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Miracle at St. Anna

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,063 Ratings  ·  299 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
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published January 28th 2002 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published 2001)
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Jan 27, 2013 Rowena rated it it was amazing
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
May 22, 2008 alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Book Concierge
From the book jacket: McBride was inspired by an historical incident that took place in a Tuscan village and by the experiences of the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Division, who served in Italy during World War II. It is the story of four American soldiers, the villagers among whom they take refuge, a band of partisans, and an Italian boy, all of whom encounter a miracle.

My reactions:
Like any good war story, McBride includes dangerous situations, tense relationships, descriptions of brutality,
Mar 19, 2015 Rhonda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 the 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 a
Brian DiMattia
Apr 10, 2010 Brian DiMattia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 09, 2010 Matty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jul 12, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 21, 2009 danielle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 05, 2009 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 31, 2012 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 21, 2013 Miles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 24, 2009 Sherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sherie by: Brooke
This is my second book by McBride and he continues to impress. The Buffalo Soldiers are so named by the American Indians, because their nappy hair reminded them of their beloved bison's mane. They have been around since the late l800's doing detail work that no white man would sully their hand with and had become a fixture in the American armed services for doing what white folks would not.
The story is about a detail of four men standed during a surge, where, without the support of their white
May 26, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enjoyable book. The beginning and end were the strongest parts, with writing that was a pleasure to read and re-read in places. The story was interesting and compelling, while giving the reader a perspective not usually found in our literature: that of black soldiers and that of the Italian civilians during WWII. The interaction of the very poor white villagers with no inherent racial bias with negro men from the 1940s during a war makes for an interesting crucible. Each characte ...more
Joel Van Valin
James McBride's Miracle at St. Anna is a fictionalized account of a minor incident involving the all-black "buffalo soldiers" of the Army's 92nd division during the Italian campaign of World War II. The narrative itself is a blow-by-blow account of four soldiers separated from their company during a firefight and an Italian boy whose fate inadvertently becomes linked to theirs.

In Kay Boyle's story "The Lost", written just after World War II, a black American soldier is denied permission to adopt
Isaiah Graham
Feb 26, 2015 Isaiah Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miracle At ST.Anna by James McBride is a emotional story of black American soldiers fighting the German army in the mountains of Italy around the village of St. Anna of Stazzema in December 1944. McBride exposes racism, guilt, courage, revenge and forgiveness, with the soldiers confronting their own fear and rage. This book is a great read especially if you into stories about war. McBride described every little detail in this book so perfectly that you would think you where in the story when u ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Shawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had just read another McBride book (the one that one a prize, was it National Book Award? I think so, The Good Lord Bird), so I wasn't sure about taking up another so quickly, but Miracle at St. Anna wasn't even in the United States! I figured...has to be quite different that America in 1850.
Sure enough, this novel was about a group of black American soldiers during World War II, who fought in Italy.
Well, shit, it was just the best. Author McBride is just a special case, for me. I bet not ever
Nick Young
The authors purpose of writing this book is to educate the reader on past events. The author, James McBride, tells the story about an Afro-American saving an Italian boy for the Nazis. The author is educating the reader about true events that happened in World War II.
The theme of this book is everyone's life is as important as your own life. This soldier risked his own life on many occasions, to save the life of an orphan Italian boy. The author was trying to indirectly say that anything can

I've read a lot of books set during World War II, but only a couple that centered on Italy, and this is the first I've read that's dealt specifically with the Army’s 92nd Division -- aka, the Buffalo Soldiers.

"To fight the enemy? Which enemy? The Germans? The Italians? The enemy was irony and truth and hypocrisy, that was the real enemy. That was the enemy that was killing him."

Towards the end of World War II, four soldiers with the 92nd Division get separated from the rest of their unit in the
Nancy Komatz
I read this book after researching the massacre that took place at Sant'Anna di Stazzema and watching some clips from the movie by the same name. I had also visited the site in person, and found the clip that took place in the churchyard depicted the site accurately. I hoped the same for the book.
The book takes place following the massacre and deals with the subjects of racial issues in the US Army, as well as love, trust, superstition and miracles (as the name implies).
I found the story line
May 20, 2009 Sequoia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sonnet Medrano
In war, there is death and hate. There is rank and command, blood and fear, and mercy rarely exists, let alone love or miracles. Until faith intercedes. James McBride's book is a masterpiece of human emotion; bravely he portrays raw, agonizing depths of pain, fear, hate, sorrow, and despair, and the realization that anything else in the midst of war is truly miraculous. He shows the hearts of black men fighting for a country that continues to reject them. He reveals the spirits of peasants and p ...more
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
Mar 28, 2014 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Steve Smits
Jan 28, 2016 Steve Smits rated it really liked it
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Kathleen McRae
Mar 31, 2016 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story and documents very well the destruction of war and the terrible effects on the poor people whose country is the one where that wasteful and futile exercise called war is waged. This story also brings out the effects of the young uneducated people who get called to action through conscription. In this particular story it is young black soldiers fighting for America which will segregate them in the field of battle and that is beyond the segregation they face at home Lives shattered and ...more
Rita Graham
Jan 17, 2016 Rita Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a small group of soldiers from an all-black division fighting in Tuscany during WWII. When one of the men attempts to escape an enemy onslaught, having been denied assistance from ground command he becomes lost in the mountains. Four others pursue him but become surrounded by the enemy. Train (who has other names signifying his behavior, physical appearance, or status) refuses to abandon a small boy who was the sole survivor of an atrocity at St. Anna. The story is difficult ...more
Corinna Edwards-Colledge
My edition of this book had a rather romantic looking pastel image of a boy sat on a rock so I had a completely misleading idea of what the story would be like. As it turns out this is an extraordinary fictionalised account of a battalion of black US soldiers in Italy during the second world war who end up rescuing an orphaned boy and hiding out in a rural village. It's a no-holds barred, sometimes brutal account of war, but manages to always keep a sense of deep humanity. The descriptions of ho ...more
Mar 10, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must give a shout out to ‘St. Anna’ because this is a World War 2 epic that features the valiant efforts of the famed Buffalo Soldiers. The fact is my father served as a medic in a Buffalo Soldier regiment in Italy. He had spoken of how the racial imbalance among the troops played out at the time. The novel displayed how America’s deep rooted racism (particularly of the southern variety) persisted even with their lives at stake in the midst of world war waged against Hitler’s Nazi regime. So, ...more
Feb 04, 2009 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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
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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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