Miracle at St. Anna
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Miracle at St. Anna

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,648 ratings  ·  257 reviews
James McBride's powerful memoir, The Color of Water, was a publishing phenomenon, spending more than two years on the New York Times bestsellers list and becoming required reading in high schools and colleges across the country. Now, in his long-awaited second book, McBride turns his highly acclaimed talent as a storyteller to fiction.

Based on the historical incident of...more
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published January 28th 2002 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rowena
I enjoyed this story about a troop of African-American soldiers fighting for the States in Italy. McBride is a very talented writer. I think he told the story very well; he captured the Italian mentality, especially towards superstition and how they viewed people different from themselves (in those days, anyway, the grotesqueness of war).

The "funny" thing about the African-American soldiers was that they were freer in Italy than they were in their own country. For me, that fact posed a few quest...more
alex
This took me a long time to get through, because it's a heavy plot. Four black American soldiers are lost in the mountains of Italy after a terrible battle, trying to figure out who among the Italian peasants and freedom fighters they can trust, and not trusting each other or their white commanders. They've also picked up a young Italian boy who's half crazy from the atrocities he's witnessed, and who becomes the center of their world. This is beautifully written, and although the male character...more
Brian DiMattia
I'm torn on what to rate this book. I was sure it was a five most of the way through, but then had a major gripe with the ending. If ever there was a "4 1/2" star book it would be this.

A wonderful book that hooked me from the first chapter. The preview chapter was so intriguing that I didn't want to read the rest...I HAD to read the rest. And the rest didn't disappoint. The plot, four minority soldiers find an emotionally damaged boy behind German lines in WWII Italy and end up in a purgatory of...more
Rhonda
We read this in our church group, mostly because everyone got to suggest a book and three of the men are WWII veterans, God bless them. The man who suggested this book fought in this particular area and he heard it was an accurate depiction of the terrain.
One hears little about this part of te war where the germans fortified positions telling their soldiers to fight to the death. Having seen part of this terrain, it is amazing that anyone made it more than 100 yard without dying.
This story is ab...more
Tamela Quijas
Absolutely wonderful tale. Whether or not you are old enough to recall segregation in the military, or have family members that do, this book is a spellbinding read.

My son took me to see the movie and I had to read it afterwards. I wasn't disappointed.
Matty
Prior to getting into this novel, I had heard mixed emotions about the movie (which I have never seen) based upon James McBride's "Miracle at St. Anna" and directed by Spike Lee. Yet, one thing I've learned is that the book is almost always better than the movie.

"Miracle at St. Anna" was never on my list of books to read, but a friend of mine had come for a visit and while she was here, she had finished this novel and decided to leave it for me (I'm not one to turn down a free book). In the end,...more
Empress5150
2007 must have been the year of reading books by authors who had written other books that I much preferred to the current one I was reading! Case in point with “Miracle at Santa Anna”. Ok, it wasn’t stinko awful, but it in no way can compare with McBride’s perfectly wonderful (autobiographical) “The Color of Water”. “Miracle” is a tale of black soldiers fighting in Italy during WWII. They stumble across a young orphan Italian boy and a group of Italian villagers and the head of a very famous sta...more
danielle
Ok, maybe I'm too jaded, but I was really thrown by the whole "magical Negro" theme in this book. (I mean, there's also a "magical Italian boy" theme. . .but still). I think McBride is half African American, but does that really complicate things? I'm not sure. In any case, linguistically speaking, I hated how the translated Italian did not have the syntax or flow of real Italian. That might sound nitpickily pretentious, but I love how in Julia Alvarez, even when her characters are written as sp...more
Miles
This is a deeply well written book. Black American soldiers lost behind the lines in mountain-top Italian towns, late in the Second World War, wrestle with what and who they are fighting for (America? the White man? each other? Italian villagers? self-respect? or?) McBride plays with the improbable events that may or may not be miraculous - a touch of magical realism, or perhaps simply a way of conveying the subjective experience of his characters - but mostly he keeps it real. He paints what fe...more
Elizabeth
I bought this book months ago, but kept passing it over for other supposedly 'more interesting' reading - so was caught off guard as I began reading it and became engrossed in this story of the black soldiers (Buffalo Soldier) of WWII. The setting is the Italian countryside with the final German stand before the end of the war. The story revolves around 4 American soldiers, the young Italian boy they rescued who needs medical attention, and the Italian people they met in the village below the St...more
Monica
I loved this book. Loved the way it was written, the story it told, the poetry that moved within the sentences.

