🇺🇸 Learn English the Hard Way with “Armageddon in Retrospect”

Chances are you are looking for improving your English language comprehension through reading books.

I know the drill. Take me right to the sentences.

Feel like upping your game and start catching the slightest subtleties of English?

Look no further.

However, there is a catch.


Who is this article intended for?

For English language learners, as they, all too often, tend to skip a lot of subtleties while reading books / reading stories / reading comics / watching movies /watching game movies, thus slowing down and negating their language progress. I

The catch has to do with the “THE HARD WAY” of learning English, right?

I can’t promise improving your English through this article will be easy, but I promise it will be worth it, provided you work through ALL THE SENTENCES down below. And by the way, to make it even more challenging for you, no answers are given and you are to find them on your own. There’s a reason this article is called “Learn English the Hard Way”, don’t you think?

Still no clue what I’m supposed to do…

If you’re still not really sure what’s going on here, I highly recommend you read the description of “Learn English the Hard Way” challenge.

russia-flag Для чего эта статья и что нужно здесь делать?

По своему опыту могу сказать, что когда в освоении английского приходишь на всё готовенькое, то интеллектуально расслабляешься и не особо вникаешь в детали и тонкости языка.

А вот когда, мы “пропускаем язык через себя”…

  1. внимательное чтение книг, просмотр фильмов, т.д… не знаем, что то или то означает, почему так написано, вообще не догоняем, что происходит, значит отмечаем находку
  2. анализ “любопытных” предложений, конструкций, выражений (грамматика и прагматика наши лучшие друзья)
  3. прогонка проработанного материала через правое полушарие
  4. задействование “освоенных” предложений, конструкций, выражений на письме, в устной речи (идеально, с носителями языка)
    …то результаты будут совершенно иными, нежели чем “со всем готовеньким”.

А именно, выработка силы воли, языковой интуиции, внимательности, любопытства и реальное улучшение навыка английского языка.

Ниже представлены предложения, которые заинтриговали меня при прочтении книги / прочтении рассказа / прочтении комикса / просмотре фильма / просмотре игрофильма. То есть, я сделал первый пункт из четырех выше и поделился результатами с Вами. За Вами остаются остальные три.


If you feel like up to the challenge, then below is my list of the cherry-picked sentences with curious grammar and vocabulary findings from the book “Armageddon in Retrospect”.

Study hard!

I’ve never known a person less interested in food. The chain-smoking had something to do with it.

I wouldn’t be a doctor for anything.

His last words in the last speech he wrote are as good a way as any for him to say good-bye

That leaves me a lot of explaining to do — in precis:

when our division was cut to ribbons by Hitler’s last desperate thrust through Luxembourg and Belgium

The 106th got a presidential Citation and some British Decoration from Montgomery for it, I’m told, but I’ll be damned if it was worth it.

Beatings were very small time: — one boy starved to death

Once home I’ll be given twenty-one days recuperation at Atterbury, about $600 back pay and — get this — sixty (60) days furlough!

But since we are on the property of a university, we can surely come up with something which has more cultural heft

Can’t you ever be serious?” The answer is, “No.”

We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.

such a perfect nothing that there wasn’t even nothing or once.

So first the Mona Lisa, and now semicolons.

Times change!

“Whatever it is.” Not bad. That one could be a keeper.

From now on you can forget the Marquess of Queensberry Rules and every other set of rules. Anything and everything goes.

We exchanged knowing winks.

I didn’t tell those simple souls that I had been captured after a week at the front

“Thank heaven we’re in an ‘open city,’” we thought, and so thought the thousands of refugees

Dresden had no reason to prepare for attack—and thereby hangs a beastly tale.

By chance I met a bombardier who had taken part in the attack.

It was rich hunting that day and the many thereafter.

but struck a mother lode before noon.

They were roaring drunk from adjacent wine cellars and seemed to enjoy their job hugely.

Death became so commonplace that we could joke about our dismal burdens and cast them about like so much garbage.

Hell’s bells,” he said, “I’m ready for Death anytime he wants to come after me.”

