, and brings a new level of understanding inside oneself.

    The book has changed every time I've read it, and while it's incredibly easy to read, there is so much to see. ...more info
  • A great edition for a modern Classic
    The cover for this book is wonderful. Its sturdy and has an inside flap to tell you the book summary. The font is great as is the set up of the different parts. If you want a book full of symbols and meaning but set in something mundane and frightening as a crazy house --this book is great. The only problem I had with this book is the pages. The edges are not uniform. I had great difficulty turning the rough, unven edges of these thick pages. But if you don't have any difficulty with manual dexterity, it should be ok....more info
  • Much Better Than The Movie
    I debated reading this book, assuming that it was a pulpy best seller whose subject matter was already exhausted by a very good movie. But the book has true literary merit and is infinitely better than the movie. The story is told from the viewpoint of the Chief, whose struggles with his own demons and delusions adds a whole new layer of complexity to the story. McMurphy's character is at once more iconic and more subtle than that portrayed by the movie. He struggles with the burdens of being the hero, a bit like "Cool Hand Luke", to draw on another great movie. But the Christ symbols are also more present in the book. To be sure, it's a strange Christ who strangles Nurse Ratchet. Much as you want her to be strangled, I don't think that particular twist works any better in the book than in the movie. Still, Ratchet's role as the symbol of everything that's wrong with our overly controlled and bloodless social order and McMurphy's humanity are wonderfully conveyed in this book. It's a significant book and is better than a lot of highly ranked novels of the latter half of the twentieth century. ...more info
  • Just to say...
    Absolutely loved this book, I was surprised that it's so funny and since it's set in such a strange atmosphere out of nowhere I just found myself laughing out loud (which is unusual for me!).

    There's amazing atmosphere throughout - at different stages I would find myself with a constant smile on my face at some of the things the patients get up to and at others the feelings of helplessness really come to the fore.

    The characters are amazing, Kesey really has a skill for dialogue and ... well everything!

    I'm sure the story has been well enough explained already (hopefully not giving away too much) but basically Chief "Broom" a patient on the ward for almost 20 years is telling the story of the ward since the admission of McMurphy a gambling hard talking workman who apparently chose the asylum over a work farm. Broom is deaf and dumb and so has some insights into places and things he has overheard that people haven't realised.

    The story is brilliant and I was quite shocked at some of the developments and some very tragic twists.

    This is a must-read book, don't miss out!!...more info
  • a top ten ever
    did you see the movie?no?well ok then ill tell you.this is the book that made ken kesey[hippie extrordinairre] famous and funded his acid tests.anyhow,the movie follows the book quite well which is good.its all about this guy who fakes insanity in order to be released from a work farm and put into the funny farm.only its not so funny there and he decides to will take you through a range of emotions from hysteria to balling your eyes out.its a great book everbody should read. ...more info
  • The Great American Novel Has Been Written
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey is the Great American Novel. All other classic American literature pales by comparison. Most classsic American novels fade over time (Catcher in the Rye comes to mind in this category) or they are historical footnotes, of a time and place, like Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck or some of Hemmingway's work. Important, yes, but they read like history and lose some of their relevance.

    But Cuckoo's Nest reads better today than it did 45 years ago. Who is insane and who isn't? What is the bureaucratic Combine up to in the 21st Century? And who exactly fits in neatly to Society, and what are we going to do with those who refuse?

    Perhaps most important of all, Cuckoo's Nest is laugh out loud funny, which makes it very American, and makes it stand as tall as Chief Bromden to the other American classics. I mean, outside of Mark Twain, name an American classic novel which tackles a very serious subject and does so with riotous humor? Only one in the 20th Century, and that honor goes to Cuckoo's Nest. ...more info
  • Classic Individual Versus Society Type Deal
    In Ken Kesey's debut 1962 novel, con man Randall McMurphy fakes mental illness to avoid serving his time in a prison work camp for a statutory rape charge. ("She was fifteen going on thirty-five Doc...") The story begins when McMurphy is transferred to an asylum in Oregon. He quickly establishes himself as the "Bull goose loony" (alpha male...I guess) and introduces gambling, drinking, women and other real life pleasures to the ward. The other timid inmates enjoy these new freedoms, but they go against the harsh rules of Big Nurse Ratchet. The conflict between Nurse Ratchet--backed by the full force of the state--and McMurphy escalates to the very end.

    This book is funny, well written and at times inspirational. It's definitely could be described as a "Modern Classic". I highly recommend it....more info
  • One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
    I found tihs book very intriguing especially with the multiple themes that were repeatedly used throughout the book. The most important theme I discovered was the faint line between reality and imagination. Constantly, this line is blurred as the attendants and nurses at the mental institution turn perfectly normal and sane patients into the insane. Particularly Nurse Ratched, she carries reality in her viewpoint and intends to change whatever she imagines in her mind into reality. Furthermore, the overbearing dominance of Nurse Rathched also emphasizes the importance of females in this book. The females in this book tend to carry a very strong presence among the males and belittle them to the point where they become extremely insecure about their sexuality. Constantly, new themes are brought up throughout the book, which is what I find most interesting. Themes lead to more themes, which leads to even more themes and all together the motifs create a fantastic book that I highly recommend....more info
  • The joys of craziness.
    Randle Patrick McMurphy is a gambling fool, as he dubs himself in the opening chapters of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Not anyone's standard idea of a hero in the typical novel setting, R.P. McMurphy is easily one of the most original and entertaining characters in all of literature. That may seem like a bold statement but those who read this and don't laugh at least 350 times are utterly devoid of humor. Ken Kesey's bestselling novel takes place on a psychiatric ward in an asylum somewhere in Oregon, a place under the rule of the sadistic Big Nurse, a large-breasted, manipulative woman who oversees the most cunning and precise control of her wing of the hospital with a disturbing and dark devotion. Dedicated to humiliating her patients in group meetings under the veil of therapy, manipulating hospital staff and the doctor of her floor with implications of losing their jobs if they do not comply, and backed by an army of staff aides ready to abuse and subdue any patient who steps out of line, Big Nurse has all the surefire signs of a dictator, until R.P. McMurphy strolls into her ward. A gambling, womanizing, drinking Irish swindler who faked his insanity simply to avoid serving out his full term at an incarcerated workfarm, McMurphy is the cure for the dreary and dark hospital's glooms, instantly invigorating his mentally diminished hospital-mates and even some of the staff with his seemingly unbeatable sense of humor and a will which refuses to be hammered down by the Big Nurse's iron fist.

