A Bell for Adano by John Hersey3.5 stars rounded up.
It’s 1943 and Victor Joppolo, an American Major, is assigned to oversee the town of Adano in occupied Italy. Joppolo passionately believes in the American system, and through his idealism—which reminded me a little bit of the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—he accomplishes great things for the town.
Ironically, the novel’s antagonist is also its force of good: the American military. While trying to deal with an irrational and ridiculous order, Joppolo gets on the wrong side of a tyrannical general. This enmity provides much of the book’s suspense since we know, from the very first page, that things are not going to end well. Its amusing to see how the militarys extreme bureaucracy and pettiness actually shields for Joppolo for awhile, but ultimately nothing can protect him.
A Bell for Adano is a corny novel steeped in stereotypes, both on the Italian and American side. It also suffers from a dated kind of sentimentality. Yet it’s powerful. This is a book that celebrates the big words: Fairness, Integrity, Idealism, Hard Work, Honesty, and Justice. The writing is clear, evocative, and ultimately very kind.
Episode 155- "A Bell for Adano" by John Hersey
Victor Joppolo, an American army officer of Italian descent, is part of the Allied military government ruling the town of Adano. In his attempts to reform the town and bring democracy to the people by treating them with respect and decency, Joppolo comes into conflict with his commanding officer, a hard-nosed general who eventually has Joppolo transferred because of his refusal to follow orders.
A year before that remarkable piece of non-fiction, first-person journalism, however, Hersey won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his satirical war novel A Bell for Adano , a spiritual precursor to Catch , one that allows the absurdity of military life and bureaucracy to satirize itself while also humanizing the American occupation of Italy through one character, Major Joppolo, who becomes the wartime mayor of the Italian town of Adano. Adano has lost much in the war; the people are starving and thirsty, and the ousted Fascist mayor was a corrupt coward. Patton, is a single-minded tyrant. The return of Mayor Nasta and his subsequent arrest are almost slapstick comic moments. Some parts of the book were just laugh-out-loud funny, and most of it was smile-inducing, other than the occasional intervention of the details of the war, or the strongly sentimental notions connecting Joppolo and the citizens of Adano. Next up: Philip K.
It tells the story of an Italian-American officer in Sicily during World War II who wins the respect and admiration of the people of the town of Adano by helping them find a replacement for the town bell that the Fascists had melted down for rifle barrels. The novel is set during the Allied occupation of the fictional Italian coastal town of Adano based on the real city of Licata. The main character, Major Victor Joppolo, is the temporary administrator of the town during the occupation and is often referred to by the people of Adano as Mister Major. Joppolo is an idealistic Italian-American who wants to bring justice and compassion to Adano, which has been hardened by the authoritarian Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. When Major Joppolo arrives at Adano, he immediately asks the people of the town what they need the most. The first spokesman of the town tells Joppolo that they are in great need of food for some people have not eaten in days. The second spokesman of the town argues that the town's immediate necessity is a new bell.