One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Kesey, Ken

Book - 2003
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Kesey's work is the seminal novel of the 1960s that has left an indelible mark on literature. Here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2003
ISBN: 0141181222
Branch Call Number: FICTION KESEY 2003
Characteristics: xxii, 281 p. :,ill. ;,20 cm


From Library Staff

This narrative may seem far away from Cadillac Desert, but then again, Kesey uses the damming of Celilo Falls to prop up his central metaphor and as an inciting moment.

The regional classic follows Chief's struggle with the Combine while interned at the Oregon State Hospital; more vivid and far-reaching than the melodrama starring Jack Nicholson.

The struggle for power between a head nurse and a male patient in a mental institution leads to a climax of hate, violence and death.

From the critics

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Mar 03, 2015

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is told from the point of view of ‘Chief’ Bromden, a towering, half Native American man stuck in an Oregon psychiatric hospital. Bromden observes the daily lives of the other patients, and watches as they passively suffer under the supposed ‘leadership’ of their main provider, Nurse Ratched. The patients’ normally uneventful lives are quickly ruffled by the arrival of a new patient, the loud and boisterous Randle McMurphy, who quickly has them questioning the iron rule of Nurse Ratched. As things in the hospital become more and more tense, Bromden is soon roped into McMurphy’s schemes.

This novel is an extremely enjoyable read. While “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” does start off slow, it quickly picks up and never slows down again. The characters are all unique and believable, and each one’s illness is well-researched. Each character helps to bring out the best and worst of the other characters, creating an interesting group dynamic. The plot is funny yet serious, as it deals with real issues of the time period and setting in a darkly humorous way. The mental hospital is an interesting setting, as it feels both spacious and cramped, and helps to bring across messages and ideas without them being forwardly said.

Overall, the author of this review highly recommends “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. It would make a great essay book or ‘book talk’ book, as it has lots of symbolism and deeper meanings. The author of this review believes this novel to be suitable for ages fourteen and up.

Feb 23, 2015

The characters were engaging and strong. The writing style was unique and intriguing. It reflects the psychedelic era of the 1960s. I really enjoyed reading this and it stuck with me.

Dec 05, 2014
  • Nymeria23 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

This book was pretty sane for being crazy. I liked this book, though I struggled in trying to finish it because it brought to life some of my fears of being branded insane and it showed life from the patients' point of view. I thought Chief was relatable and had interesting character development, seeming to grow and ;get bigger' as the story went on. I actually understand some of the deeper meanings behind his references, which is wasn't expecting from this book. The only part that got me really confused was the night he didn't take his pills and dreamed that the ward got dropped into a dungeon where machines strung up people. That was a little strange for my tastes. I hated Miss Ratched and loved McMurphy. The ending took me completely by surprise, and I loved and hated it as well. All around good, interesting read.

Mar 29, 2014
  • AtomicSpatula rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

An eye opening but amazing novel. It was a little rough at some parts, however, the overall quality of this book cannot be denied. McMurphy, the protagonist, not only has his own limits put to the test, but his friends are also tempted and tested as well, making this novel's protagonist seem more whole than many others. Kesey has done an amazing job not only giving the audience an amazing story, but also a very waking picture of mental institutions of the time.

Oct 26, 2013
  • Unclose rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

In spite of being fictional and outdated, it still exposes the criminality and perversity of the racket/cult of psychiatry.

May 03, 2013

I'm sure this is a great book, but I'm unable to download from Amazon who thinks I have the book and will only let me return it...even though I've never downloaded it. Disappointing.

Apr 15, 2013
  • vwruleschick rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Coming out of a drowsy fog, you meet Chief and his surroundings inside an assylum somewhere close to Portland, Oregon in the 60s/70s where shock therapy and lobotomies are the norm. Until McMurphy shows up with his outgoing, charismatic personality to show the man (in case Nurse Ratched) who's in charge. Follow the fast-talking McMurphy as he gains friendship and allies, while on the loose. But watchout the Nurse is watching and you don't think for a minute she is going to let it slide. Loved how the story was told from the Chief's POV.

Mar 23, 2013
  • AmandaVollmershausen rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I picked up this book expecting to really like it. I was interested in the subject of past-time mental hospitals and after reading, I'm very aware of this book's literary value. Nevertheless, I didn't enjoy reading it. The perspective it's told through makes some events difficult to grasp and the book overall is quite dark.

Dec 09, 2012
  • eddyg23 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.


Jun 05, 2012
  • kori_liz rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

love this book so much that i bought a copy

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Jan 17, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Jan 17, 2011

Violence: This title contains Violence.

Jan 17, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.


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Mar 23, 2013
  • AmandaVollmershausen rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

AmandaVollmershausen thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Jan 17, 2011


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Jun 16, 2013

To Vik Lovell, who told me dragons did not exist, then led me to their lairs.


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