    While McMurphy's smooth-talking, fast-paced manner in which he carries himself all begin to show true therapeutic progress in the patients with whom he shares the ward, Big Nurse is none too taken with him and the two soon begin to [...] heads over who holds the throne in her part of the hospital: the tyrannical, control-freak head nurse or the drunken brawler of a life-loving Irishman. Although Big Nurse retains the power to submit any seemingly violent patient to inhumane electric shock-therapy sessions and in the worst cases, lobotomies, she must have just cause for doing so, and McMurphy soon begins to realize there are certain boundaries he must work within if he wants to win the hearts and minds of the ward's patients. Beginning as sport though, the contest soon turns bitter and the two characters begin to develop a true power struggle over who is really running the hospital.

    Told through the eyes of Big Chief, a committed Columbian Indian who feigns being deaf and dumb to avoid the clutches of the evil hospital's grasp, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is both an exercise in good humor as well as a lesson in life and tragedy. Kesey's command of similes and metaphors are untouchable by just about every writer out there, and his constant ability to use them over and over, yet never letting them get stale, is wholesomely original and impressive. The book has one of the saddest endings I've ever read, and the whole thing might be a metaphor for how the system works to beat down the individual into submitting into the ways of the flock, but most readers will just enjoy the massive amount of characters, all of which are original and developed and contribute an integral amount to the novel's development. It doesn't matter what genre you're into. Just get this and you will not only not be disappointed, you won't be able to put it down....more info
  • Amazing Book!
    This insane sequence of events takes form in the voice of a patient at a mental hospital. Being a giant, half Native American man in the 60's, no one has ever really recognized the narrator, Bromden, as a human being. However, by acting deaf and dumb, he knows everything that goes on in the hospital, since no one finds any need to keep quite when he is around. He knows so much that he can even tell you that the hospital is entirely boring. Everyday is exactly the same at this hospital in Oregon. That is, until a man by the name of R.P McMurphy enters the ward and turns the place upside down. A witty, gambling addict, McMurphy brings the patients to rebellion against the leader of the ward, the Big Nurse.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest takes you on a journey through the lives of the hospitals patients by way of the mentally ill mind. Except for hallucinations, seizures, and the hospital's constant sanitized smell you would think that the characters were ordinary people, which they are. Kesey brings the reader into a world where few travel; a place where most people would think that no one has a mind. He shows the true side of a mental asylum, not a house for animals, but a place where real people with real problems can go for help. It is a humorous, but tragic story of those in need of a few laughs, friends, and a medical miracle. It is a heart-wrenching story, but with a slight twist to it. You can never tell what will happen next and will be captivated by the exciting adventures of the patients.
    ...more info
  • One of the best books ever!
    I read this book many years ago, and again recently. I have worked at 3 different mental institutions, over the last 35 years. There were many areas that Mr.Kesey took liberty with, but over all, people that have never been in these instutitions, would be suprised at how accurate most of it is. Fortunately, in the later years, the operation, that RP McMurphy underwent, has been discontinued. All of the staff of these places, are honest, and hard working people, but there are still those nurses, that have a point to prove. Even today! Very amusing, laugh out loud moments, but tragically just as many sad moments. ...more info
  • A Book That Lives Up to its Reputation
    A truly rare thing. A much heralded classic of modern literature that lives up to its promise and hype. The plot is outlined in multiple reviews, so, as usual, I will skip that, and focus on what was done right (a lot), what was done wrong (a little), and what it all means.

    The book was a well-written character study on the part of almost all of the characters. This is one of the widely regarded aspects of the book that holds water. Nurse Ratched, (Nurse Wretched, perhaps?) the totalitarian commander of the insane asylum where R.P. McMurphy finds himself, has widely been portrayed as a figure of evil, or at least one of obedience to the law because it IS the law. Never in the work, suspiciously, are we given the opportunity to question whether Ms. Ratched truly doesn't have the patient's interests at heart. Instead, we are treated to innuendo about her obsessive need for control and order, perhaps leading some to question the sanity of Ms. Ratched. Regardless of the truth, it is a welcome question, offering a depth of thought not common in heralded classics, in my view.

    McMurphy, naturally, was the most interesting character in the book, by turn pensive or outrageous, obedient or mischievous. Our much beloved anti-hero, who can stand up to the grinding forces of the corrupt mental health institution and remain himself. But is he? At several points, "Chief" Bromden, our unreliable narrator, points to the haunted and hunted look in the eyes of our protagonist, wondering if, perhaps, he is tiring of the fight.

    Perhaps. Or perhaps our illustrious mischief-maker, our perpetual Loki, has not the heart for making mischief. Perhaps our dear Mr. McMurphy actually wishes merely to conform. At several points, the statements of the anarchist seem to suggest that he feels himself something of a figure of destiny, like Achilles in the movie version of Troy. Perhaps, just perhaps, his fate is NOT his own to make, nor that of the grinding Combine. Perhaps it is rather in the hands of his fellow inmates. McMurphy gives himself freely in a futile chase to remind them that they are men. In return, they take from him everything that he has. Not to speculate too wildly, but perhaps there is something a bit messianic about the book, where an uncontrolled man comes into the midst of the community, bucks the authority, teaches the people that they are human beings with dignity, and ends up giving everything for the people he has adopted.

    At the end, one must wonder what would have become of Our Protagonist if, perhaps, he had found himself in a more supportive clime, perhaps under the control of the nurse from Disturbed. Or perhaps even better, if he had found himself in a formless place without outside influence to worsen him. He might have become anything, and he might not have burned himself up, approximating the candle that they needed him to become, leading the way through the darkness, back to humanity, back to manhood, back to grace?

    The other characters are all interesting as well, including Harding, whose alluded to homosexuality, Billy Bibbit's social avoidance disorder due to his mother's reverse Oedipal complex, and Sefelt and Fredrickson's epilepsy has led to their voluntary commission to the ward. These characters, more than anything discussed in their treatment, tell a sad and compelling tale of the state of mental disease in the 1960's. These people don't need ECT or a lobotomy. They need help, and they certainly don't get it here.

