BOOK REVIEW: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – by Ken Kesey


Title: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Author: Ken Kesey
Genre: Classics, Psychology, Contemporary
First published: 1962
Finished reading: January 7th 2014
Pages: 272
Rating 4,5

“Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become. Hitler an example. Fair makes the old brain reel, doesn’t it?”


This classic of the sixties is without doubt worth reading. Ken Kesey wrote a story that is both brilliant and intriguing, and it’s one that can be explained in many different ways. I guess that’s why this book is so popular among English Literature teachers; although mine never chose One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for her lessons… McMurphy is an interesting character, although my favorite will always be Chief Bromden. The fact that we see the story through his not so normal eyes only adds to the brilliance of this classic. Definitely recommended, as well as the movie!


 This is a story about an asylum and its patients, with in charge Nurse Ratched. She runs her ward like a dictator and nobody dares to defy her. Three black male nurses are her ‘helpers’; each selected for their hatred towards the patients and obedience to her. She is the authority on her ward until a new patient comes in. Randle Patrick McMurphy is a loud and life-loving troublemaker who fakes his mental ilness in order to be transferred from a prison farm to Ratched’s mental hospital. Once there he starts a so-called mental revolution. McMurphy challenges the authority of the Big Nurse (Ratched) and one by one wins the patients to his side by bringing gambling, alcohol and even women into the ward. He defies the rules openly and soon it’s war between the two. But Nurse Ratched has a strong ally: the autorities. First she tries to make McMurphy obey as she does with the other patients, but the big redhead is not one easy to be scared. So she turns to more drastic solutions: shock therapy. McMurphy still seems to be winning, until the Nurse uses her last and biggest hand and we read the book’s shocking end…


We see the ward through Chief Bromden’s eyes, and sometimes it’s hard to understand his thoughts because of the hallucinations and ‘mental fog’ he’s suffering from. But it also makes you understand the whole situation inside the ward that much better, and without Bromden the story wouldn’t have been the same. Great read!

6 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – by Ken Kesey

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