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A Bell for Adano by John Hersey

Reviewed by ExperiencePlus! Customer Bill Giovanazzo

Italy, Italia, is unique in the world. From the voluptuous bosom of the Tuscan hills to the A Bell for Adano by John Hersey. Image courtesy of Amazon.comfishing towns on Apulia’s Adriatic coast, the culture of this ancient land, of these loving people, affirms the value of life’s most basic necessities; good food, good wine, and good friends. It is into this world that Major Victor Joppolo, an Italian America, came as part of the Allied force that occupied Sicily after World War II.

A Bell for Adano tells the story of how Major Joppolo reaches across the cultural divide winning the love of this Sicilian town by searching for a replacement for the 700-year-old town bell that had been melted down for bullets. While the book is a very easy read, it is extraordinarily well written, earning the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.   Some say that the book’s rich characterizations and lessons in leadership account for its fame. Others claim that it shows the American Military in a positive light and depicts Democracy as superior to fascism. These things may be true, I have certainly recommended it as a case study of good management, but let me tell you why I genuinely love this book.

Imagine for a moment sitting in a piazza of some small Italian town. Imagine yourself enjoying a gelato or sipping a spritz (look it up – you need to try this).  Then you hear the town bell peal out the hour; the bell whose voice is so much a part of the spirit of an Italian town. If you have ever been to Italy, this book will tug at your heart strings creating a longing to return. If you are planning a trip to Italy, this book will drive you to your calendar to count down the days to departure. If you are unsure about a trip to Italy, this book will convince you that there is no other land or people whose charm can so revitalize one’s outlook on life.

Read more about the reviewer Bill Giovinazzo and ExperiencePlus! cycling tours in Sicily