    There was very little done wrong in this book. Perhaps the most grievous thing was the treatment of "Chief" Bromden's paranoid schizophrenia. At many times in the novel, it became necessary for me to simply go, "All right. We get that Bromden is an unreliable narrator, and that he is hallucinatory. The hallucinations, as a matter of fact, do little but detract from the remainder of the novel. It is fine for the character to be unreliable. He is in a mental institution, so we probably ought not take everything he says or thinks at face value. Nevertheless, the utter lack of realistic symptomology for this character detracts from his otherwise compelling impact.

    This was a truly good book, and I will return to it again and again. The search for meaning and for leadership here, for a sense of self in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform, and R. P. McMurphy's final act of heroic surrender, all make this a book worth reading for anyone who is interested in what makes us who we are.


    Harkius...more info
  • One flew east, one flew west...
    "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" tells the story of a Psychiatric Ward from the point of view of "Chief" Bromden - a half-Indian schitzophrenic. The book paints a bleak, dark institution, run by the Big Nurse - an emasculating ex-Army nurse who enjoys revelling in the misery of those under her care more than helping them. It introduces a number of characters, all patients - many of whom are probably are not crazier than your average nerd or weirdo. The drudgery and misery permeating the halls of the institution change forever, when a gambling rebel-rouser named McMurphy arrives on the ward, after faking insanity at a work farm. McMurphy turns the tables on the dark totalitarianism of the Nurse - whom he calls a 'ball-cutter'; severely affecting her ability to bully others (especially him).

    McMurphy's zest for life forever affects those around him. While superficially a selfish gambler, McMurphy time and time again proves to be a great friend and ally; the best therapy that the patients have ever been exposed to. This irks and angers the Nurse to no end - driving her to all sorts of plots to undermine McMurphy's authority and influence.

    "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is not the average run-of-the-mill book, as it attempts to tell the story from the point of view of a mentally ill patient. It does that surprisingly well, however, and the reader is often left trying to figure out whether what the protagonist is seeing/feeling is actually happening, or whether it's a figment of his imagination (which is how schitzophrenics must feel).

    For those who have not read the book or seen the movie - I cannot recommend this story enough. It's great on film, and it's even better in print. It's difficult to recommend this book enough, without betraying some of its best plot lines, so if you've read this far, do yourself a favor and read the book.

    For those who have seen the film - think of the book as the 80% of the story that the film never covers. If you like the film, you absolutely must read the book - it contains a significant amount of background that the movie could never cover - in addition, the book has Bromden as the main character - not McMurphy. Whether or not McMurphy is the protagonist in the book - that is probably arguable - as no one affects the setting of the novel as much as he.
    In terms of publishing I do not recommend the Signet series paperback, as it contains a number of glaring spelling mistakes. Buy another edition....more info
  • A must read or every student.
    There are some books I feel every teen should read. Especially in light of recent current events. Today's children & teens sometimes have no real concept of how lucky they are to live in a free society.
    This in such a book to remind them that things could be so different!...more info
  • McMurphy as the Metaphor for the Terrorist Suspect
    Let me first explain that I can no longer write a long review for Amazon: time after time I have spent an hour writing one only to be cut off before I can even preview it. It is no doubt the fault of my own system-- I am not blaming Amazon-- but in any case, if anyone wants I the full text of this review, they must refer to my blogspot. I shall try to put it in a nutshell, if that is possible: McMurphy seems to me to be the perfect metaphor for the terrorist suspect facing US interrogators today. The techniques used by Nurse Ratched are similar to those developed by the CIA in collusion with unscrupulous doctors. The cornerstone of this method is ECT. It is used in combination with narco-hypnosis, but the latter would not be effective without the erasure of memory which ECT causes. I must note that this book, famous for its depiction of ECT, greatly underrates the dangers inherent in the treatment. For one thing, it does not mention the long-term effects on memory. Secondly, it leaves the impression that ECT is going out of fashion, when in fact it is experiencing an upsurge. Some 100,000 people a year receive the treatment, according to Dr. Peter Breggin. But the most sinister thing about ECT is that was found very effective in creating "Manchurian candidates" by the CIA, and may now be being used to create "phony terrorists". Must finish here, if I write any more I will be cut off-- please consult my personal profile for my blogspot. ...more info
  • Amazing piece of literature
    It would be very difficult for me to say whether the novel or the film is a greater masterpiece, so I guess it would be better to say that the novel is as perfect as could be and the changes made for the film were necessary and added to the perfection of the film. Hearing this story through the eyes of "Chief" Bromden and witnessing his emergence out of the black is truly a moving experience. Nurse Ratched may be the most terrifying villain in the history of literature mainly due to the fact that her subtle torture of the patients is so believable and frustrating.

    It is truly an outstanding and timeless work of art....more info
  • Excellent book, lousy print job
    Of course, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an excellent book, one everyone should read but don't buy the paperback. The print job is sadly lacking with it's variations in the ink from dark to light, poor paper quality, and tiny jammed together font size. My fingers smeared the ink while I was trying to hold the little book open. Better to find this at a used book sale or yard sale....more info
  • Wow...
    I love this book. I think it is absolutely genius. It just...I can't describe it. There is no other way to explain how I feel about this book.

    Just to add, the Penguin "Great Books of the Century" edition is the best to get. Not only does it have a beautiful (shiny) cover with an illustration of Chief Bromden, it is a sturdy and light copy. Plus the text is well spaced (unlike the mass market edition; the text in that edition hurts my eyes, it's so small and cramped). A great edition to keep of a great book. ...more info
  • Awesome
    McMurphy is the new guy in Bromden's ward who comes to save the inmates from the Big Nurse. From the moment he steps into the ward McMurphy is trying to lighten the spirits of the inmates. He starts off small by greeting everyone in the room when he first arrives, but he does not stop there. He continues his crusade by sticking up for individuals in group sessions and by gaining privileges such as the tub room and a basketball team. Why does McMurphy go out of his way to give the inmates a sense of freedom? McMurphy has plenty to lose when he invokes the Big Nurse's wrath. Not only can he be sent to the Disturbed Ward, but he can also receive shock therapy or be sentenced to additional time in the mental institution.