Bomb-sight manufacturers should blush to know that their marvelous devices laid bombs down as much as three miles wide of what the military claimed to be aiming for

Tabulate the loss against the gain.

becoming a peaceful and intellectually fruitful nation in anything but the most remote future

But I stand convinced that the brand of justice in which we dealt, wholesale bombings of civilian populations, was blasphemous.

What I saw of our air war, as the European conflict neared an end, had the earmarks of being an irrational war for war’s sake.

“There’s scientists mixed up in it, sir?” I said.

End of interview, soldier,” Poritsky said.

I was big all over—had whiskers like steel wool.

expect they’ll feed you good, with world taxes as high as they is.

I heard Ma was shooting off her bazoo to everbody about how her boy was in a time-screen company, just like she knowed what a time-screen company was

Sometimes generals would come look at us like we was going to do something sad and beautiful, but didn’t nobody say boo about no time machine.

If we looked wild when we got there, we got wilder as time went on.

our platoon done elected me to come ask you if we couldn’t find out now what we is supposed to do.

and he was crazy as a bedbug.

“Simulated this, simulated that,” Earl said. “Them ain’t simulated shells”

they can’t hardly dig in any direction and not find skulls and all.

“Their hearts was in the right place,” I said. “It’s the thought that counts.”

and I looked at that there bayonet stud like it was a wonder of the world.

All two hundred of us in the time-screen company was in a big dugout

My, he was happy.

Poritsky busted out laughing, and it took him a while to pull hisself back together.

You wouldn’t believe a man could hate bamboo and rags the way Poritsky done.

Oh, that man knowed his psychology backwards and forwards.

just made us so mad we couldn’t hardly see straight.

“I was born to fight!” he hollered. “I’m rusting out inside!”

Kniptash was inclined to regard the portions as niggardly, and to double all the quantities involved.

You brown it on each side for about five minutes, add chopped celery, onions, and carrots, and season to taste.

He was an oasis of compassion and inefficiency in the desert of Nazi Germany.

their being marched out to work in the streets every morning under the sad blue eyes of the lackadaisical Kleinhans was no better, no worse than the fates of their better-behaved comrades behind the barbed-wire

The notebook craze had begun with Donnini’s telling Coleman how to make Pizza pie

Kniptash had given the place of honor to his pancake horror

Coleman erased. “Well?” he said expectantly.

All day, every day, all I hear is food! Get up. Get to work!

on the same day that Kleinhans had begged for and been refused relief from the punishment detail

Kleinhans had been in a terrible temper, and had railed at his three charges for not keeping in step

Now we draw pretty pictures! Back to work, do you understand?

His stride was spry as ever, and he still seemed capable of drawing pleasure from the fresh air

Again he seemed faraway, lost in thought.

“Not today. Some other day we can come out here, maybe. But not today.” The boy was crestfallen.

the soldiers had found the hidingplace where, miracle of miracles, the old man and the boy had lived in the ruins for seven years without documents

“Brighten up, will you!

I’d rather not, thank you,” I said icily.

“Hungry after all that work, I’ll bet.” I was ravenous.

I remarked on his unsuspected skill as a barber.

Nothing, really,” he said. “Sometimes I surprise myself.”

and courteous Eagle Scout was to lay the foundations for a bountiful life

All of us worked, that is, but Louis.

I flopped down on my bunk

Ersatz coffee, one bowl of watered soup, and three slices of dry bread

There’s no sense in going hungry.

I swore by all that is holy that I would never reveal the magnanimity of Louis, my best friend.

The guard I do business with told me the whole bottom’s dropped out of the watch market since all these guys came in from the Bulge. Too many watches all at one time is what did it.

If you feel gypped, all you have to do is say the word, and I’ll take this back and get your watch again.

He chewed and swallowed until a major portion of the great wad of bread was cleared from his mouth

His avowed harmony with Nazi principles convinced our keepers that he was the only bright one among us

go ahead and starve to death. Love’s a wonderful thing, they tell me.

The guards found themselves without a smoke to their names

At first we shunned the grave goods. For one thing, some of us felt that stripping corpses was a revolting business, and for another, to be caught at it was certain death.

“Folks got to be governed.”

