The Officers' Camp ($49.95; paper $15.95; Jun. 1997; 218 pp.; 0-8101-6025-0; paper 0-8101-6026-9): Originally published in 1954 in Italy, this was the only novel by a respected historian who was held prisoner in a German concentration camp during WW II. As much a documentary as a work of fiction (and, in a minor-key way, reminiscent of Dostoyevsky's The House of the Dead), it's in essence an argument, asserting that imprisonment offered a purgation for Italians who had succumbed to the lure of fascism, and that its protagonist and others like him were ennobled by their common ordeal. Though the book's logic is intriguing and intermittently compelling, the presentation of its characters' experiences as a means to an end has an oddly, and unfortunately distancing, effect.
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