9780307388582

Peace

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780307388582

  • ISBN10:

    0307388581

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-04-07
  • Publisher: Vintage

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Summary

Italy, near Cassino, in the terrible winter of 1944. An icy rain, continuing unabated for days. Guided by a seventy-year-old Italian man in rope-soled shoes, three American soldiers are sent on a reconnaissance mission up the side of a steep hill that they discover, before very long, to be a mountain. As they climb, the old man's indeterminate loyalties only add to the terror and confusion that engulf them.Peaceis a feat of storytelling from one of America's most acclaimed novelists: a powerful look at the corrosiveness of violence, the human cost of war, and the redemptive power of mercy.

Author Biography

This is Richard Bausch's eleventh novel. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Playboy, GQ, Harper's Magazine, and other publications and has been featured in numerous best-of collections, including The O. Henry Awards' Best American Short Stories, and New Stories from the South. He is chancellor of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where he is Moss Chair of Excellence in the Writer's Workshop of the University of Memphis.

Excerpts

Chapter One:

They went on anyway, putting one foot in front of the other, holding their carbines barrel down to keep the water out, trying, in their misery and confusion--and their exhaustion--to remain watchful. This was the fourth straight day of rain--a windless, freezing downpour without any slight variation of itself. Rivulets of ice formed in the muck of the road and made the walking treacherous. The muscles of their legs burned and shuddered, and none of them could get enough air. Robert Marson thought about how they were all witnesses. And nobody could look anybody in the eye. They kept on, and were punished as they went. Ice glazed their helmets, stuck to the collars of their field jackets, and the rain got in everywhere, soaking them to the bone. They were somewhere near Cassino, but it was hard to believe it was even Italy anymore. They had stumbled blind into some province of drenching cold, a berg of death. Everything was in question now.

The Italians were done, and the Germans were retreating, engaging in delaying actions, giving way slowly, skirmishing, seeking to make every inch of ground costly in time and in blood, and there were reconnaissance patrols all along the front, pushing north, heading into the uncertainty of where the Germans might be running, or waiting.

Marson, sick to his soul, barely matched the pace of the two men just in front of him, who were new. Their names were Lockhart and McCaig, and they themselves were lagging behind four others: Troutman, Asch, Joyner, and Sergeant Glick. Seven men. Six witnesses.

The orders had been to keep going until you found the enemy. Then you were supposed to make your way back, preferably without having been seen. But the enemy had the same kinds of patrols, and so recon also meant going forward until you were fired upon. Worse, this was a foot patrol. If you ran into anything serious, there wouldn't be any jeeps to ride out, nor tanks to help you. You were alone in the waste of the war.

And there were only the seven of them now.



Twelve men had left one tank battalion the first day, crossed country, and then slept under the tanks of another on the second, all in the changeless fall of the rain. McConnell, Padruc, and Bailey came down with the dysentery and had to be taken back to Naples. So the patrol left that camp with nine men.

Walberg and Hopewell were killed yesterday.

Yesterday, a farmer's cart full of wet straw had come straggling along the road being pulled by a donkey and driven by two Italian boys--gypsies, really--who looked like sopping girls, their long, black, soaked hair framing their faces, their wet cloaks hiding their bodies. Sergeant Glick waved them away, and they melted into the glazed second growth beside the road. Then he ordered that the cart be overturned in order to look for weapons or contraband. Troutman and Asch accomplished this, and as the waterlogged, mud-darkened straw collapsed from the bed of the cart, a Kraut officer and a whore tumbled out, cursing. The Kraut shot Walberg and Hopewell with his black Luger before Corporal Marson put him down. The whore, soggy and dirty and ill looking, wearing another officer's tunic over a brown skirt, spoke only German, and she shouted more curses at them, gesticulating and trying to hit at McCaig and Joyner, who held her. Sergeant Glick looked at Hopewell and Walberg, ascertained that they were dead, then walked over, put the end of his carbine at her forehead, and fired. The shot stopped the sound of her. She fell back into the tall wet stalks of grass by the side of the road, so that only her lower legs and her feet showed. She went over backward; the legs came up and then dropped with a thud into the sudden silence. Marson, who had been looking at the Kraut he shot, heard the fourth shot and turned to see this. And he saw the curve of her calves, the feet in a man's boots where they jutted from the grass. For a few second

Excerpted from Peace by Richard Bausch
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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