    The novel is told from the perspective of Bromden, a half Indian patient who pretends to be deaf and dumb. The patients of his ward have slipped away from themselves and into routine. When McMurphy is brought to the mental asylum the Big Nurse's ward is turned inside out. After sometime the patients warm up to this interesting Irishman and their lives are changed forever through their escapades.

    This is a great novel. I love Kesey's portrayal of the metal ward from the "Chief's" perspective. Kesey's style allowed me to relate to a group of people that I would normally have trouble identifying myself with. I enjoyed this book completely from cover-to-cover. I am extremely glad I read this novel; I just wish I had done it sooner. I enjoyed the novel so much that I would never consider watching the movie. Although I have heard a great deal about the movie I do not think I would ever watch it. I doubt that any performance could ever do my image of the crazy Irishman and the tall "Chief" justice.
    ...more info
  • Brilliant
    This is an incredibly powerful book, especially when you consider that it was at least loosely based on Kesey's own experiences in a mental hospital while participating in government drug experiments. As someone who had watched the movie before reading the book, I was at first surprised that it was from the Chief's perspective; what would that do to the story? Well, it made it very, very intense. Bromden, or "Chief", is incredibly observant, and even his hallucinations tell the story in a very real way - he sees everything as mechanical and calculating, and believes that not only the hospital but the in fact entire world Outside is a giant "Combine," which is set against people. His account of McMurphy's battle against Big Nurse is very insightful, from beginning to end; and of course the end is incredibly powerful and disturbing, and shows a great deal of strength of character in Bromden that has begun to emerge in the course of the book during his friendship with McMurphy. Really an amazing read, and worth it....more info
  • The Mind Is The Most Powerful Weapon
    This book, was extremely inspirational, to say the least!!! After reading this book, one can only realize that his mind can be a powerful weapon. Reading the book, is the only way to understand exactly what I'm trying to say...If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend you do. ...more info
    My Husband Ran Off with the Nanny and God Do I Miss Her

    This book is about the human spirit. It will affect you in such a way that you may never see things quite the same again. That's a good thing. Because it forces us to grow in its affect upon us. It forces us to look at things we choose to ignore and by doing so, it can't help but bring compassion out in the reader! Prisoners, the mentally ill, the homeless, (this book kind of is about prisoners and the mentally ill) are brilliant people in there own way who have lost the power to run their own lives and are subserviant to those who could.. enjoy it....more info
  • Up for a surprise
    I read a considerable amount of reviews about this book before deciding to get my hands on it, the whole psychiatric story thing did not really sound like a tale I would enjoy. But surprise - and a pleasant one - this book captures the mundane world view on the mentally handicapped in a beautiful and very thought provoking way. I had never given it much thought that society label's psychiatric patients and society decides when, how and what to cure.

    The happy gambler and convicted conman, R.P. McMurphy, tricks himself into a psychiatric hospital, because he has found out that these places offers a much more pleasant stay than a jail work camp. He is meet by worn down shells of men, lacking happiness, embarrassed by there sexual desires and without any drive. He quickly discovers that the head nurse and here staff is as much responsible for these weak men's condition as are there psychiatric disease. The rest of the story is a tour de force of McMurphy's one man battle for freeing these men. A battle which he ultimately succeeds in but end up paying the price himself.

    A grotesque, provoking and ultimately tragic story filled with gripping characters and written in a highly witty language. In short a masterpiece and one I will shurely read again....more info
  • The Movie is Much Better
    "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," the movie, is considered one of the greatest films of all time.
    The novel, by Ken Kesey, is considered an important modern novel. Not in the ranks of "The Catcher in
    the Rye" or "To Kill a Mockingbird," but important none-the-less. I, personally, don't consider the novel to be very important...But it IS important, because without it...The brilliant Milos Forman directed masterpiece starring Jack Nicholson in one of his best performances would not exist. The book is told from the perspective Chief Broom, an Indian who lives in a mental asylum deceiving the staff and patients into thinking he's deaf and dumb. He has no desire to be a part of the craziness that occurs everyday in the hospital and prefers to keep to himself. He also fears that the Big Nurse (a.k.a. Nurse Ratched) and her helpers (whom he calls "the black boys") might find out his secret. Soon, Randle P. McMurphy arrives. Randle was doing time on a "work farm" for stautory rape and got sick of it and decided to act crazy with the intent of serving out the rest of his time in the hospital. He quickly begins giving Big Nurse a hard time and befriends the patients, trying to build up their self-esteem and get them to believe in themselves more. This book has the same message that every Rage Against the Machine song has "F**k the System!" Here's something you probably wouldn't expect though...The movie is much better than the book. The movie is told from a third person narrative in which R.P. McMurphy in the main character and Chief is a supporting character. We discover mid-way through the film that he's faking his deafness. It makes the film much more surprising, entertaining, and terrific. The book tends to lag, taking too much time away from the most interesting character in the novel & movie (McMurphy). The book is good and it was clearly a no-brainer casting Jack Nicholson, but if you have to pick between reading the book or watching the movie...Pick the latter.

    GRADE: B...more info
  • Inspiration by Insanity
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was an excellent read and comes strongly recommended by me. It is full of confusing yet attention grabbing twists that will keep you entertained throughout the whole book. The book is about a man named Randle McMurphy who is sent to prison, but is then forwarded to a insane asylum for fighting too much. McMurphy has no complaints over his move, feeling that the hospital will be better than any prison yard. Upon his arrival he opens up immediatly and shows his true colors. He comes into contact with other patients at the hospital and gains their trust as a leader, and so he becomes the leader of the men. On his quest for power he encounters a rather large obstacle, the dictator, Nurse Ratched, who is the head of the ward. After spending several weeks at the hospital he decides he needs to escape and also decided to take one of the other patients with him. After various escape attempts --foiled by Nurse Ratched-- and resulting in the death of a fellow patient, by being over electricuted in the punishment chair. He finally finds one that he thinks will finally work, he gets the chief (another patient) to help him get out one of the windows of the hospital. But then the unthinkable happens and this is where i stop summarizing the book and tell you just to read it your self to find out what happens with McMurphy and the chief. So if you want a good read that tricks your mind and gives a sense of inspiration than this is a book for you to read. Ken Kesey is an excellent author and i would have to say that I found this book to be my favorite of his. So for an excellent read, check out this book....more info
  • Eww!
    Initially, the book was very hard to understand. That was probably one of the main reasons why I was never interested in the book. McMurphy is by far one of the best characters in the book. He reminds me of myself at home. At home I try to take over the TV, gamble, and rebel against everything my parents say. When I say McMurphy rebels, he's all against nurse Ratchad. He does everything in his power not to do what he's supposed to do just like walking around in his underwear.