Set in Italy, towards the end of World War II...the lives of four men are changed forever. The simplicity of the Chocolate Giant as he lets love take over, the avoidance techniques of Bishop as he hides from what he's really hiding from, the strength of Hector who just wants to do what's right, and the leadership supplied by Stamps, who just wants it all to end. Mix up these four men in...more
Cheryl
Reviews of this book were so wildly contradictory - and the movie reviews were similarly so - that I didn't know if this was worth the read. For me in the end, it was. It was honest in its portrayal of just how brutal war can be, not only to soldiers but to hundreds of innocent civilians. It was also honest in its portrayal of the second class citizenship held by African American soldiers even while fighting for their country in WWII. Was it uplifting? At times, yes. Was it sad? Yes. But all in...more
J8675309
I've learned that an author must be of a hearty constitution to pick up the pen again after writing such a book as "The Color of Water."

I was drawn into reading this book by my love of his earlier work and by a crafty first paragraph. I'm no stranger to the war story or even epic, but I'm stalled out in the first 100 pages.

In a sad act of desperation, I watched the movie. I thought it might spur me on, so far, I remain uninspired. I am sad.
Sequoia
James McBrides memoir is a prime example how the well too deleted stories of the African-American experience can be shown without feeling beaten down with a stick. The powerful symbolism of the sculptured head was incredibly significant in the story. Unfortunately, Spike Lee's film completely missed the afforementioned symbolism. He obviously has some luggage to work out. Some great stories are best left in books.
Barbara
Based on the true story of a group of 4 African American soldiers separated from their Division - the 92nd Division which was for black soldiers only. The movie by Spike Lee was pretty faithful to the novel. However, the novel provided more of the background and inner thoughts of the soldiers, and the abuse of Black soldiers by the Army. All Black Divisions had white commanders and the practice was to select southerners. Many of these white southerners were racists, and places no value on the li...more
Paul
James McBride's maiden voyage gives us an intriguing tale of four soldiers, none of whom like each other, who embark on an accidental quest and begin to realize the truth of their lives. Though interrupted by the violence of war, the characters still manage to find ways to triumph, in unexpected ways, even when the end is imminent. All this is done with an element of comedy, and strong characterization, so that what might have been a sappy feel-good tale is dramatically anything but. The sheer a...more
Stephanie Anze
I came across this novel a few years ago, while browsing at the book store. Its the story of four Afican- American soldiers and an italian boy they rescue, in their journey to leave a war-torn Italy during WWII. The story is wriiten beautifully and perfectly reflects the racial segregation that was currently happening in the military. The scenario is set for a major battle, and I do not mean the war itself. I am referring to the the matter of trust. In a such a heavy atmosphere of inequality it...more
Debbie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica
The cover of this book didn't lie when it touted the story would be "Full of miracles of friendship, of salvation and survival." Though there wasn't as much survival, the stories of salvation and friendship certainly did ring true.

I loved McBride's writing style. The opening scenes, confusing though they were, grabbed my attention and threw me in to the story. Why did Hector snap? Who was the customer? Who was the well-dressed Italian man who read Hector's story and went tearing off down the str...more
Dei
This is the book that serves as the basis for Spike Lee's new movie due out this fall. It follows the lives of black soldiers during WWII and I love war stories! Something about the rawness of emotion and the humanity that manages to survive in people is so moving.

McBride is a gifted author beautifully illuminating the inner workings of his characters through all the tools of the craft. Each character's dialect rings true unique to their personality and motives. The sweet southern slang of the s...more
Shippseattle
In Miracle at St. Anna, James McBride, author of the bestselling memoir The Color of Water, tells a war story that, like all great tales...more [close] In Miracle at St. Anna, James McBride, author of the bestselling memoir The Color of Water, tells a war story that, like all great tales of conflict, connects the enormous tragedy of war with the intimate stories of individual soldiers. Miracle at St. Anna vividly follows four of the U.S. Army's 92nd Division of all-black buffalo soldiers as they...more
Booknblues
"On December 12, 1944, Sam Train became invisible for the first time. He remembered it exactly.

