Friday, March 15, 2013

A Bell for Adano (Pulitzer Winning Novel)

A Bell. A Major. Mule Carts. A Town. Americans. Fishing. Fascists. Wine.
I want you to be happy together. I want all of you to have as much as you can of what you want, without hurting anyone else. That is what I want for Adano. 
The Pulitzer Prize winning novel for 1945, A Bell for Adano by John Hersey, is a relatively unsophisticated story that speaks of human nature. It is both humorous and touching. It was made into a movie in 1945.

Briefly, Major Victor Joppolo, a former sanitation worker, is named senior civil affairs officer of Adano. He is the face of the Americans, who now have control of the town. He is a good man, who deep down just wants to be liked. At the beginning of the story, he asks various people what the town most needs. Repeated they say that it needs a new bell to replace the century old one that was taken by the Fascists. The bell represents the spirit of the town. Over time, despite resistance from others in the American military, he is able to win the hearts and minds of the people of Adano. He helps the town to get back on its feet and regain its spirit.

A Bell for Adano is an enjoyable little book. It was easy and fun to read. I do find it interesting that Hersey paints a relatively humorous and not so complementary picture of the US military so close to the time of WWII. The book could not have been without some controversy. I enjoyed the book enough to want to see the movie.

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