Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: A Bell for Adano

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.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


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.


  1. "What is so fascinating about the book is that Hersey wrote it in 1944, while the war was still going on."

    I love when this happens. It immerses you in a way that feels so immediate. Irene Nemirovsky's books come to mind...

  2. Cath: It does feel "immediate" -- great word to describe it. And Nemirovsky is a good example. Her Suite Francais book had some of the same feel, although tinged with tragedy in a way Hersey's book isn't.

  3. It's interesting to see how older prize winners stand up to the test of time. It sounds like this one did well.

  4. I hadn't heard of this... and I am usually drawn to WWII literature. I like that it was written as the war still raged on... definitely adding to me TBR list!

  5. I've never heard of this one but it's the kind of book I would read. I love the fact it was written while the war was still waging. Thanks for linking to the I Love Italy Challenge page!


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