Saturday, February 23, 2019


Last year I read (listened to) about a 175 books. Most of these were recent publications, but some were short pieces I like because of the unusual character or story concept like Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Homer Hears a Who. Others are those stories with surprising twists for endings like An Occurrence at Owl’s Creek Bridge and The Lady or the Tiger. 

On occasion I re-read a book the way one repeatedly listens to a favorite piece of music. For example, over the years I have read Thomas Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers, almost 1500 pages, (66 hours), three times. 

During the past year, there were some recently published books that I thoroughly enjoyed. Among them are novels, two memoirs, and a biography. All are best sellers. One is Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan, a novel based upon a true story. In my opinion, this book is every bit as good as Where the Crawdads Sing. 

Pino Lella is a normal teenager in Nazi-occupied Italy primarily involved with food, music and girls. After his home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad to help Jews escape over the Alps. He falls in love with Anna, six years his senior.  In a move to keep him out of combat, Pino’s parents force him to enlist in the German army, where he is injured. To his surprise, he is selected to be the driver for General Hans Leyers, one of Hitler’s most powerful commanders. Pino is now able to spy for the Allies risking his life for Anna and what he hopes will be their life together. 

This gripping tale describes how a young Italian adolescent is transformed into a dedicated fighter for the Allies, enduring the horrors of war and risking his life at every turn. Mark Sullivan’s writing makes this book standout from thousands of war stories. It is a story of heroism, compassion, love, and terror. 

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Beneath a Scarlet Sky to a reader or a book group. More in months to come.

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