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The Last Valley Hardcover – 1959

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Little, Brown, and Co.; First Edition edition (1959)
  • ASIN: B000H572Z4
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,674,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By James Vella Bardon on May 31, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story is set in a war-ravaged Germany during the 30 years war in the early years of the 17th C. No one can remember why the war started, but everyone's boiling the stewpot further, Catholics allied with Protestants against Catholics on the one hand and Lutherans allied with Papists against Lutherans on the other, be they Swedes, Dutch, Italians, Spaniards, Poles etc. The country's an utter basketcase in which the tormented scholar Vogel has been on the run for years from one mercenary-ravaged village to another. One day he stumbles half-dead & by chance upon a fat beautiful fertile valley which is hidden away and is yet unravaged. Some mercenaries however enter the village right after him and Vogel is led before their captain. Knowing his number's probably up, Vogel finds the temerity to argue with the ruthless captain, telling him to winter in the valley & live side by side with the peasants instead of destroying it and rejoining an army. I won't go into further detail and ruin the plot, except to say that Pick's writing is precise, completely realistic & never more elaborate than it should be. The way he develops the relationship between the two main characters is painfully profound to the point of heart-rending beauty and the novel's ending cannot leave you unmoved. The other characters are also entirely realistic. Unfortunately it's hard to buy the novel now which (unbelievably) is out of print (this is one of the best historical novels I've read if not the best one) but in '70 James Clavell (author of Shogun etc.) directed a movie about it which featured excellent performances by both Michael Caine & Omar Sharif.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Larry B on March 2, 2015
Format: Hardcover
If you saw the Movie as directed by James Clavell, you must read this book. They are bot outstanding. They differ enough to make them unique.

This is a very good way to visualize life during the 30 years ware. you see the daily boredom and risks of the mercenary armies. You see the natural hostility between the nomad soldiers and land bound peasantry.

The armies were usually unpaid and had to scavenge friendly and hostile territories to find feed, fodder, and wealth. They usually took food for immediate consumption, confiscated cattle for later slaughter or sale, tore down houses for firewood, Harvested, or forced to be harvested standing crops. Then did a detailed search for hidden wealth. It usually took a couple of days for an army of a thousand or more to consume a village. After satisfying immediate needs what was left was broken up, thrown in a river, or burned to keep it from the enemy. Many of the local people were killed, raped, beaten, pressed into the army, or sold into slavery. All that was left when the army left were the old, the sick, and the starving. Those lucky enough to have escaped and hidden came back to a desolate land that could no longer support them.

This wasting of people, property, and land was portrayed in the first scenes of the book and the movie. Vogel, the main character, convinces the captain to exploit the village in an orderly way. His next challenge is to convince Gruber,the village headman, to cooperate.

Everyone enjoys a respite from the war. They have to face the reality of war in spring. Gruber seems to be the victor. Thereis no definite happy ending.

Like the Viet Nam War, the 30 years war was meant to be over in months. Then countries outside of Germany got involved and kept it going.
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