John Hersey won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for A Bell for Adano, the story of an American Army officer in Sicily during World War II. The Italian-American Major Joppolo wins the hearts and minds of the people of the town of Adano by, among other things, helping them find a replacement for the town bell, which the Fascists had melted down for cannon parts.
What is so fascinating about the book is that Hersey wrote it in 1944, while the war was still going on. This explains both its lively, action-oriented style and its slightly forced tone of rally-the-troops enthusiasm.
It isn't a deep retrospective of the war or the politics of invasion. It is breezy and fresh and filled with funny character sketches and set pieces involving the people of Adano and their interactions with the American officers running their town.
A Bell for Adano is a quick and entertaining read. It is definitely worthwhile for its first-hand perspective on an aspect of World War II most of us never consider -- life on the "home front" of Italy after the Allies invaded.
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This counts as one of my Pulitzer choices for the 2012 Battle of the Prizes, American Version.
It also counts for three TBR challenges: the Mt. TBR Challenge hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block, the Off the Shelf challenge hosted by the team at Bookish Ardour, and the TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader. And the I Love Italy Challenge, hosted by the Library of Clean Reads.