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Cover image for A soldier on the southern front : the classic Italian memoir of World War I
Format:
Title:
A soldier on the southern front : the classic Italian memoir of World War I
Uniform Title:
Anno sull'Altipiano. English
ISBN:
9780847842780
Publication:
New York, NY : Rizzoli Ex Libris, 2014.
Physical Description:
x, 278 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Un anno sull'altipiano.
Summary:
A rediscovered Italian masterpiece chronicling the author's experience as an infantryman, newly translated and reissued to commemorate the centennial of World War I. Taking its place alongside works by Ernst Junger, Robert Graves, and Erich Maria Remarque, Emilio Lussu's memoir is one of the most affecting accounts to come out of the First World War. A classic in Italy but virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, it reveals, in spare and detached prose, the almost farcical side of the war as seen by a Sardinian officer fighting the Austrian army on the Asiago plateau in northeastern Italy, the Alpine front so poignantly evoked by Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms. For Lussu, June 1916 to July 1917 was a year of continuous assaults on impregnable trenches, absurd missions concocted by commanders full of patriotic rhetoric and vanity but lacking in tactical skill, and episodes often tragic and sometimes grotesque, where the incompetence of his own side was as dangerous as the attacks waged by the enemy. A rare firsthand account of the Italian front, Lussu's memoir succeeds in staging a fierce indictment of the futility of war in a dry, often ironic style that sets his tale wholly apart from the Western Front of Remarque and adds an astonishingly modern voice to the literature of the Great War.
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940.4145 Lussu 2014
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On Order

Summary

Summary

A rediscovered Italian masterpiece chronicling the author's experience as an infantryman, newly translated and reissued to commemorate the centennial of World War I. Taking its place alongside works by Ernst JYnger, Robert Graves, and Erich Maria Remarque, Emilio Lussu's memoir is one of the most affecting accounts to come out of the First World War. A classic in Italy but virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, it reveals, in spare and detached prose, the almost farcical side of the war as seen by a Sardinian officer fighting the Austrian army on the Asiago plateau in northeastern Italy, the alpine front so poignantly evoked by Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms.

For Lussu, June 1916 to July 1917 was a year of continuous assaults on impregnable trenches, absurd missions concocted by commanders full of patriotic rhetoric and vanity but lacking in tactical skill, and episodes often tragic and sometimes grotesque, where the incompetence of his own side was as dangerous as the attacks waged by the enemy. A rare firsthand account of the Italian front, Lussu's memoir succeeds in staging a fierce indictment of the futility of war in a dry, often ironic style that sets his tale wholly apart from the Western Front of Remarque and adds an astonishingly modern voice to the literature of the Great War.


Author Notes

Emilio Lussu (1890-1975) served as an infantry officer in WWI and was decorated several times for valor. A fervent antifascist, he spent much of the 1920s in exile in France, fought in Spain against Franco, and returned to Italy in 1943 to join the resistance. Mark Thompson is an award-winning British historian. He is the author, most recently, of The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front , 1915-1919.


Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

The recovered memoir of a brave Italian soldier in World War I. A lieutenant in the Sassari brigade of the Italian infantry, Lussu (18901975) waited 20 years to publish his memories of World War I in the Asiago Plateau, fighting the Austrian offensive. It is a story of trench warfare in 1916, but more importantly, it is the story of the men who fought and their derision of their commanding officers. They felt the enemy was not the Austrians but rather the men behind them giving orders that could only get them killed. The author's memory is vivid, and the characters demand it. He writes of a general who demanded a different kind of definition of victorynot, "do you have enough supplies?" but a philosophical discussion. Gen. Leone, a pure wacko, demanded men wear body armor he had specially brought. Of course, when he sent them into battle, the armor was absolutely worthless. Another officer couldn't understand why Lussu didn't drink, something everyone in that army didall day long and especially before a battle. The author writes about a war of maneuver to save lives rather than a war of position that would cost them. Regardless, the fact that they succeeded to take Monte Fior only to abandon it left them mostly in the same position throughout the conflict. These men were surely cannon fodder, and a short mutiny was the precursor to a much more serious revolt. One company abandoned their position in a cave that threatened to collapse, and their leader ordered the execution of every 10th man. Lussu's philosophy of war was born in the days he lived through and wrote about. Like so many soldiers, he was against it, and most readers will be persuaded to agree with him.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Like Ernest Hemingway, Emilio Lussu (1890-1975) served at the Asiago plateau in Northern Italy. Lussu's plainly written account of the time is a classic in his native country but not well known in the English-speaking world. A 1937 note from the author explains that his book has no thesis except to describe what he saw; that is enough, however, to create a compelling read that enters the mind of a man at the front, exposed daily to terrible scenes and decisions that change who he is. At times Lusso's air of detachment is chilling; in other situations, in humanizing his enemies he is himself humanized. Historical details abound and will be gratifying to readers who want to discover more about the war in Italy; memoir enthusiasts, however, are another target for readers' advisory involving this title. VERDICT A valuable complement to Hemingway's works, this book can also stand on its own as a historical memoir written in a memorable voice.-HV (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.