Mario Rigoni Stern was barely twenty-one - and already a battle veteran - at the time of the hallucinatory World War II disaster searchingly described in this book. In July 1942, the Italian forces in Russia totaled 230,000 men. They included three divisions of Alpini troops, specially trained for winter warfare; the author of this book belonged to one of these, the Tridentina. In December, the troops began retreating, entirely on foot, with no supplies, at a temperature of 30-40 degrees below zero. Many of the troops, overcome by exhaustion, broke away from the column; others were cut off and captured by the Russians, others lost in the steppes. In the end, about 90,000 were missing or dead, about 45,000 frostbitten and wounded. This narrative, together with his novel The Story of Tonle and several other works, paints a broad fresco of Italy's history in this century, chronicling social and political change so radical and profound that it has touched even those in such secluded provincial communities as that which Rigoni Stern has so masterfully described.
Literature-Fiction, British, Historical,