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A Soldier of the Great War Paperback – June 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In "A Soldier of the Great War" Mark Helprin creates a story encompassing the whole of humanity weaving reality with a world of fantastic wonder. The unbelievable becomes real and what seems simple is only deceptively so and bends into the fascinatingly complex.
Helprin's style is enigmatic; his tale told in equal parts masculine bravado and contemplative delicacy. It is nothing short of astonishing.
Beginning with the preparation for a visit to his daughter, we follow the elderly Alessandro Giuliani on a seemingly routine bus journey. Things turn and a short journey turns into adventure when the old man comes to the aid of a teenager and he begins sharing his story and the lessons learned over a life rich and eventful. A life of youthful privilege gives way to the horrors of WWI and discoveries of love, loss and destiny.
Helprin elevates American fiction to that pantheon we reserve for storytellers the likes of Dickens, Cervantes, Dumas and Hesse. With this book (and to a certain degree "Winter's Tale")- he tightens the gap between great writers of "then" and "now" bringing contemporary fiction a true and rare respectability.
All adulation would, of course, mean nothing if this were receiving accolades solely on style and structure and ignoring the "readability" factor. On that front, I can only say this is a book I cannot imagine anyone not falling in love with and that, my friends, is the rarest book of all.
Little did I know then, when I had meandered across Helprin's advice, that it would be central to my ability to write my thoughts on "A Soldier of the Great War." For about the same length of time as that advice had been imprinted somewhere in my brain, I had also been faced with the daunting prospect of commenting on a thrice-read book, now bulging with scores of page markers as reminders to me of phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and even full pages, all worthy of comment. And, it seemed, the longer I put this task off, the more daunting it became.
Fortunately, this block was broken in the recent past, when I needed to give careful thought to a birthday gift for a friend. The gift couldn't appear to be too lavish, except in the riches of its contents. It needed to be something that would be new to this friend (and here I was at some risk), and at the same time something that would not soon - if ever - be forgotten. In the end, I decided to chance it with "A Soldier of the Great War," enclosing a brief note regarding what was in store. And the working through of that note was the curative that I needed for providing my comments on this Helprin work. So I threw my own stone into the pool and dove in after it.Read more ›
Mark Helprin has written the 'perfect' book! This novel has everything - philosophy, adventure, great drama, pathos and tragedy, surrealism (of the John Irving type), comedy, romance, art history, riveting characterization, imaginative plotting and structure, and evocative writing.
As an English and history teacher, with a grim fascination for the horror that was WWI, I was astounded by the brilliance of having the main character, a student of aesthetics, confronting the ugliness of the war. This novel just worked for me. The sweep of the character's wanderings, from the Italian Alps, to the dusty hills of Sicily; from the catacombs of Rome to the back streets of Venice, are especially appealing to those who have visited Italy. There are scenes that are seared into my mind - like the one in the Carrera marble quarry, where the marble that once supplied the great Renaissance masters now supplies gravestones for a million dead Italian soldiers.
This novel inspired me to go to Venice to view "La Tempesta" myself. It's that kind of book. Read it. You WON"T be disappointed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am an unusually well read reader in the English language. I consider this the best novel I have ever read. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Michael Mcdaniel
Just finished; I read it slowly, word for word, over a few weeks. I knew from the first page it was magical and I didn't want it to end. Read morePublished 1 month ago by pamnperry
Except for enduring distraction that occurred early on where the reader is made to believe a full moon can occur several dark hours after dusk, I thoroughly enjoyed this work.Published 2 months ago by zartman
Interesting. Gave the reader a good look at the hardship of that and what horrors man does to man.Published 2 months ago by Carmel Orillion
One of my favorite books of all time. Just bought a copy to pass along to a friend. Waiting to hear what he thinks. This is probably the best of Helprin's works I have read.Published 3 months ago by Janet Patterson