Naples ’44 by Norman Lewis, 1978

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A true account of a British intelligence officer who arrives in Italy as the Second World War draws to a close.  Italy has surrendered, but some German soldiers remain and are being pushed northward.

Lewis’s account isn’t focused on the final fight against the Germans, but on the Italians who remain in a badly damaged and largely non-functional society.  Allied bombings have destroyed many towns, agriculture has ceased, the economy has collapsed; corruption, organized crime, black markets, and prostitution spread.

Lewis’s own mission in Italy, as well as the primary purpose of the Allied Forces, remains cloudy.  He’s assigned to investigate people clipping telephone wires for the copper they contain, to cultivate informants with knowledge of various political factions, and to even investigate the validity of marriages between soldiers and native Italian women.

As time passes he grows to adore Italian culture, to respect the resourcefulness of the people surviving in a disaster area, and to see the absurdity of the occupation.  Although there are many horrible occurrences and human callousness expected in war, there are many redeeming human qualities on display as well.

Recommend to Others: ?

Reread Personally: no

 

 

 

 

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