Page 52. " big photographer from Life magazine "

Life magazine cover, June 19, 1944
Public DomainLife magazine cover, June 19, 1944
Although Life was the title of a humor and general interest magazine that was published between 1883 and 1936, it is best remembered as a glossy, oversized newsweekly that accented photojournalism after Henry Luce, the founder of Time magazine, purchased the rights to the name in 1936. It appeared every week thereafter for the next 36 years.

The cover at left appeared on June 19, 1944, depicting General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the D-Day landings, which had commenced a week and a half before. Eight years later, Eisenhower would be elected the 34th President of the United States.

Collapsing as a newsweekly in 1972, Life turned up only as occasional “special” issues until 2000.

Page 53. " the week of the Salerno beachhead "

The ports of Salerno as seen from the castle of Arechi
Public DomainThe ports of Salerno as seen from the castle of Arechi - Credit: Mattatoio5
Salerno is a city and a Mediterranean gulf in southwestern Italy about 30 miles southeast of Naples and 146 miles from Rome. It was the target of “Operation Avalanche,” the initial invasion of the Italian boot by the U.S. 5th Army starting on Sept. 9, 1943 -- six days after British forces landed at Calabria, the “toe” of the boot.

Page 53. " on a low-level mission over a Wac on a supply flight to Marrakech "

Marrakech, or Marrakesh, the second-largest city in Morocco, has a long and respected history as an imperial metropolis. Alfred Hitchcock shot the opening scenes of “The Man Who Knew Too Much” with Doris Day and James Stewart in Marrakech. Crosby, Stills and Nash recorded a song called “Marrakesh Express,” composed by Graham Nash, for their first album. Yossarian’s “low-level mission” over a WAC would, in view of the dose of clap that resulted, have been a sexual one.

Page 53. " his twenty-third mission was to Arezzo "

Arezzo, 2010
Creative Commons AttributionArezzo, 2010 - Credit: Marek Ślusarczyk
A city and province in the central Italian region of Tuscany, Arezzo’s buildings suffered heavy damage from bombings in World War II. Although 140 miles north of Rome, Arezzo was bombed mostly in April 1944, with a few additional runs in May and June, mostly before Rome was captured by ground forces on June 4.

Page 54. " to take his Atabrine tablets "

Atabrine is the trade name for quinocrine, which is used to fight infections by parasitic diseases. It is related to the anti-malarial drug mefloquine. In the 1930s and 1940s Atabrine was used to treat malaria and the intestinal parasite giardia.

Page 55. " every crashing cannon in the Hermann Goering Division "

In proper German, the Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring was an elite armored tank division that saw action in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and, after October 1944, the Soviet front. Created and named after Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring, one of Hitler’s top leaders and Commander-in-Chief of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) from 1935 to the end of the war, the division was accused of several incidents of mass executions of and reprisals against civilians in Italy and Poland.

Page 57. " he believed that all men were created equal "

The phrase “all men were created equal” is a slight paraphrase of the most famous sentence of the Declaration of Independence. In typical Catch-22 fashion, it is immediately turned on its head: because he believes all men are created equal, Colonel Cathcart spurns all men outside General Headquarters with equal fervor.

Page 61. " I have a Garnett-Fleischaker Syndrome "

This is a fictitious medical condition, apparently devised by Yossarian, that appears only in this novel.

Page 64. " people have the taste of Philistines "

The Philistines were a people who lived on the southern coast of Canaan during the period of the Iron Age, about 1175 BCE. According to the Bible, they were the worst enemies of the people of Israel: Samson famously fights them in the Book of Judges.

Though not normally capitalized, the word has in recent years come to be applied to anyone who lacks cultural graces, intellectual drive, or aesthetic refinement -- persons with dull and commonplace ideas and taste.

Page 67. " Milo could buy eggs in Malta "

Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMalta
An independent republic located on a small number of islands in the Mediterranean south of Sicily, Malta is one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries. Its location has given it critical strategic importance, so greater powers from the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans to Arabs, Normans, French, and British have ruled the islands in turn.

Page 68. " hanging around modern museums with both eyes together on one side of a face "

This is likely an indirect reference to the style of painting best characterized by the Cubist works of Pablo Picasso or Georges Braque.

Page 69. " getting involved in a discussion on empathy, Aristotle, "

Bust of Aristotle
Public DomainBust of Aristotle - Credit: "Jastrow" / Marie-Lan Nguyen
A student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great, Aristotle (384-322 BCE) was a Greek thinker whose work in the sciences, politics, logic, and ethics formed the foundation for all Western philosophy.

