A BELL FOR ADANO by John Hersey


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If discussion can make a best seller. A Bell for Adano is headed that way. For already people who have seen it in advance of publication are violently arguing pro and con; whispers of its content have launched conjectures based solely on hearsay. Briefly, it is the story of an Italian village, retaken by the allied forces and operating under Amgot. The villagers come to life with all their oddly appealing and oddly irritating charm and childishness. One's sympathies are definitely with them -- as they come out of hiding to seek their homes again, as they shrink from finding out just where the military will exercise authority, what aftermath of Fascism survives in any form of authority. The incident on which the story hinges -- of the irate and impatient General who has a man's mule shot because the owner fell asleep and did not get off the road promptly -- and of his arbitrary edict against all carts, regardless of village economy -- bears too close analogy to an incident in General Patton's tempestuous career for comfort. Unfortunately it is on this, that the discussion of the book may rest, rather than its sensitive recording of the difficult translation of democracy in terms of a fascist-ridden village, rather than on the portrait of the Major of Italian antecedents who had done his best to interpret the American spirit to the Italian peasant.

ISBN: 0394756959
Publisher: Knopf