Italian journalist Fallaci (Letter to a Child Never Born, 1977, etc.; the novel A Man, 1980) here delivers herself of a ""miniature Iliad"" focused on the Italian contingent of Allied forces sent to Beirut when that city was destroying itself following the Sabra and Shatila massacres; she pays enormous homage to her countrymen by making them Everymen. As in any comprehensive war novel below the level of War and Peace, there's a type for every class, gender, and clichÃ‰: the Seneca-quoting officer, the young mathematician soldier gored by the fact that he cannot apply reason to madness, the coarse peasant with bravery beyond call, the underclass assassin, the doomed love affair, the noble nuns in a besieged convent. There is a metafictional ""author"" delivering commentary on the novel as it goes; an attenuated comic episode, meant to leaven, involving an inflatable sex-doll; as well as long meditations on violence and war and even Hemingway. A mess of a book--churning, long-winded, terribly translated into graceless English--and yet, for all that, also a fascination. Fallaci knows she has Hell as her subject, and will not let up for even a second before its sovereignty. Beirut's parochial self-destruction, only a decade ago, recalls Sarajevo's suicide now--and makes you realize how short human memory truly is. Fallaci's passionate involvement in just about everything human, including inshallah--fate--is magnificent finally--exhausting and embarrassing much of the time, but a feat of unflinching and intelligent attention by a dynamo.