War in Val D'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944 Paperback – 4 Aug 2000
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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
'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 TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite enthralling, especially if you have a liking of Italy.
Also very informative of WW2 times for the day to day Italian peoples that were not fans of il duce!
If you don't know much about how the Second World War affected the Italians, both those who lived on the land and the aristocrats, then this is the diary to read. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mary Pearson
Very interesting . Had no clue as to what happened after Italy surrenderdPublished 17 months ago by henrietta beattie
The diary reflects a small area of the war in Italy's impact on the local population. It helped to have read 'Italy's Sorrow' by James Holland beforehand. Read morePublished 17 months ago by John Davies
A fascinating account of life in Italy during the Second World War. I couldn't put it down.Published 22 months ago by Mrs. Dm Ward