The bust of Aristotle shown here, from the collection of the National Museum of Rome, is a marble Roman copy of the original bronze done about 330 BCE by Lysippos, and a modern alabaster mantle added below.

Page 69. " cadet school in Santa Ana, California "

The Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB) lasted only as long as the Second World War. Established on the first day of 1942, it served as the setting for basic training of air cadets, but did not include runways, hangars, or planes. Placed on inactive status in November, 1945, and decommissioned in the following year, it has since become the site of the Orange County Fairgrounds, Orange Coast College, and the Pacific Amphitheatre.

Page 69. " raging back and forth like a beardless Lear "

Public Domain"King Lear in the Storm," Benjamin West
A reference to the title character of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” who in the middle of the play goes outdoors during a storm and shouts and curses at the sky.

This painting of “King Lear in the Storm” was executed by Benjamin West (1738-1820), a native of the American colonies who was active during the Revolution and would eventually become the second president of the Royal Academy in London. West did this painting in 1788 for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery.

Page 70. " Lieutenant Scheisskopf was an R.O.T.C. graduate "

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a college-based program for training commissioned officers for service in all branches of the U.S. military except the Coast Guard. Launched in 1862, today ROTC programs train between 11 percent of U.S. Marine Corps officers and as much as 56 percent of those in the U.S. Army.

Page 71. " mathematics major from the Wharton School of Business "

The Wharton School is the name of the business school that awards B.S., M.B.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Founded in 1881, it was the first business school in the United States and is one of the most competitive in the world.

Page 71. " could not count to twenty-eight each month without getting into trouble "

This is an indirect, numerical way of saying Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife could not keep track of her own fertility cycle. Most people believe the average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but various studies have established a length between 28.1 and 29.1 days, often with variations of several days in either direction.

Whether Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife only thinks she’s perpetually pregnant or has to obtain multiple abortions is not clear from the narrative. That a “crazy mathematics major” who graduated from the prestigious Wharton School could not count to 28 is another typical Catch-22 paradox. 

Page 71. " Such men were dangerous "

Public Domain"Julius Caesar" from the First Folio
This is a reference to a line spoken by the title character of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” Early in the play, in Act I, scene ii, Caesar notices Cassius, one of the leaders of the conspiracy that will assassinate him shortly, and remarks to Mark Antony, “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look: / He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.”

Lieutenant Scheisskopf has a similar reaction to Clevinger because he “had a mind, and … people with minds tended to get pretty smart at times.”

Page 72. " thumbing through Krafft-Ebing "

Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, 1886
Public DomainKrafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, 1886
Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902), an Austro-German psychiatrist and pioneering sexologist, published Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie in 1886. The title means Sexual Psychopathy: a Clinical-Forensic Study, and the author intended it as a reference work for the use of physicians and judges. He also wrote portions of the book in Latin to discourage lay readers.

Psychopathia Sexualis was one of the first books to discuss alternative sexual practices and conditions such as homosexuality and transsexualism, and to address so-called clitoral orgasm and the sexual pleasure of women, in those days known as “jouissance.” The book became so infamous that whenever someone refers to “Krafft-Ebing,” as in this passing mention in Catch-22, he or she is typically speaking of the book and not its author.

Page 73. " Leonardo's exercises in anatomy "
Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo
Public DomainVitruvian Man, by Leonardo

Studies of Embryos, by Leonardo
Public DomainStudies of Embryos, by Leonardo
This is a reference to the notebooks of Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519), the Renaissance genius of art and science known familiarly as Leonardo da Vinci, who made pioneering discoveries in the field of anatomy by drawing nude human figures. His surviving notes run to 13,000 pages, and though they appear to have been written for publication, they never appeared in public.

The two images here are probably the most famous. On the left, Vitruvian Man, and on the right, Leonardo's studies of human embryos. Both of these photographs of Leonardo's notebooks were shot by Luc Viatour.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates owns Leonardo’s 72-page collection of scientific writings, which Gates named the Codex Leicester after he bought it in a 1994 auction for $30.8 million, making it the most expensive book ever sold. Gates has allowed it to be placed on public display once a year around the world.

Page 75. " you'll be fighting Billy Petrolle "

William Michael Petrolle (1910-1983), a contender for the world lightweight boxing title, was known as “The Fargo Express” and fought an estimated total of 255 bouts. He met the World Lightweight Title holder, Tony Canzoneri, in Madison Square Garden in 1932 and lost by a decision. A native of Schenectady, New York, Petrolle retired to Duluth, Minnesota with $200,000 at the height of the Depression.