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How I Lost The War (B-Format Paperback) Paperback – 26 Sep 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press (26 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906548366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906548360
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,242,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Here is life, death, love and destiny, the transitory and the territory, the ancient community and the current destruction, exaltation and defeat, all of which is told with intensity, passion, irony (Alberto Asor Rosa La Repubblica)

A thought-provoking and beautiful book (Enrica Brocardo Vanity Fair)

A very intriguing novel: internal, poetic, anticonventional and, especially, told with an incredibly promising narrative ambition (Errico Buonanno Il Riformista)

Very funny ... Bologna draws a vivid ... picture of village life, with all its affections and petty competitiveness . . . a constantly surprising book (Independent)

Bologna manages to make you care, and with only a description of where a character stands or which direction they blew their cigarette smoke (California Literary Review)

About the Author

Filippo Bologna was born in Tuscany in 1978. He lives in Rome where he works as a writer and screenwriter. His novels The Parrots and How I Lost the War are also published by Pushkin Press.

Customer Reviews

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Federico is the last heir to the Cremona family line and lives with his relatives in the castle of a serene Tuscan village. He feels the pressures of past generations, including another Federico who died tragically young. Federico, his friends and girlfriend Lea come up with increasingly desperate measures to thwart the invasion of tycoon Ottone Gattai's ruthless (and effective) exploitation of the village hot spring waters. Soon, most of the villagers seem to be in Gattai's employ.

In short (sometimes very short) chapters Federico narrates aspects of his family history, interspersed with the unfolding contemporary situation. The tone of the narrative is urbane, fresh, sometimes sharp, often satirical, there are a few twists, and more than a little humour. For me, the story became more involving in the second half. This is not the the Tuscany of Chiantishire, but the sun is there beating down on the tussles between corporate greed, self-interested or naive response, mounting rebellion and also the on-goingness of ordinary village life. Local inhabitants and tourists could all end up pawns in Gattai's game. Can anything be done to prevent this? A good translation.
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Format: Paperback
A new novel from Pushkin Press is always welcome and How I Lost The War proved to be as expected, a witty but thought-provoking read with bags of Italian flavour to transport readers into fragrant Tuscan summers - but this is no rural idyll, for it is about to be transformed by powerful forces of commerce and development.

We find ourselves steeped in the life of a village, once renowned for its thermal baths, where Federico, the guardian of his family's castle, find themselves at the centre of a battle to resist a scheme of brutal modernisation. Ottone Gaddai, an all-for-profit businessman arrives with grandiose plans to revive the spar. Gaddai has no problem ingratiating himself with the local mayor for as everywhere, money talks, and Gaddai has plenty of it to fling around.

The first act of the new regime is to rejuvenate the village square, cutting down the ancient acacia trees and replacing them with flimsy limes. Ancient flag stones are taken away and in their place, machine cut aggregate slabs are laid. Workmen remove the old travertine benches, "masterfully handcut by local stone-cutters" and install instead modern wood and iron benches.

The story proceeds as we read of further conflicts between old and new, those who wish to preseve the great beauty of ancient villages and landscapes and those who wish to destroy it all in the interests of profit. The theme is serious but the way it is developed is satirical and very funny at times.

Despite the humour of the book, the reader gets the impression that the author, Filippo Bologna, is pretty passionate about the issues raised in it.
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Format: Paperback
A wonderful novel, beautifully written and translated, that paints a passionate picture of a hopeless personal cause launched by a flawed protagonist, against apparently insuperable 21st century powers - a very local plot highly symbolic of the modern world's profit-driven globalisation. The representatives of the old order are depicted as supine (or worse, cooperative) naifs, still with a tragic belief in honour, and in taking a person's word as their bond. The hero and his small band can see through the spin, but how can they muster the resources to fight back?

It's called "How I Lost The War". They can't. But the reasons why they can't are lyrically laid out, with some great jokes along the way. There are niggling questions that arise here and there, concerning how consistent the first-person narrative makes the protagonist sound at times. But overall a real pleasure to read, and a memorable, meaningful story that ought to inspire more protest against the way the world has gone in recent years [this review is being written in week 1 of what will hopefully be the protracted and painful death of News International as a global force for evil, a totally separate, though possibly fraternal, battle to the one depicted here in HILTW).
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