Last spring I discovered a fantastic weekly podcast called Books on the Nightstand. Two colleagues at Random House, Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman, talked all things books and gave really great book recommendations. I loved it. Then, to my dismay, they decided to end their podcast last summer. I soon realized, though, that I could access all previous episodes through their website (and they go all the way back to 2007!), I started listening from the beginning and I’m enjoying all the episodes very much. My to-read list has grown impossibly long, but I love all the book recommendations! Ann recommended Peace by Richard Bausch in one of the early episodes and I thought I’d check it out. I had never heard of Richard Bausch before listening to Ann rave about this book.
I read this gripping story in a couple of hours. It takes place in Italy in 1944. It’s been raining for many days when 3 American soldiers are sent on a reconnaissance mission up a mountain with a seventy year old Italian man who wears rope-soled shoes. When they begin their climb they think it’s only a hill. However, they soon realize it’s a huge mountain. It’s cold, icy and then snowy. As the Italian man guides them up the mountain, they begin to wonder where his loyalties lie. Is he an Italian Fascist leading them into a trap or just an old man doing what they want him to do to survive?
Bausch’s writing is amazing. The book is so short, but I think it’s one of the most intense stories I’ve ever read. I felt the soldiers’ fear, their confusion, their pain and their humanity. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this story. Richard Bausch has written a number of other books that I’d like to read. If you’re interested in learning more about this author, you can find his website here. Happy reading!