To their sorrow,” said Elmer.

“I guess they done found Robert the Horrible.”

Thus sealing my doom,” said Elmer.

In the year 1067, anno Domini, in the village of Stow-on-the-Wold, England

Hanged by Robert the Horrible, a friend of William the Conqueror, they boxed the compass with fishy eyes

his young mind waterlogged in a puddle of family tragedy.

His small frame was laced with scraggly ropes of muscle

he had been told to represent Robert the Horrible’s greed—or die horribly.

I guess I can dream if I want to,” said Ivy.

“I guess that’s a woman’s privilege.”

And maybe, if you collect so many taxes they can’t hardly believe it, maybe they’ll invite us to the castle sometimes.”

“Folks got to be protected,” said Ivy, “and armor and castles don’t come cheap.”

He had passed his breaking point.

“No, Ivy,” said Elmer tensely, “I am not through.

I never said a word. But now I’m going to speak my piece.

And you getting yourself hung ain’t going to make anything better, neither

Elmer almost slipped away to sleep, so much at one was he with the plan of things.

The little family was stuffed with venison.

Ethelbert, on watch at the door, wiped his lips with a plume.

But he found the reprieve a dull affair compared to the other thoughts carousing in the stately dome of his head.

And who can say in which minute a child was born? When its head appeared? When all of it was outside the mother? When the umbilical cord was cut?

If she had been a breech-birth, of course, the eyes would have been almost the last things to appear.

and the business people who had donated the prizes took all the hoopla about her at all seriously, the blather about her representing so many wonderful things

the rebirth of the spirit which had once made New York the greatest city in the world in the greatest nation in the world, and just plain peace, and I don’t know what all.

She was our first child. Ah me.

Paul’s garish adventures as a prisoner of war in Sudetenland lost their troubling forms as they mired down in the past

It was not likely that the Germans bewailed Paul’s plundering, for one rusty and badly bent Luftwaffe saber was the whole of his loot.

came home laden with treasure like Spanish galleons, while Paul was content with his foolish relic.

Though he had weeks to seek and take what he would, his first hours as a swashbuckling conqueror were his last.

God knows the arrogant block-heads have been begging for it

Paul cavorted about their trucks, laughing and shouting

came to smash and loot and burn for the merry hell of it

He and his friends watched the earnest pillagers at work, giving them sickly smiles whenever a group passed by

An exultant pair of Scotchmen had made friends with such a group

The three Americans talked it up among themselves

When his eyes became accustomed to the darkness he could see a rabbit hutch in which a fat, white rabbit sat, twinkling his pink nose and breathing quickly. This was sensational luck, the pièce de résistance for the banquet.

He disappeared into the barn for an agonizing long time.

and then sank to the doorsill to bury his face in the fur and sob his heart out.

“Whaddya say, Sammy?” I shrugged.

What the hell—let’s go.”


“What did you find—the crown jewels?”

Better’n that, Sammy.”

I sat. “That’s my buddy,” he said

This story is about soldiers, but it isn’t exactly a war story. The war was over when it all happened, so I guess that makes it a murder story.

Rooskies only a couple of miles back, you know. Don’t want to mix it with them, do you?

I’m just playing the guards for chumps.

They were waiting outside the fence, at the mouth of the tunnel

and he could trade the smokes for just about anything in camp he wanted.

and the guards let him use an iron they had in their shack, so he was the camp fashion plate

I couldn’t figure out what his angle was on suddenly becoming a great pal of mine. And George was the kind of guy who always had an angle.

Both speaking German, we ought to make out real good, you and me.

“Get a mob, and they’ll louse up everything,” he said winking. “Two’s just right.”

The hell of it is that I wasn’t forced into doing what I did. I wasn’t cornered. I did it because I wanted to.

Every gate stood open—unconditional surrender.

Ain’t this cozy, Sammy? Looks like we got the place all to ourselves.

To the victor go the spoils.

Whoever lived here took off in a hurry

Go out in the kitchen and get yourself something to eat, for God’s sake.

Thanks, but it’d probably kill me, the shape I’m in.

