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War in Val D'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944 Paperback – 4 Aug 2000


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War in Val D'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944 + Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val D'Orcia + The Merchant of Prato: Francesco Di Marco Datini: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Allison & Busby; New edition edition (4 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749004231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749004231
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

It is hard to belive that the popular Italian region of Tuscany, or Chiantishire as it is known these days, was, just 40 years ago, a no-man's land fought over by conflicting armies and ideologies. But British-born writer and wife of an Italian Marchese Iris Origo kept a diary during the Second World War, and has left behind her a compelling account of those turbulent times. Even while German troops were occupying her house, she wrote at night about her valiant attempts to shelter refugee children, burying her diary in the garden each morning. What makes this elegantly written testament so enduringly powerful is Origo's bravery in secretly taking in escaped Allied soldiers, and her modesty--she was too "busy" to be afraid. She also reveals a clear-sighted understanding of the peasants' desperate situation: "Profoundly disillusioned, cynical, tired, fully conscious that more suffering and privations still lie ahead, they are a defeated nation--and the only universal incentive still left is that of self-preservation." Origo is the exception--fearlessly involved in distributing illicit aid, she ran the gamut of German bullets. Essentially, though, hers was a personal war--that of compassion and humanity against politically motivated invaders. -- Lilian Pizzichini

Review

'It is jolting to recall, through Origo's sober and self-effacing prose, the atrocious conditions of the summer of 1944, as the Allies fought their way painfully up the peninsula from the beachhead of Anzio.' Financial Times

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Montigiani Mario VINE VOICE on 22 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
A beautiful heartfelt account of two years of war in my native Tuscany: 1943 and 1944, a page of history probably unknown outside Italy.

A crazy dance of events, a dance macabre, I would define it.

A daily war diary written by Marchesa Iris Origo, an English- American lady married to an Italian and living near Siena.

Marchesa Origo gives us an account of facts which happened in Val d'Orcia and were directly or indirectly related to her and her family.

Hardships and tragedies suffered by Italian civilians by the hands of a bloodthirsty German army whose only aim seemed to be the slaughter of harmeless people and a more than crazy fascist horde the "repubblichini"; all together they succeded in murdering hundreds of Italian civilians and foreign "allies" mostly Americans.

The bombing of Italian cities like Rome, Florence, Naples by the hands of allied armies trying to destroy the German headquarters. This is all told in the book.

Marchesa Origo sheltered in her "Villa" and in the adjoining farms all the Italian and foreign refugees who were able to escape the maddened German SS or the vile "repubblichini".

The courage of a woman who risked her life to protect children, women, old people and refugees of the allied armies from the fury of the enemy.

Stories told also by our parents or grandparents who happened to go through the crazy tragedy of world war II.

A beautiful read which I would recommend to everyone, in order not to forget.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 May 2000
Format: Paperback
Most people would tend to think of Italian history as a turbulent period between the fall of Rome and the demise of the Great City States of Florence, Genoa etc; including the Renaissance and the growth of Christianity. This diary of the events during WWII is extremely explicit and you realise that this was another turning point in their great history. This book is written in such a manner that once picked up its readable through to the end without wanting to put down. For those that have visited (or about to) Italy on holiday or business that go any where near the Umbria area of the Val D'Orcia will know that the landscape here hasn't changed in nearly 400 years. The same roads and woods that the German Army searched for partisans and escaped POWs are still there. Its such a beautiful area to move around in and to see the farms and villages that are central to this diary is like re-living the experience. I suggest you drive over from Sarteano and take the valley road up to Montepulciano and you can imagine the route the allied liberators took. Take this book with you, read it and visit the area-the two go hand in hand.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By randomreviewer on 13 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I will carry this book in my heart for a long time to come.

I read it in one long, riveting sitting. Origo is not sentimental - but her writing produced in me much profound sentiment.

There is remarkably little emotional commentary for such a time of war.

In it's place is an unfolding of the history of the Allied Front through the various sources available at the time, and how it relates to the story of a gentle family, who deal with testing circumstances in the most humble, generous, and unprovocative of ways.

It is truly a story of heroism at it's finest, not just from the Origo family, but from the contadini and partisans, the soldiers, the carabinieri, the prete - from many individuals faced with the desperate plight of other individuals.

It is an eye witness account, without romance or glorification, of a story of hope and bravery, kindness, and all things that make humanity good.

Having lived in Italy for many years, I find this book has explained more about the Italian psychology today than any other I have read.

It is a testament to mankind, and explains what we, as individuals, might be capable of in an intensely distressing situation - both good and bad.

Any person who has ever been to Montepulciano, the Val D'Orcia, or to Tuscany, even, or anyone who loves Italy in the way so many of us do, should read this book and remember.

I will carry this book with me in my heart for a long time to come.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Researcher on 27 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The main point of interest for me in this book is its coverage of the state of affairs in Northern Italy towards the end of World War 2. The German army had turned on their former allies, Italy, and battles raged in the area covered by this book. The author was there in the middle of it, and wrote about it shortly afterwards, so the suffering of the Italian peasants trying to get on with subsistence farming and too busy to involve themselves much as warriors, targeted for no good reason by the German army, and the work of the Italian underground is described in detail. It is so easy to fail to note this part of the War, and this book should be part of the collection of anyone who keeps a library of the war as a record not to be found elsewhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jan Ericcson on 20 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
MASSIVELY RECOMMENDED! Why hasn't it been made into a film? This book is an amazing personal diary of the immediate experiences, trials and tribulations of a family trying to give help in Tuscany during 1944/45. The suffering and courage of individuals and the Italian people comes through time and time again. I had not realised the sheer awfulness of having to live through war facing three types of enemy (the Allies, the Germans and the Fascists), not to mention reprisals from well-intentioned partisans.
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