The thoroughly disenchanted excursion of search made through the gigantic thieves' market that Rome had become in late 1944 by a no longer young poet-artist whose fine new bicycle had been brazenly stolen from under his nose. This is the book on which the great Italian film is based--It is somewhat different from the film--deeper and more subtle in its implications. The artist--a courageous non-conformist during the fascist regime--periodically beaten up and exiled during the 20-odd years of Il Duce--had welcomed the advent of the allied armies. Yet the boys from Canada and the banks of the Mississippi brought nothing but further chaos (at least momentarily) with them to the starving capital where in those first months of confusion only their well-paid and over-worked lady acquaintances earned enough to eat. A half-humorous, half-bitter and totally ironical little memoir of what totalitarianism and war do to a country, a people and, in essence, the world, which has lost the ""irretrievable"", this is a mature concept of the way things are that is not for the incurably starry-eyed.