    If this book was alot more clear in the beginning it would be a very noble book and I think a lot more people could enjoy it....more info
  • Probably the best novel written during the 1960s
    I think you could make a solid case that this is the best novel written during the 1960s. Differing greatly from the movie, the book is seen through the eyes of the Amerindian character, Chief Broom. McMurphy comes off in a similar, but also different way than the McMurphy in the movie. The biggest difference to me was that in the book McMurphy was the best therapist in the whole hospital, helping various patients get over and deal with their issues. He even makes the head shrink on the ward feel like a real living man again during the fishing trip where the Doctor catches a huge fish. The Chief while showing obvious signs of real mental illness, some of what is used to showcase that, the "Combine" and the "Fog" are also obviously symbolic of some very real things. But I don't want to get into a bunch of mental masterbations about what various things and characters in Cuckoos Nest are representative of. I'll leave that to the eggheads of the world. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey is a great book and I'll leave it at that.

    But what about Kesey himself? Ken Kesey had LSD experiments done on him at Stanford by the guy that ended up in charge of the CIAs Mkultra mind control program. This really makes me wonder about Kesey. Its more or less accepted history that the first LSD to get out on the street level was what Kesey stole from the medicine chest at his job as a night shift janitor at a mental hospital and distributed it among his elitist friends. So they give out keys to the medicine chest to the nighttime janitor and he knows just what those fancy new fangled drugs that make the crazies act even crazier are called eh? Ha ha! Yeah man give me a break. I believe Kesey was given LSD to dole out by certain people for specific reasons.

    Kesey went from writing what was probably the best novel written during the 1960's to, while becoming a counterculture hero, never writing another thing worth reading again. Did doing too much LSD scramble his brains and ruin his creativity or was his creativity nullified by Mkultra programming? Its hard to say for sure but I have to wonder if Kesey was not under some sort of mind control or was being used by the CIA in one way or another. There are a lot of unanswered questions in my mind about Kesey.
    ...more info
  • drew me in, i couldn't put it down
    This book is phenomenal. The way that Ken Kesey has developed the characters drew me in to the book, and made me eager to see what would happen as the plot developed, I could hardly put it down and was always dying to pick it back up. At times the book is sad, at times hilarious, but all the way through it created a real emotional connection for me. This, in my opinion, is one of the keys to excellent fiction. Another of the keys to excellent fiction is when the reader can read it as a metaphor for larger issues and ideas. This book is packed with themes that question what insanity is, in a world that seems to be insane (another one that would tie in pretty well with this is Joseph Heller's "Catch 22"). The whole book deals with issues of authourity and control, and the efforts of powerless people to regain control in their lives.

    I believe this book is based on Ken Kesey's experiences working as a janitor in an asylum or mental health institute. His life and personality are fascinating, he seems to have been an absolutely amazing man. Another amazing book, which is based on Ken Kesey, is "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" by Tom Wolfe... it depicts the adventures of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, who drove through America taking loads of acid and giving it to people they met along the way. I would highly recommend "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" to anybody and everybody, and I would also highly recommend not to watch the movie. I couldn't even get through it, and it really is a great example of a movie that does injustice to the book it is based on. If you must watch it, read the book first so that you don't know the story and ruin the experience of reading this excellent book.
    ...more info
  • ....
    This book is wonderfull. In abaut 300 hundert pages are putted together all of the people's feelings. "One flew over the cucoo's nest" is one of these books, which has liked to all of the generations. My mother recommanded it to me.
    Although the action is getting in a hospital, you haven't patience to go home and to open it. And when it is to the End you sorry, because this book is unique.While you are reading it, you cry, you smile and even you laugh.
    I liked also the film by the Ken Kesey's novel. Of course that two houers are not enough to render everything in the book, but the actors crowded exellent and with great mastery in their role. Nikolas Cage and the producer Milosh Forman have made their work in a very good way.
    The book and the film leave a mark in my consciousness....more info
  • He makes the Cheif big and he makes all of us big
    The perfect metaphor for school, or work and the handbook for any revolutionary. What can I say about such a good book except for what it has meant to me. R.P. McMurphy dies for all of them and all of us. He makes the Cheif big and he makes all of us big, and I spent my life feeling just like that locked in a system inescapable and hopeless, so powerful that resisting is foolish, but resistance is the only option, because they don't only want your body in chains, but they want your mind, and to stop resisting would be to give them your soul. I think of McMurphy when I'm at a seminar, or driver's education class, or anywhere with bad florescent light and dirty chairs, or when I'm playing poker.


