A Soldier of the Great War

A Soldier of the Great War

4.35 (5,580 ratings by Goodreads)
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From acclaimed novelist Mark Helprin, a lush, literary epic about love, beauty, and the world at war

Alessandro Giuliani, the young son of a prosperous Roman lawyer, enjoys an idyllic life full of privilege: he races horses across the country to the sea, he climbs mountains in the Alps, and, while a student of painting at the ancient university in Bologna, he falls in love. Then the Great War intervenes. Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, tall and proud, meets an illiterate young factory worker on the road. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers away, the old man--a soldier and a hero who became a prisoner and then a deserter, wandering in the hell that claimed Europe--tells him how he tragically lost one family and gained another. The boy, envying the richness and drama of Alessandro's experiences, realizes that this magnificent tale is not merely a story: it's a recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 860 pages
  • 132.1 x 203.2 x 40.6mm | 907.2g
  • United States
  • English
  • Reissue
  • 0156031132
  • 9780156031134
  • 83,970

Back cover copy

"Fit to stand alongside the works of Erich Maria Remarque, and, yes, Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms . . . . Helprin has written a monumental novel." - Front Page, The Washington Post Book Review
For Alessandro Giuliani, the son of a prosperous Roman lawyer, trees shimmer in the sun beneath a sky of perfect blue, and at night the moon is amber as Rome seethes with light. He races horses across country to the sea, climbs in the Alps, and is a student of painting and aesthetics. And he falls in love, deeply and eternally. Then the Great War intervenes. Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, finds himself unexpectedly on the road with an illiterate young factory worker. During a walk over days and nights, the old man tells the story of his life. How he was a soldier, a hero, a prisoner, and a deserter. And how he tragically lost one family, but gained another. Dazzled by the action and envious of the richness and color of the story, the boy realizes that the old man's magnificent tale of love and war is more than just a tale: it is the recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.
"With riotous energy and sustained brilliance . . . Helprin lights his own way, in his own singular direction." - Time
"Tolstoy . . . Stephen Crane . . . Stendhal . . . Now - daringly, dazzlingly - Mark Helprin stakes his claim to membership in these latter ranks . . . . He succeeds triumphantly." - The Chicago Tribune
A New York Times Bestseller
Educated at Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford, Mark Helprin served in the Israeli army, Israeli Air Force, and British Merchant Navy. He is the author of, among other titles, Refiner's Fire, Ellis Island and Other Stories, Winter's Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, Memoir from Antproof Case, The Pacific and Other Stories, and Freddy and Fredericka.
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Rating details

5,580 ratings
4.35 out of 5 stars
5 56% (3,129)
4 29% (1,610)
3 10% (583)
2 3% (184)
1 1% (74)

Our customer reviews

This is a novel of the "White War" - a little known part of WWI history fought in the Italian/Austrian alps. For more see: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141017-white-war-first-world-war-italy-austro-hungarian-mountains-history/ https://www.facebook.com/citadeloficeshow more
by Laurence May
Never was I MORE RELIEVED to be done with reading a book as I was with this one. This tale, in which Alessandro Giuliani, an aging First World War veteran in his dotage, speaks about his life to a young lad (Nicolo) in his late teens while the 2 make their way on foot from the countryside to Rome during August 1964, is ponderous and tiresome. Alessandro, who grew up and lived a life of ease and comfort up til the First World War, loves to pontificate on just about any subject. In this respect, he comes across as very annoying and pompous. The prose also had a tendency to be clunky and superfluous. This novel I had had in a closet for almost a decade. But it was only a few weeks ago that I felt compelled to read it because it touched on the First World War (a subject I am more eager to learn about) and it had been a New York Times Bestseller. So, the more I read this novel, the more I found myself fighting it, hoping that I would find a more engaging tale. Alas, it was not to be. To quote the character McBain from "The Simpsons": 'BYE, BOOK!' Begone! To the local library this book goes.show more
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