War in Val D'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944
A classic of World War II, here in its first American edition. War in Val d'Orcia is Iris Origo's elegantly simple chronicle of daily life at La Foce, a manor in a Tuscan no-man's land bracketed by foreign invasion and civil war.
With the immediacy only a diary can have, the book tells how the Marchesa Origo, an Anglo-American married to an Italian landowner, kept La Foce and its farms functioning while war threatened to overrun it and its people. She and her husband managed to protect their peasants, succor refugee children from Genoa and Turrin, hide escaped Allied prisoners of war-and somehow stand up to the Germans, who in dread due course occupied La Foce in 1944 and forced the Marchesa to retreat under a hot June sun.
Fleeing eight impossible miles on foot, along a mined road under shell fire, with sixty children in tow, she sheltered her flock in the dubious safety of a nearby village. A few days later, official Fascism disappeared, and La Foce was ransacked by the retreating Wehrmacht. Here, as the restoration of La Foce begins, her book ends.
Beyond praise and above mere documentary value, War in Val d'Orcia belongs to the literature of humanity.
War is Heaven and Hell
By Mary Knight - April 11, 2000
This is not a journal in the contemporary sense; the author isnot exploring her feelings or finding herself. This is an almostdaily record of how WWII affected a small farm in Tuscany, as theowner and tenant farmers watched and waited for the war to arrive at their doors. In the meantime, they coped and dealt with everyone else who arrived at their door--15 orphaned children, Fascist mayors, German troops, British prisoners of war, Italian partisans. All needed help and the Origo family gave what they could. German officers/soldiers were literally arriving at the front door while allied prisoners of war were escaping out the back, with food, blankets or boots. At all times, Iris Origo knew exactly where they were, where she was, what she had to do and what the consequenses were. In clear, direct, language, Origo makes the case that the people living in the hills of Tuscany were the true heroes who endured changing govenrments, axis and allied soldiers who looted and pillaged,... read more
By Montigiani Mario - September 1, 2001
a beautiful, heartfelt account of two years of war in my native Tuscany:1943-44, a page of history surely unknown outside Italy. A crazy dance of events, a dance macabre, I would define it. A daily war diary written by Marchesa Iris Origo,an English woman married to an Italian and living near Siena. Marchesa Origo gives us an account of facts which happened in Italy in those times and were directly or indirectly related to her and to her family. Tragedies and hardships suffered by Italian civilians by the hands of a bloodthirsty German army whose only aim seemed to be the slaughter of harmless people and a more than crazy fascist horde the "repubblichini"; all together they succeeded in destroying great part of Italy and in murdering hundreds of Italian civilians and foreign allies. The bombing of Italian towns like Rome, Florence, Naples by the hands of allied armies trying to destroy the German headquarters. Marchesa Origo sheltered in her... read more
By Philip Bewley - May 25, 2004
"Greater than the sum of its parts" accurately describes this remarkable diary set in Southern Tuscany during World War II.
Written as a daily record during the tumult of war,Origo does not dwell on emotional reactions to the horror around them. What comes through is the generosity, compassion, and nobility of Spirit that we all are capable of during wretched times. This diary has had a greater impact on me since after reading it.A book which had lingered with me and one in which I may never forget,I haved been moved to visit La Foce and the region in which this book takes place this Fall. Highly Recommended.
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