J. Bruce Ismay probably shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as any of the true criminals of the 20th century, but for many years he may have been the most universally despised man in the Western world.
Ismay, heir to the prominent British White Star Line shipping company, owned the Titanic, and he's the one who said it would be fine to put just 20 lifeboats on a ship that could hold 2,800 people. Why clutter the decks, he argued, when the ship itself is a lifeboat?
Fifty years ago, a new phrase began to make its way into American conversations: "Catch-22." Joseph Heller's irreverent World War II novel — named for the now-famous paradox — was published on Oct. 11, 1961. His take on war meshed perfectly with the anti-authoritarian generation that came of age in the 1960s. And now, a half-century later, the predicament of a no-win trap still resonates with a new crop of young people distrustful of their elders.