    Jacques Paisner, Author of Albuquerque Blues ...more info
  • Great book...
    I got this book to read because it was required by a writing conference I was attending. I thought it was well written, in the fact that the description, dialogue, plot, etc. were excellent. I don't usually read "these kind" of books, my preference being fantasy, but I would recommend this book to anyone despite the depressing topic...
    ...more info
  • Must Have
    This book is a very good read. You feel as though you are truly experiencing the hospital through the eyes of the chief and it is refreshing to be in the third person from all the action. Found the book to be extremely refreshing....more info
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    Ken Kesey's, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, illustrates the fight for control between two powerful characters. Nurse Ratched is a dominant female in the novel and due to her position and job she requires control over others. She has authority over the patients in the mental institute until McMurphy becomes a patient and poses as a threat to Nurse Ratched's ultimate control. Nurse Ratched's presence in the novel displays her sense of power and dominance over the other characters and McMurphy's attitute and personality go against her traits. Previous to reading the novel, I had already seen the film version and had preconceived ideas of how the characters would be portrayed in text. I feel the power is clearly shown in the movie as well as the novel and the struggle for complete power between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy for ultimate dominance and control is equally represented. ...more info
  • An Interesting Tale, Not An Engrossing One.
    The first half of this book is quite slow. It does have its funny and sincere moments though. If the first half of the book was as well written as the last half, it would deem five stars. The protagonist in this tale is a good natured lug who tries to inject the spirit of life into a ward of patients of mental illness. He unveils the hollowness and darkness they live day in, and day out, while striving to weaken the clinical hold over them by the head nurse. It is a touching and heartwarming story. It illuminates the contemptible views we had, and to a large extent still have of "mental illness."...more info
  • one flew over the cuckoos nest
    I recently read "One Flew Over THe Cuckoos Nest" by Ken Kesey. "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest" is one of the best books i have ever read. The book is about life inside a phsyciatric hosptal which in this case isn't very nice. The narrator is chief a Native American who is supposedly dumb and deff. The chief is considered a "lifer" meanin the hospital has considered him un helpable. He will have to stay at the hospital for the rest of his life which is unfair. The nurse in charge is Nurse Ratchett who no one dares to challenge. She is an extremely mean person who has no care for the patients and treats them horribly. Everyday they live the same daily routine which they don't like. This doesn't matter though because no one challenges Nurse Ratchett. The turning point of the story is when a new patient is admitted, Mcormick who faked insanity to get out of prison. Mcormick gets much more then he bargained for. The author does a great job of deeply describing the characters leaving nothing out. Reading "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest" i felt like i was there. Mcormick is the best character in the book and one of the best in any book i have ever read. He has a very unique personality which at times is hard to figure out, which makes him very interesting. This book takes you deep into the mind of Chief and the other characters. The best thing about the book is that one minute it's funny and the next it's sad. It's very weird one minute you're cracking up the next your feeling bad for the hardships the patients endure. The patients go through severe mental and physicall abuse. Chief goes through mental abuse especially as no one knows he's not illiterate and def. I would recommend this book to just about anyone it's one of my favorites....more info
  • Fantastic
    I have never read a book so quick as 'one flew over the cuckoo's nest'.
    I just couldn't stop reading .
    It is filled with great humour and it drags you into the story.
    The characters are extraordinary and what i liked most is the struggle between the system and the individual.
    That is something very realistic because we see it in our every day life.

    I can recommend this book to everybody and I guarantee you won't get disappointed....more info
  • Wonderful classic of our time...
    "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is a wonderful example of a classic. I'm not going to go into the whole story in this review, I'm sure most of you readers have heard enough of it. I'm not reviewing the EDITION of this book, either...I'm just reviewing the story, which is nothing short of EXCELLENT. Every part was great but the end just moved me to tears (I hope I'm not giving too much away). I was made to read it at school, and at first I had my doubts, but how I regret that now!! It's too good!! If you haven't read it already, do so now!!!!...more info
  • An Exploration of the Conscious
    A colorful tale of unexpected oppression and refreshingly unique characters, the psychedelic novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, is an entirely singular work. It explores the life of one Chief Bromden, an Indian and White hybrid who, due primarily to the harsh effects of a hypocritical and cruel psychiatric ward, has lost control of his mind and senses.

    In the novel, Miss Ratched (a name which means to crank up the tension), runs the ward. She employs a strict schedule, has complete control over her patients. The Big nurse can ratchet up the pressure, or bring it to a low. She has the ability to speed up time, in Chief Bromden's state, and to slow it down. This utter control is the goal of the Combine. It represents a society intnet on producing a generation of "vegetables," people who are helpless, totally subjugated, and free from any ability to express individual thought or expression.

    As the novel progresses, and more clues are given, the Combine takes on a more direct meaning. It becomes known as a community or society. It consists of all the poeple who want conformity, want things done in only one way. They do not like change. They do not like individualism. They don't like freedom of expression. So, they surely do not view Randle P. McMurphy from a positive perspective.

    The Big Nurse's goal of neurotic subjugation, coupled with her brain-scrambling tactics, perpetuates the Chief's state of hallucination. To gain his permanent withdrawal means her simultaneous victory. It is not until Randle P. McMurphy, Ken Kesey's enthusiastically unique character, arrives that the fog shrouding Chief Bromden's eyes begins to recede and he starts to regain his sensory awareness. Thus, this shock-shop veteran lands on a transient vehicle of conciseness, one which treks the darkest, most fear-instilling corners of his mind until, against all odds, the bright light of reality shines through the illusions before him.

    The story is extremely interesting and powerfully creative. At times, it is difficult to be sure, as a reader, what exactly qualifies as truth or illusion. It is actually more intriguing this way, in that it is up to the reader what they decide to partake as a reality. ...more info
  • Classic
    One flew Over the Cukcoo's nest is my favorite book. It is the only book that I have read twice, and that is something I would definately recomend with this one. Everthing about this book is perfect. The theme(rebellion), the ending(Even if you figured out part of it), and the charachters are all unequaled in any other books.

    The story of Randle Patric McMurphy and the the other inmates of the institution is something that will stay with you. After I read the book I was moved.

    After I read the book the second time I watched the movie. I got pissed. The movie left out and changed some parts that I though were great, for instance much of Cheif Bromden and his schizophrenia. His mental illness and his memories help reinforce the idea of rebelling angainst the cold mechinized society that we live in. ...more info
  • Tale of emancipation (unless you are a feminist)
    "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is Chief Bromden's journey of self- awareness as he transforms from chronic mental illness to freedom and self-emancipation. His lessons on the psychiatric ward parallel his childhood experiences of having the white man coerce the Columbian Indians out of their land. Chief narrates while Randle McMurphy transcends the hegemony of the combine by introducing outrage, empowerment and purpose to the lives of the mental patients on the ward. McMurphy is a charismatic leader who becomes the "bull-goose looney" of the ward through his personal magnetism and moxie.

    One lesson of the book is that behaviors of the oppressed contribute to their own dominance. By wanting to remain safe and anonymous, the inpatients retreat like "rabbits" into the fog (anonymity). The ward is sterile of humanity with the daily activities specifically regulated to confront the patient with the futility of life. Nurse Rachted demonstrates the power to make things worse, so why risk emancipatory efforts? However, through McMurphy, the inpatients discover that it is not society or even Nurse Ratched that makes them crazy. As Harding states "though I used to think at one time, a few years ago, my turtleneck years, that society's chastising was the sole force that drove one along the road to crazy, but you've caused me to re-appraise my theory. There's something else that drives people ... down the road...It is us."

