A Soldier of the Great War (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This novel shows us one of our most generous writers in top form. Helprin just gives you so much! The book is a tale of grim war, impossible loves, and, most of all, soul-stealing Beauty. It's a novel that will take over your life for a week or two and, if you're not careful, leave your expectations toward modern literature forever changed.

— From Adam

This is another one of my all-time faves. It is "a lush, literary epic about love, beauty, and the world at war". It tells the life story of Alessandro Giuliani before, during and after WW1. You might be daunted by its 800+ pages, but it's well worth the effort.Take a couple of days off and settle in while Alessandro tells you his story.

— From Henry


From acclaimed novelist Mark Helprin, a lush, literary epic about love, beauty, and the world at war

Alessandro Giuliani, the young son of a prosperous Roman lawyer, enjoys an idyllic life full of privilege: he races horses across the country to the sea, he climbs mountains in the Alps, and, while a student of painting at the ancient university in Bologna, he falls in love. Then the Great War intervenes. Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, tall and proud, meets an illiterate young factory worker on the road. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers away, the old man--a soldier and a hero who became a prisoner and then a deserter, wandering in the hell that claimed Europe--tells him how he tragically lost one family and gained another. The boy, envying the richness and drama of Alessandro's experiences, realizes that this magnificent tale is not merely a story: it's a recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780156031134
ISBN-10: 0156031132
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publication Date: June 1st, 2005
Pages: 860
Language: English