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Peaceby Richard Bausch
Synopses & Reviews
They went on anyway, putting one foot in front of the other, holding their carbines barrel down to keep the water out, trying, in their misery and confusion--and their exhaustion--to remain watchful. This was the fourth straight day of rain--a windless, freezing downpour without any slight variation of itself. Rivulets of ice formed in the muck of the road and made the walking treacherous. The muscles of their legs burned and shuddered, and none of them could get enough air. Robert Marson thought about how they were all witnesses. And nobody could look anybody in the eye. They kept on, and were punished as they went. Ice glazed their helmets, stuck to the collars of their field jackets, and the rain got in everywhere, soaking them to the bone. They were somewhere near Cassino, but it was hard to believe it was even Italy anymore. They had stumbled blind into some province of drenching cold, a berg of death. Everything was in question now.
The Italians were done, and the Germans were retreating, engaging in delaying actions, giving way slowly, skirmishing, seeking to make every inch of ground costly in time and in blood, and there were reconnaissance patrols all along the front, pushing north, heading into the uncertainty of where the Germans might be running, or waiting.
Marson, sick to his soul, barely matched the pace of the two men just in front of him, who were new. Their names were Lockhart and McCaig, and they themselves were lagging behind four others: Troutman, Asch, Joyner, and Sergeant Glick. Seven men. Six witnesses.
The orders had been to keep going until you found the enemy. Then you were supposed to make your way back, preferably without having been seen. But the enemy had the same kinds of patrols, and so recon also meant going forward until you were fired upon. Worse, this was a foot patrol. If you ran into anything serious, there wouldn't be any jeeps to ride out, nor tanks to help you. You were alone in the waste of the war.
And there were only the seven of them now.
Twelve men had left one tank battalion the first day, crossed country, and then slept under the tanks of another on the second, all in the changeless fall of the rain. McConnell, Padruc, and Bailey came down with the dysentery and had to be taken back to Naples. So the patrol left that camp with nine men.
Walberg and Hopewell were killed yesterday.
Yesterday, a farmer's cart full of wet straw had come straggling along the road being pulled by a donkey and driven by two Italian boys--gypsies, really--who looked like sopping girls, their long, black, soaked hair framing their faces, their wet cloaks hiding their bodies. Sergeant Glick waved them away, and they melted into the glazed second growth beside the road. Then he ordered that the cart be overturned in order to look for weapons or contraband. Troutman and Asch accomplished this, and as the waterlogged, mud-darkened straw collapsed from the bed of the cart, a Kraut officer and a whore tumbled out, cursing. The Kraut shot Walberg and Hopewell with his black Luger before Corporal Marson put him down. The whore, soggy and dirty and ill looking, wearing another officer's tunic over a brown skirt, spoke only German, and she shouted more curses at them, gesticulating and trying to hit at McCaig and Joyner, who held her. Sergeant Glick looked at Hopewell and Walberg, ascertained that they were dead, then walked over, put
This is Richard Bausch's eleventh novel. He is also the
During the winter of 1944, three soldiers are sent on a reconnaissance mission up a mountain in Italy, near Mount Cassino, led by seventy-year-old Angelo, an Italian of indeterminate loyalty, and are confronted by the terror, confusion, and hardship of their mission, which is enhanced by a life-altering encounter with a sniper, in a story of the human cost of war. 35,000 first printing.
From the prize-winning novelist and world-renowned short story writer, recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award and the Academy Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, a powerful novel about war, trust, and salvation that begs to be read in a single sitting.
Italy, near Cassino. The terrible winter of 1944. A dismal icy rain, continuing unabated for days. Guided by a seventy-year-old Italian man in rope-soled shoes, three American soldiers are sent on a reconnaissance mission up the side of a steep hill that they discover, before very long, to be a mountain. And the old man’s indeterminate loyalties only add to the terror and confusion that engulf them on that mountain, where they are confronted with the horror of their own time—and then set upon by a sniper.
Taut and propulsive—with its spare language, its punishing landscape, and the keenly drawn portraits of the three young soldiers at its center—Peace is a feat of economy, compression, and imagination, a brutal and unmistakably contemporary meditation on the corrosiveness of violence, the human cost of war, and the redemptive power of mercy.
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