    Part 4 is largely allegorical. McMurphy is portrayed as a Christ figure, sent to the ward for the sins of others, sent as a man to be slaughtered like a lamb for the sins of all men. According to Chief, "McMurphy was a giant come out of the sky to save us from the combine..." who "...doled out his life for us to live..." When going through his shock treatments, he was given the choice (temptation) that if he rebuked himself and he would be set free. However, McMurphy chose to sacrifice himself for the others and set them free.

    One aspect of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest that may be an abomination to the feminist movement was the presentation of the climate on the ward as being a matriarchy of repressed sexual libido. Apparently, for Kesey, emancipation entails full expression of sexuality including socially condemned activities such as pornography, rape and prostitution. Many of the men's mental illnesses were deeply rooted in ineffective relationships with women that were exasperated by Nurse Ratched's castrating group therapy sessions. Apparently, for Kesey, the liberation of society comes at the cost of women's liberation.
    ...more info
  • Find out why "Nurse Ratched" is part of your vocabulary...
    Why does a certain book become a classic? Sometimes being a besteller is the key, sometimes it is awarded prestigious prizes by literary commitees, and sometimes a film adaptation cements its fate. All this is true for "One Flew over a Cuckoo's Nest"; however, the fact that it has contributed a phrase into the common vernacular means it should definitely be required reading.

    The story is quite compelling as we follow Chief Bromden's account of what happens in a Midwestern mental institution run by the infamous nurse "Ratched" when a spunky newcomer enters the scene and attempts to challenge authority. The narrator has pretended to be deaf and dumb for many years, and he has been able to act as "a fly on the wall" in various situations. The new guy on the block is McMurphy, a flamboyant, boisterous and randy jailbird with a temper to match his red hair. However, even though McMurphy is the delightful protagonist and provides the most fun for the reader, it is Nurse Rathced who remains the most memorable character - not much unlike Big Brother in 1984 (another must-read novel that has provided a whole set of commonly used terminology).

    The language is cleverly descriptive - the sound of the starched nurse's uniform is "like a frozen canvas being folded", and the feel of the institution atmosphere is quite haunting. However, I did feel that it often became a bit "wordy" at times in the sense that most everything was spelled out. There is little subtlety, and even the symbolic attempts are a bit heavy-handed. The notion that McMurphy can be seen as a Christ-like figure who rebels against the establishment and ultimately must pay the ultimate price for his followers seems a little bit contrived when the "treatment" table is described as a cross and the electric sparks are likened to a crown of thorns. However, the story as a whole, greatly makes up for the occasional overstatements.

    The other aspect I found quite fascinating was the portrayal of race and the accompanying stereotypes. It has an honest narrative feel unlike many modern novels where it is quite rare to have a sympathtic character such as Chief Bromden matter-of-factly use what must be considered racial slurs. I often found the descriptions uncomfortable; however, I appreciate the unpolished presentation. Like other elements in the story, it seems dated, yet true to the historical context.

    I recommend the book both as a chilling account of outdated psyciatric "treatment" ideology, as well as for the chilling, yet sharp descriptions of an unforgettable villain...
    ...more info
  • Reflections on The Therapeutic Milieu

    You don't need me to tell you how great this book is. It is a nice easy read, entertaining, but also a bold display of technical mastery of the novelistic form. I shouldn't like it actually. I spend a lot of time dispelling myths about the practice of psychiatry, myths promulgated in part by the popularity of both the novel and movie. They might not have been complete myths at the time, I suppose. We are told that Ken Kesey wrote the book while working at a psychiatric hospital, and in fact gave himself a treatment of ECT in order to write accurately about it. What a sport. I don't want to waste time on this side-issue or sound defensive, but do feel obligated to say that ECT, as used today, is an extremely humane and effective treatment for certain patients, particularly those that do not respond well to medications. It is not used punitively. Okay, that's out of the way.

    It is hard not to get swept up by the charisma of the Randle Patrick McMurphy, the protagonist who resists the bureaucratic order, who draws out and rejects hypocrisy, who demonstrates that laughter and joy are not only therapeutic but necessary for emotional survival.

    Nurse Ratched's power derives from the institutional ammunition dump. Tranquilizers, stifling psychiatric argot, seclusion, and sadistic orderlies, all creating the illusion of harmony (sterile harmony, but harmony of a sort). RPM's power comes from vitality, humor, impulsiveness, aggression, and brusque candor, amid the other libidinal trappings. In the end, though Nurse Ratched has proved McMurphy to be "simply a man and no more," though she is able to reduce him to vegetative wilt, she has not won the battle. McMurphy's spirit was never broken. He was just a person, not a deity, not a superpower. He had all the weaknesses and limitations as anyone else, but he refused to be governed by those limitations. His humor and courage remained intact and had infiltrated the culture of the unit.

    The legendary circumstances in which this novel was written, well-known and well-characterized in multiple other forums, only add to the thrill of this book. We have a novel mythologizing a guerrilla attack on societal conformity and hypocrisy, and this novel in and of itself was part of the leading edge of a culture attack. And the novelist himself becomes a McMurphy in the merry prankster assault. Nice foreshadowing, both internal and external to the binding.

    Also, by the way, I owe a personal debt, though a remorseful one, to this book. Back in a day when I indulged in more vices, I used to keep novices in the poker game- long after they were exposed and disheartened- with a paraphrase: you can't quit now, "if you quit now, how are you gonna win your money back?"

    Great book. Buy it, read it. If you haven't re-read it recently, what are you waiting for? Marc Libman told you.
    ...more info
  • A Great Work That Is Hard To Come By
    This book is one of those books that stands out from the rest. It is well written, the illustrations in this addition only add to the story to give it a greater feel for the residence of the institution. I absolutely love this book!

    The characters are life-like and easy to relate to. I recommend this book for those who avid or occasional readers. It is a story that will survive many more generations....more info
  • Complex and tragic
    I have always regarded `One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' as one of the best movies ever made. I never read the book because, well... I'd already seen the movie. But the book was highly regarded and since I hadn't seen the movie in at least 20 years, I thought it was time to read Kesey's novel.

    Ironically, reading the novel has ruined the movie for me.

    After reading the novel, I felt compelled to re-watch the movie and was surprised to find how superficial it seemed to me. Kesey was not happy with the movie version of his novel (despite all those Oscars). I had never understood why, until now. The very essence of Kesey's characters were gutted by the movie (not just their physical appearance but the very core of who the characters are and what they represent). Nicholson's performance, which seemed like a tour de force before, now seems superficial to me.

