rivaled any written at Shiloh or Gallipoli

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NewAmerica

Banned
Mandarin
Do you native English speakers have any feeling of Shiloh or Gallipoli when reading the following? Are they simply two place names without particular sense in grammar or rhetoric?



Thanks in advance

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found the experience of sitting undisturbed for three days amid pristine breezes and starlight, with nothing to do but contemplate the mystery of my existence, to be a source of perfect misery—for which I could see not so much as a glimmer of my own contribution. My letters home, in their plaintiveness and self-pity, rivaled any written at Shiloh or Gallipoli.

-Waking Up by Sam Harris (Page 7)
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Correct. Sam Harris was born long after those battles took place.
    He is comparing the gloom (plaintiveness and self-pity) in his own letters, which he wrote home from this place that he has just described (which from your short extract sounds like a blissful holiday location, but he found it boring),
    with the gloom the emanates from letters (it's not clear whether he means putative letters or actual ones that he has seen) written home by soldiers at those battles.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Shiloh and Gallipoli weren't just famous battles. They were known as especially bloody battles, with an unusually high fraction of the combatants killed or wounded. That would be reflected in the tone of the letters people wrote home after them.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    My letters home, in their plaintiveness and self-pity, rivaled any written at Shiloh or Gallipoli.
    This sounds like him trying to be self-deprecating. He is saying he was so upset when he wrote those letters that they made it sound as if he had been through an experience like fighting at Shiloh or Gallipoli. I'm not sure he succeeded at being humble.
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    He is saying he was so upset when he wrote those letters that they made it sound as if he had been through an experience like fighting at Shiloh or Gallipoli. I'm not sure he succeeded at being humble.
    :thumbsup:

    He is trying to be witty. The problem is he is making what some might consider a comparison which is in poor taste. My great-uncle died at Gallipoli in 1915. As Egmont said the action, and that of Shiloh, was bloody. In the case of Gallipoli it was grinding as well, as it continued from April 1915 to January 1916 with a total of 352,787 dead, wounded or missing/captured. At Shiloh the total was 23,746, and that was in only two days.

    He is trying to say that "I was a whingeing/moaning teenager", but frankly I think there are better ways to say it creatively.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Do you native English speakers have any feeling of Shiloh or Gallipoli when reading the following? Are they simply two place names without particular sense in grammar or rhetoric?
    The author seems to be making sure he gets his point across to native speakers on both sides of the Atlantic : any educated British person will know something about the disastrous campaign of Gallipoli, but not so many will be familiar with Shiloh , whereas I imagine that any American is likely to know all about Shiloh (whether they are familiar with Gallipoli too, I've no idea).
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The author seems to be making sure he gets his point across to native speakers on both sides of the Atlantic : any educated British person will know something about the disastrous campaign of Gallipoli, but not so many will be familiar with Shiloh , whereas I imagine that any American is likely to know all about Shiloh (whether they are familiar with Gallipoli too, I've no idea).
    And if it were a sentence with a reference to some place in Asia or Africa or ancient history that we were not familiar with, we'd probably go running to search engine to see what showed up:)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    whereas I imagine that any American is likely to know all about Shiloh
    More than likely, they wouldn't. Someone educated in the intricacies of the Civil War would, but that's a decided minority. Gettysburg is the most famous American Civil War battle and the one with the most casualties - 51,000 in three days of fighting, with the most deaths of any battle. That's the battle that you would expect most people to have heard of, since it was a major turning point in the war and will always be known as the site of one of Abraham Lincoln's most famous speeches - known as the Gettysburg Address. Shiloh is just one of many bloody battles in that war and not well known in this day and age by most. All in all, I think he failed to make his point very effectively in that passage.

    (whether they are familiar with Gallipoli too, I've no idea).
    Many people are probably more familiar with Gallipolli, since it's a famous Mel Gibson movie.:rolleyes:
     
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    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I had never heard of Shiloh other than in the context of Shiloh Ranch from the long-running TV Western The Virginian.
    Shiloh is just one of many bloody battles in that war and not well known in this day and age by most.
    The Battle of Shiloh is of particular importance because (1) it was the first truly large-scale battle of the Civil War, and caused Americans, particularly the Northern press, to completely reevaluate the character of the war, (2) in fact, more Americans died at Shiloh than had died in all other American wars and engagements to that point combined, and (3) it forged Grant's character as a commander; his willingness to stand up to dreadful losses and keep putting men into action -- which gave rise to Lincoln's famous remark after this battle, "I can't spare this man, he fights" -- was what would ultimately see the Army of the Potomac grind out a victory in the campaign at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    The Battle of Shiloh is of particular importance because (1) it was the first truly large-scale battle of the Civil War, and caused Americans, particularly the Northern press, to completely reevaluate the character of the war, (2) in fact, more Americans died at Shiloh than had died in all other American wars and engagements to that point combined, and (3) it forged Grant's character as a commander; his willingness to stand up to dreadful losses and keep putting men into action -- which gave rise to Lincoln's famous remark after this battle, "I can't spare this man, he fights" -- was what would ultimately see the Army of the Potomac grind out a victory in the campaign at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor.
    Informative!
     
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