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Download Love and War In the Apennines (Picador Books) epub

by Eric Newby

Eric Newby escapes through a hospital window to become a POW on the run in Italy in 1943. With the Nazis moving in from the North and no certain way back to England, his situation appears grim. But with the help of local farmers and villagers, who risk their lives to shelter him, he survives. Hiding in shepherds' buts and even a cave, he achieves three precious months of freedom - and meets the determined and courageous young woman who would become his wife. "Love and War in the Apennines" in an intimate account of the horror and surrealism of war, and of the heroism and selflessness of those caught up in its madness. Eric Newby creates an unforgettable record of the resilience of human nature in the face of despair, and forcefully reminds us of the pointlessness of war.
Download Love and War In the Apennines (Picador Books) epub
ISBN: 0330280244
ISBN13: 978-0330280242
Category: Reference
Subcategory: Writing Research & Publishing Guides
Author: Eric Newby
Language: English
Publisher: Pan Books Ltd (May 10, 1996)
Pages: 224 pages
ePUB size: 1979 kb
FB2 size: 1795 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 575
Other Formats: txt lrf lit lrf

Newby applies his usual deft touch to recount his largely involuntary travel throughout northern Italy while held as a POW, and subsequently on the run, throughout late 1943. The Newby talent for observing places and mannerisms, and the heartfelt manner in which he illustrates the essential decency of those Italians he encounters en route (including his helpers, those too afraid or indifferent to assist him, and even his original captors) make this a book well worth reading, and three aspects of the book in particular gave me food for thought.

The first chapter recounts Newby's capture during an ill-fated mission to sabotage a German airfield on Sicily. While the author downplays his role for comic effect, it is clear that not only was there little prospect of returning home safely, poor planning and inadequate resources (other than a reliance on the bravery and initiative of those involved) ensured the mission had almost no chance of success. How many other young men were asked to throw away their lives for objectives that may have been important but clearly unattainable?

Newby's description of life in the POW camp and the emergence of an informal elite (which he terms the 'OK people') based largely on social status - and definitely not on military rank or prowess - is a fascinating pen portrait and reminiscent of my own experience in an officer training institution and as a junior officer (like Newby, I was occasionally entertaining to my own 'OK set' at best and definitely not of them!).

'Ho paura' (I have fear) is a phrase Newby gets to hear a great deal - and with good reason. It is a marvel that people with no hope of monetary reward or protection from brutal reprisal were willing to run such enormous risks on behalf of Newby and so many others like him. The author certainly wrestled with the question - equally valid today - of how much cooperation a soldier can reasonably expect from a civilian population he is unable (or unwilling) to protect from violence.

Fans of Newby's will delight in the usual wit and acute eye of his work, and in this case may - as I did - find something further to think about than his usual amusing and diverting travelogue.
What's amazing about Eric Newby is the fact that he considered himself the lesser known author of that name. There was an older English author by the same name who was considered more famous in England. And indeed judging by this Eric Newby's adventures you could say success was in the eye of the beholder. But now all American knowledge of the author by that name is this very humble Eric Newby, and better off we are for it.

With this particular tale it's one of beating extreme odds. He defies capture so many times in so many ways and literally like a storybook again in the end (no spoilers). A movie script couldn't do this tale justice; CBS tried to make a TV movie out of it but it wasn't nearly so powerful as this story. Reading this story will make you understand why Eric Newby never cared whether he succeeded in making the goals of his adventures afterward, because his life was already the adventure. No doubt he learned this along with the self-perseverance in this tale. By the time he sets out from the British sub it becomes a mission impossible he dubs "operation whynot" ostensibly to attack the Nazi airfield on the island of Sicily nearly single-handedly. From the beginning this book will capture you as he is captured.

The love of his life he gains in this story is the ultimate time he truly beats the odds though. Wanda Newby herself is an amazing woman and the fact that she stuck with him until he passed away in 2006 is incredible given the misadventures that followed in tales like Slowly Down the Ganges.

Eric Newby to me is the real life Tom Bombadil of JRR Tolkien's LOTR; down to the very canyon he hikes crawls and falls down into the gorgeous river valley and the old man he meets there with a skeleton key to his house the size of a castle lock which he forged himself. Eric Newby found meaning in life most of us cannot fathom. At least read this book and you will have catch a glimpse. Read on to his other books if you want the true dharma in the Eric Newby collection.
The late Eric Newby's memoir of his travails as a prionser-of-war escapee in World War II Italy, "Love and War in the Apennines," has been touted both as a true love story and a dramatic real-life war adventure. (It was even made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie in 2001 titled "In Love and War.") But while acknowledging both those lures, I was seduced most by the vivid image it paints of impoverished rural Italy some 70 years past, illuminating how much day-to-day life in Europe and the western world has changed since that time.

On the lam in 1943, running from both the Nazis and local Facisti still in charge after Mussolini's downfall, Newby is aided by scores of Italian civilians tired of war and Germans, risking their lives on his behalf. Among them, pivotally, is the beautiful Slovene exile Wanda, Newby's destined life partner.

While the love story and the war story are both threaded throughout the book weaving it together, the fabric consists of the bravery, cunning and generosity of the people who housed, hid and fed him, at great personal risk: execution by the Germans for harboring an escaped POW. Enfolded within that fabric is Newby's recounting of their simple lives: the meagre food they grew and ate, the wine and grappa they produced and drank, the threadbare clothes they wore, their rustic homes and beds, their animals, entertainments, superstitions and beliefs. Lives whose substance had not much changed over centuries, but now unrecognizable from an early 21st century perspective.

It reminded me how much our post-war Western lives have changed--for the better, in most regards, I'd say, though one could argue as to the quality of changes that have separated so many of us from the land, tradition and self-reliance. But in the war-weary Italy of 1943, rural life was grim and brutal: food scarce, labor unrelieved, fear rampant. Those "good old days" seem indeed old but hardly good.