    The novel is written from the perspective of one of the patients (the Chief) who everyone on the ward believes is deaf and dumb. The Chief is essentially a `fly on the wall', observing all that happens, virtually unnoticed (at least initially). His tenacious grasp on reality (his hallucinations and paranoid delusions may be the result of drugs he is forced to take, mental illness, or a combination of both) provides a fascinating perspective and allows Kesey to use the Chief's altered sense of reality as a source for much of symbolism in the novel.

    The movie may be good (possibly even great), but the novel is much richer, more complex and profoundly tragic. R.P. McMurphy is the ultimate doomed rebel. This is one of the best novels of the 20th Century (despite its inexplicable omission from Modern Library's `Best 100 Novels of the 20th Century')....more info
  • Five Star Story, Four Star Edition
    There isn't much else that I can put here that other reviews haven't already said. This novel is a true treasure, and deserves it's place among the American classics. However, a word about the edition. I found the print too small and the ink was often smudged on many pages. If you want to buy this book (which you should!), I would shop around for a book with pbigger print and better quality. Besides that, bravo Mr. Kesey!...more info
  • Cuckoo?
    What defines sanity? In Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest this very question is posed. We are immediately introduced to Chief Bromden, a patient at the hospital. He describes the Staff, the Chronics and the Acutes. The Staff is led by Nurse Ratched, a wretched woman with rules for everything, accompanied by all the floors orderlies. The Chronics are all the patients on the floor that remain merely vegetables due to lobotomies and electro-shock therapy. The Acutes are all the patients that are still functional; they play a crucial role in Kesey's novel. Chief Bromden is an acute but thought to be a mute, that is until Randall Patrick McMurphy arrives. McMurphy has been released from a work farm to have his sanity evaluated. McMurphy is loud, outspoken, and vulgar a vast difference from the other patients. McMurphy has brought upon himself the task of destroying Nurse Ratched. McMurphy, who is known for big ballin' and bar brawling' disposition, thinks this to be an easy task and a way to keep himself entertained. What McMurphy discovers are limits and the harsh reality he faces. Kesey uses both McMurphy and Chief to illustrate societies destruction of natural impulses.
    Kesey worked as an orderly in a Virginia State Mental Hospital while in college. He was also acting as a lab rat for the government at the hospital aiding in the testing of hallucinogens such as LSD. With unlimited supplies of such drugs he spent a lot of his time working in the hospital under the influence. While working one day he hallucinated an Indian sweeping the floors of the hospital and thus we have Chief Bromden. Considering how much time Kesey spent around patients and under the influence as some of the same drugs as them he seemed to have a lot in common with them making it easier to write from that perspective. Some of his most insane moments he admits to have written while greatly influenced by these psychedelic drugs. Kesey's experience in the field allowed his characters to be believable. The question of which of the patients were sane and which were truly gone was omnipresent.
    McMurphy is a liberating character for the other patients. He teaches them that they have to learn that they alone can control who they are. Society has put a label on them and broken them down to the point they too believe they are crazy and incurable. McMurphy leads them on an outing one day in which they escape on a boat to go fishing with beer and a girl. This newfound freedom for them is one of the best medicines they could have gotten. They realize that they would like to be back in the world and be able to do the normal sorts of things they would like to do.
    I would recommend this book to everyone. I think it is a great tool to learn not to judge people. It shows such a profound form of personal growth and loss that I wish I could at some point be able to experience something equally eye opening. I give this book five stars and consider it a classic.
    ...more info
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
    When I first finished reading this book I was left with a deep sense of gratitude that I had stumbled upon this novel and picked it up. I was startled by how good it ended up being, I had thought it would be just any book: good but ordinary. Reading it was like reading a combination of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and 1984 by George Orwell: two of my favourite books.

    The novel is the following of Chief Bromden in a psychiatric ward. Like Holden Caulfield of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye he only listens, he doesn't exist to others and hardly exists to himself. But he lives in the world of Big Brother, also known as Big Nurse. Put in the light of realistic situations, the same distopian images and themes of 1984 emerge clearly and are vividly frightening.

    Unlike 1984 a muddy glimpse of hope is given through the canniving and crafty McMurphy. McMurphy is a gambler, a fighter and a ladies man. We are confused to his motives, not sure if they're selfish or selfless, not sure if he's sane or insane. Big Nurse has some of the same questions brought up about her character, is she just a deluded helper or really an evil conspirator. The book walks the line of reality and unreality through the mind of what seems to be a schizophrenic. McMurphy and the Big Nurse become locked in a battle of wits, emotion and force; as the battle goes on, the stakes rise rapidly. This war is paralleled by Chief Bromden's inner battle as he looks at his psychological, emotional and spiritual problems.

    The novel's realism strikes a chord. All the characters are deeper and more complicated than ever; just as you figure you know, them a little more is revealed. It's like maneuvering in a world of ice bergs (to use one of the most over-used metaphors ever). One of the biggest payoffs is that you discover that you yourself are an iceberg.

    But not only are the characters lying in a gray zone but the plot is ambiguous. What's happening is always multi-layered. The writing as well is diverse and fresh, at once comedic and then sad. The voice the writer uses is a breath of air for all of us.

    This was only my original response, my awe at the story's power was expanded upon seeing the movie. A lot of the movie was not at all how I expected it and points I found important were left out. At first I was disappointed but as I watched I began to see what it had offered to these people. I realized how the book continued, after days of reading the last sentence, to show me new perspectives.

    The movie also helped me just appreciate the book more in general. What the film did well just enriched those parts of the book and what the film missed just expanded my love for those parts.

    In total the book is one of the richest reading experiences I've had lately and also helped open my eyes to a new part of the world. It is an incredibly worthwhile read and I would say it has something to offer to everybody at every stage of his or her life. If you have not read this book, read it. If you have read this book, read it again. If you're presently in the process of reading it, finish it, wait awhile then read it again....more info
  • My opinion of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    This book was very well-written. It was interesting for a story to be narrated from a Bromden, a patient in a mental hospital. I have always been captivated by the workings of the human mind. I also enjoyed the struggle between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy. I did not like the Nurse's oppressiveness. It was comforting to see someone oppose her rule over the hospital. ...more info