Thanks, but it’d probably kill me, [given is omitted] the shape I’m in.

The war’s over, boy! Is that something to drink to, or is it?

He smiled, as though I’d just paid tribute to him for the slick deals he’d pulled

You’re boiled, George. Forget it. Nobody’s going to—

I got it doped out just right. Being a collaborator—that’s treason, ain’t it? They can hang you for that, can’t they?

This won’t take long, if you see things my way, Sammy.

George, with his corner on cigarettes, had managed to get just about every cent the Germans had missed

Gave Jerry a hundred smokes for it. Cleaned me out to do it.

Whaddya mean, when? Just before he got it, if you want to know

You guys pinned that on me because I had it good and you didn’t.

It was a crack-brained scheme, without a prayer of working.

Maybe, with a buzz on, he thought it would work—but now he seemed to be changing his mind.

I want the tags awful bad, Sammy.

Everybody’s down on old George, ever since Jerry got it

“I was no collaborator,” I said.

Sure, surefought ’em every inch of the way.”

and Captain Donnini walked in. “Pardon me,” he said.

I guess we’ll have to,” I said. “Your side won the war.”

“everyone has reasons for being numb.”

“That’s the last defense,” said Marta. “Numbness or suicide.”

Now, praise God, I was seeing Americans again—after the Nazis, after the Russian Army of World War II

They haven’t left a stick of furniture

He’s real smart, Pop is,” said the major acidly.

I’m so new to Europe, I can’t—if you’ll pardon the expressionfind my behind with both hands.

And I didn’t figure to wind up here as a combination constable, county clerk, and wailing wall

driving jeeps through the street at breakneck speeds

The people of Beda were so used to keeping silent and out of sight

and beneath it was grave misgiving

What made the labor particularly deadly is that it wasn’t concerned with repairing the war damage to the town so much as with making the American garrison’s quarters more comfortable

Shame was the order of the day, and budding pride or hope was promptly nipped. We weren’t entitled to them

He carried out the orders with a reluctance I’m sure he could have been court-martialed for

and most of his talk with us was a guarded apology for what he had to do.

if I’d been fighting for three years, I wonder how friendly I would be.

The Czechs have paid with interest, God knows.

With the whitewashed rocks, Beda looks better than it did before the war. You’d never know it had been shelled

Marta, for the love of Heaven, I won’t have you talking that way

Once or twice, when he’s been tight, he’s said he wished he’d been killed

And that’s all I’m here for. And the next person who tells me he was a pal of the Russians because he had to be gets his teeth kicked in

Nothing in it (in Europe) but gutless wonders who’ll follow any damn dictator that comes along

wondering at how its front blended so perfectly with the ornamentation. “Makes me wish I had secrets.”

“If you mean that I offer these ideas in a playful spirit, yes.”

“Then you think they’re hokum?”

“Going to be the first M.I.T. alumnus to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Think there’s a living in it?


Such a sober boy.

He said so in book after book, all printed at his own expense

Onliest thing in the world that’s wrong with folks is that the Devil’s got aholt of some of ’em.

just between the well-educated pair of us, this is a lot of hooey.”

All the sober, thin-lipped concentration is really just a matter of tidying up around the fringes of the big ideas.

In the first four counties, 97,000 of the headsets were passed out, to be worn, for a consideration, night and day

where the air was forever filled with self-pity and the dullest laments imaginable.

It’s years too soon to say whether we were doing a job on the Devil or what.

Now Pine’s got everybody all whooped up to thinking all we have to do is turn on a couple of gadgets or something, and earth’ll be Eden again.

so it won’t hurt anything to assume a few things more

Hurry up, then—the last check I sent the Power and Light Company was as rubber as your overshoes

The Foundation employs a skeleton staff of three paid caretakers, who work in shifts around the clock

Wow, it seems you’ve made it to the end of this new-vocabulary-grammar-intensive article… But did you actually work through all the findings?  No shirking? Sweet! That’s what I call being persistent at mastering English!


russia-flag Вы дочитали и проработали статью до конца? Так держать!

Если Вы дочитали до конца эту статью, то я уверен, что Вы узнали много нового про английский язык (при условии, что Вы действительно проработали предложения выше).

