Page 277. " scream inside the Fist of the ape "

This is a reference to the iconic image from the 1933 film King Kong where Ann Darrow, played by Fay Wray, is snatched by Kong, who then climbs to the top of the Empire State Building.

Director Merian C. Cooper's promise to Wray that she would have 'the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood' is quoted at the beginning of Part Two of Gravity's Rainbow.

Page 287. " Kraut "

Kraut and Limey are derogatory terms from the 1940s for Germans and English respectively.

The term kraut comes from sauerkraut, a popular German dish of fermented cabbage. Limey comes from the tradition in the British navy of supplying sailors with limes in order to combat scurvy.

James Lind had demonstrated that lemons could be used to cure scurvy. Assuming that lemons and limes would be equally effective, ships carried limes since they were more plentiful. However, limes proved far less effective, as they don't have as much vitamin C. The decline in scurvy associated with the use of limes was largely due to improvements in technology shortening naval journeys, giving scurvy less time to develop.

Page 287. " Old Blood 'n' Guts handed Rommel's ass to him "

British and American troops on the beach near Algiers during the North African campaign
Public DomainBritish and American troops on the beach near Algiers during the North African campaign - Credit: United Kingdom Government
'Old Blood 'n' Guts' is General Patton (1885-1945), who led his forces to victory against Erwin Rommel's German forces in the North African campaign.

In 1942, Patton commanded the Western Tank Force of the US Army, and landed in Morocco as part of Operation Torch. After Allied forces suffered a series of defeats, Patton was appointed to take command of the US II Corps, and promoted to lieutenant general. Though a tough leader, he was popular and respected among his troops.

Patton quickly turned things around, achieving a crucial victory at the Battle of El Guettar. They pushed the Germans and Italians east, while the British Eighth Army pushed them west. The Axis forces were pinned in Tunisia and eventually forced out of North Africa by May 1943.