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Peace (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – April 7, 2009
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Starred Review. An abrupt and chilling act of violence opens Bauch's 11th novel, marking the beginning of a bleak but compelling meditation on the moral dimensions of warfare. Cpl. Robert Marson is trudging up an Italian hillside, leading two of his men on an uncertain mission through the unrelenting winter of 1944. The soldiers are haunted by the cold-blooded murder by their sergeant, Glick, of a woman on the Italian roadside, and highly suspicious of the Italian farmer they have enlisted to act as a guide in their scouting mission. Snipers loom along their path, and the immediate fear of death seeps into each tantalizing memory of home. Equivocation between the absurdity of an unreported murder and the inevitability of killing as a means of survival drives the troops' despairing, profanity-laced banter as the meaninglessness of their mission becomes clear. The peace of the title is glimpsed only fleetingly, throwing into relief the stark, indiscriminate nature of war. Bausch's compassion for Marson and his men is evident, but his story is unforgiving; the tightly paced final scenes offer no clarity of purpose in a dark war story of unyielding sorrow. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
What Mr. Bausch gives the reader in this short novel of 171 pages is a picture of every war. Some men do cowardly things while others, left to their own devices, show both individual and collective courage under the worst of conditions. Although these men are frightened and are young and far from home and family, they do what they have to do. Certain scenes from this novel reminded me of another fine novel about this era, Tony Earley's THE BLUE STAR and even Mary Tillman's sorrowful nonfiction book BOOTS ON THE GROUND BY DUSK.
Mr. Bausch's language is spare and completely appropriate for his bleak subject in this richly nuanced novel where the characters come alive on every page. His discription of Marson's leave-taking from his family, so powerful and beautifully written, touches a chord in all of us who have ever left the comfortable nest of home for whatever reason: "It came to him [Marson] that he had taken this scene, this street, these people, for granted, had simply accepted all of it, and them, as his world. He had a thought: this is the surround. Just the word, surround, in that sentence, seemed freighted with new meaning. It could not be spelled any other way, was not the word surroundings. It was a different word. It was his life itself, containing his home, these parked cars, this house, this sky. . . It caught his breath."
PEACE will speak to you on many levels. I have only read previously the novel VIOLENCE by this writer. I suspect that the loss is mine.