Проработать так много материала это совсем не шутки, а вполне серьёзный подход к делу.

Теперь же дело за малым: эффективно всё перенести в речевой актив и начать всласть применять новые знания на практике (пункт 3 и 4, соответсвенно).

Спасибо за то, что уделили время.

Удачи в Вашем языковом путешествии!


I am crazy enough to do the whole nine-yards over again. Please bring me to the beginning of the sentences. Yeah!

Did you know that you are more than encouraged to go ahead and tell me in the comments section below how the whole process went?

With that, thanks for taking your time accepting the challenge, reading and working through the article.

Until next time!


6 thoughts on “🇺🇸 Learn English the Hard Way with “Armageddon in Retrospect”

  1. “Попытался” проработать предложения, прошёл через все 173 и вот мои потуги:

    1. Such a perfect nothing that there wasn’t even nothing or once.
    Самое дубовое предложение, так и не смог перевести и понять.

    2. The guard I do business with told me the whole bottom’s dropped out of the watch market since all these guys came in from the Bulge. Too many watches all at one time is what did it.
    Тут немного яснее. “Охранник с кем я имею дело сказал мне, всё “дно” выдавили с рынка с того момента как пришли эти ребята из/с “Bulge”. Слишком много часов …и тут провал.

    3. If you feel gypped, all you have to do is say the word, and I’ll take this back and get your watch again.
    Тут всё понятно (наверное), просто хочу вставить пять копеек. Как я понимаю – Gypped – Gypsy – цыган. Аналог русского “сцыганить”- своровать. Если ты чувствуешь себя обворованным. Видел в сериале слово “shanghaied” от китайского “Шанхай”
    -It’s not my fault I got shanghaied.
    -You didn’t get shanghaied. You got ripped off. (тебя не обманули а ограбили)
    Интересно так сделали привязку к городу вместо национальности.

    4. The guards found themselves without a smoke to their names.
    Тут вообще не понял смысл. При чём тут сигареты?

    5. “I guess they done found Robert the Horrible.”
    “Thus sealing my doom,” said Elmer.
    Тут видимо фраза из какого-то старого произведения. Тоже не понятно.

    6. The war’s over, boy! Is that something to drink to, or is it?
    И тут не понятно.

    7. Maybe, with a buzz on, he thought it would work—but now he seemed to be changing his mind.
    “buzz on” не смог перевести.

    8. Nothing in it (in Europe) but gutless wonders who’ll follow any damn dictator that comes along.
    Тут интересное слово “gutless” – “безкишечный” аналог “кишка тонка”. У них кстати аналог нашего “изливать душу” – “проливать кишки” . Don’t be in a hurry to spill your guts. She doesn’t need your life story. Before you get salad.

    Почитал биографию автора. Курт воевал во второй, был в плену у немцев. Много произведений на тему войны. Видимо тяжёлый автор.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Потуги не потуги, но Вам я виртуально жму руку! Серьёзно подходите к делу, выучить английский через гипноз Вы не верите. Побольше бы таких людей!
      Не то, что воевал, а пережил бомбёжку Дрездена, в которой погибло больше людей, чем в Хиросиме и Нагасаки. Автор не тяжёлый, наоборот, очень много чёрного юмора да и просто про жизнь, как она есть, без всякой мишуры. Просто именно эта книга является сборником его ранних коротких рассказов, в которых он ещё не выработал свой стиль письма. Я прочитал почти все его книги, и они представлены на сайте в формате “разбери сам”.

