From Publishers Weekly
Michael Kramer brings life to the three young American soldiers, trudging their way up a mountain near Cassino, Italy in the winter of 1944, in Bausch's acclaimed novel. The reading is at a laidback pace, which works well when combined with Bausch's slightly terse and straightforward writing. With only slight shifts in tone for each character, Kramer relies on the honesty of his voice and his ability to capture the essence of every human emotion. When the characters are exhausted, downbeat and depressed, the listener can feel it; when they argue amongst themselves, the audience will feel like entering the fray. Kramer brings the listener along for the journey and a memorable one it is. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 25). (June)
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*Starred Review* How to fictionalize war? A novelist can take a panoramic perspective and write about generals and battles or focus on a single participant’s fear and courage. Bausch, a consummate and versatile short story writer and novelist, tells one soldier’s story in a war novel distilled to its chilling essence. The earth itself is an adversary as Corporal Robert Marson takes two men on a miserable recon mission in Italy at the bitter end of Word War II. The nervous Americans draft an old man they’re not sure they can trust as their guide. The rain is piercing, the hill they climb turns out to be a mountain, and it begins to snow. Someone is hunting them, shots ring out from the village below in ominously measured bursts, and it feels like the end of the world. Their awful travail is made worse by bigot Joyner’s needling of Asch, a Jew. Marson thinks of his sunny past and the baby daughter he’s never seen and tries to hold on to a sense of right and wrong. Bausch’s tale of one act in the immense blood-dark theater of military conflict is razor-sharp, sorrowfully poetic, and steeped in the wretched absurdity of war, the dream of peace. --Donna Seaman
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