He was standing on the bank of the Cinquale Canal, just north of Forte dei Marmi, in Italy. It was dawn. The order was to go. One hundred and twenty black soldiers from the 92nd Division bunched behind five tanks and watched them roll toward the water, then clumsily waded in behind them, rifles held high."

So starts James McBride's Miracle at St. Anna, a book that grabs you and never lets you go until t...more
Carol
8/12/12: added to my 'to read' list because I just finished his "Song Yet Sung" and loved it.

8/28/12: this is a lovely book about the Buffalo soldiers the USA sent to Italy in WWII. The shocking treatment of the black soldiers by their white officers, in many cases inferior to the blacks in intelligence, common sense and compassion, will confound you. That the black soldiers continued to do their jobs in impossible situations is hard to explain. the story starts with 4 black soldiers who became...more
Jason Young
Dec 04, 2012 Jason Young marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The author had a few different purposes in the book Miracle at St. Anna. One of the author's purposes was to show the great affect that World War II had on the country of Italy. World War II destroyed homes, families, land, and people all over Italy and Europe. They were already suffering from ecenomic depression. The book also shows the cruelty of the German Nazi soldiers. In the book, Nazi's rob and kill many innocent people who opposed them all over Italy. On the other hand, the book shows t...more
Anne
I read this book because I really enjoyed The Color of Water. I was mostly dissapointed by Miracle at St. Anna. I felt that although he was a good writer, his execution of the story was weak. He would create climaxes in the story that would anticipate this incredible outcome, and each time I was left very disappointed. I think the plot was a good one, but his overall ability to tell a story was weak. If McBride writes another autobiography, I will pick it up in a heartbeat because he is a good j...more
AJ
I wasn't sure if I would like this book, since the movie was generally panned (though I didn't see it). But, when I saw it sitting on a table at work with a "free" sign on it, I figured I would give it a read on my lunch hours. I never can turn down free books. I was torn between a three star and four star rating, I would like to give it three and a half, but am feeling generous today.

Anyway, I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. I'm not one who is really into war books or movies, but this...more
Debbie Petersen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Johnny D
Imagine you are on your way home, aching with hunger, when you see the most beautiful picture of a juicy hamburger on a billboard (if you're a vegetarian you can imagine a stalk of celery or something). You decide to stop by that pub and order that delicious looking burger (or celery stalk).

Oh, and when that burger arrives it is everything you imagined. It's big, it smells divine, it looks just like the advertisement, and it has all the ingredients that you love on your burger (if you're a veget...more
Rosana
Read this for a bookclub. And only finished it because I do love my bookclub. Based on the experience of African-American soldiers in Italy during WWII, James McBride had all the elements there to make this story into a great book, but unfortunately he does not deliver it. It is too bad...

Starting with the title, which is too sweet and misleading, followed by the clichéd characters – the gigantic docile negro, the smart northern negro, the sly preacher negro, the old Italian woman/witch, the old...more
Joy Weese Moll
The 92nd Infantry Division, composed of black soldiers and their white commanders, invaded Italy in 1944 encountering desperate entrenched German troops and a chaotic political landscape of even more desperate Italians who had witnessed atrocities, experienced starvation, and found it hard to imagine any sort of future for themselves or their children. In that environment, the gentle giant Sam Train rescued a small Italian boy. He raced to safety, pursued by three of his fellow soldiers. The fiv...more
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Won this book 1 8 Oct 01, 2012 05:33PM  
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James McBride is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools. He studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22. He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. He is married with three children. He lives in...more
More about James McBride...
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother The Good Lord Bird Song Yet Sung Family: Moments   Intimacy   Laughter   Kinship Symmes theory of concentric spheres

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“The enemy was irony and truth and hypocrisy, that was the real enemy. That was the enemy that was killing him.” 1 likes
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