      Теперь к вопросам, помогу с ними:
      1) Здесь скорее мой косяк, потому что контекст представлен неполностью: “Science sent the Hubble telescope out into space, so it could capture light and the absence thereof, from the very beginning of time. And the telescope really did that. So now we know that there was once absolutely nothing, such a perfect nothing that there wasn’t even nothing or once.”
      Меня тут заинтересовало “once” в качестве существительного, не думал, что оно может использоваться так. Идёт отсылка к тому, что в начале времён в космосе было идеальное “ничто”, настолько идеальное, что там в космосе “ничего” не было, и не было момента “однажды”. Интересно “once” в качестве существительного.
      2) “bottom dropped out of the market” – рынок просел ввиду того, что стало очень много часов и их цена упала. А конструкция “is what did it” это краткое объяснение (what made the bottom dropped out of the market) “Слишком много часов, вот что заставило просесть рынок”.
      3) gypped – абсолютно правильно. Тут интереснее другое: “all you have to do is say the word” После “is” нет “to”. Это важно. Очень часто ошибаются и ставят после “All you have to do is to talk to him”. Про “shanghaied” не слышал раньше – интересно.
      4) Изначальная идиома “not have a penny to (one’s) name” – буквально “не иметь и пени на своё имя”. Что сделал автор, он слово “пени” поменял на “сигареты”, то есть не было у охранников сигарет, просто более витиеватый способ сказать это на английском. “He doesn’t have any common sense to his name” – можно с абстрактными для пущего эффекта.
      5) Нет, фраза не из старого произведения, просто делается акцент на то, что говорящий малограмотный, так называемый “redneck English”.
      done found = has found / found – прошедшее время
      также есть вариция “gone and done + past simple
      и вариация “up and + past simple”
      6) “to drink to” – выпить за, как тост. “Пью за твоё здоровье” – “I’m drinking to your health”. “Something” даёт вот такой перевод: Разве это не то, за что стоит выпить / поднять бокал?. Вопрос-хвостик “or is it” – разве не.
      7) buzz on – алкогольное опьянение. сцена, когда один пленный пытается уговорить второго поменяться с ним документами. Первый налил второму алкоголь и уламывает первого. “with a buzz on” – с помощью алкогольного опьянения
      8) изначальная идиома “titless wonder” – перевод я думаю и так понятен 🙂 не очень лестный отзыв о ком-либо: “an oafish or awkward person. (Usually objectionable)”. Автор ловко поменял “titless” на “gutless” (даже количество букв одинаковое) – бесхарактерое чудо – (как на русском, “Ну ты и чудо конечно”).
      “spill the guts” – хорошая идиома.

      Самое важное во всех этих разборах уловить тонкости и языковые оттенки на английском языке, не обязательно всегда давать художественный перевод, даже просто объяснить самому себе, нудно и долго, что это значит на русском языке.
      После разбора, всё это дело нужно занести в Anki и начать повторять. И конечно пользоваться новыми словами и выражениями как можно чаще!
      Надеюсь помог!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Эх с номером 2 как знатно обосрался то, а так красиво мысли шли. Мол “bottom” – дно, не конкурентно-способное жульё, сомнительный делец и т.д.
    А в пятом да, я обратил внимание на “done found” ну думаю оборот такой. Но имел в виду “Thus sealing my doom”. Что-то поэтичное из Шекспира. Слово ещё такое редкое “Doom”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. главное, что попробовали, бросили вызов самому себе 🙂
      fate is sealed – изначальная идиома, меняем fate на doom.
      doom используется довольно часто.
      Вообще сложно было?

      Рекомендую, если совсем хочется по полному мясу разобрать что-нибудь, игрофильм Макс Пейн

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Обычный текст переводить очень сложно порой, а в случае замены слов в идиомах – так вообще нереально иностранцу понять, не говоря уже о самих идиомах. Хорошо что есть такие как Вы. Макс Пэйн как раз собирался следующим делом прорабатывать, очень нравилась игра. Ещё бы Deus Ex первую часть….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Спасибо за лестные слова!
      Полные разборы, как я сделал с книгами про Гарри Поттера, времени физически не хватает, а вот выделить жирным шрифтом то, что мне показалось при чтении книг / просмотре игрофильмов тд интересным и должно также показаться интересным тем, кто хочет самостоятельно разобраться в тонкостях языка, мне нетрудно. Я очень долго сам не обращал внимание на мелочи и очень многое упускал из виду. Если бы время можно было вернуть назад…
      Этот месяц, месяц игрофильмов, поэтому да, посмотрю Deus EX: Human Revoultion и Mankind Divided и выделю жирным шрифтом интересные конструкции.

      Liked by 1 person

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