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A Bell for Adano

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  6,547 Ratings  ·  218 Reviews
An Italian-American major in World War II wins the love and admiration of the local townspeople when he teaches them democracy and searches for a replacement for the 700 year-old town bell that had been melted down for bullets by the fascists.
Mass Market Paperback, 246 pages
Published 1946 by Bantam Books (first published 1944)
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3.5 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 si
Jason Pettus
(As of July 2012, I am selling a first-edition copy of this book through the rare-book service at my arts organization, the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. Here below is the description I wrote for its listing.)

Written in the middle of World War Two and the winner of the 1945 Pulitzer Prize, this was just one of the many high points of the fascinating John Hersey's life, over the course of a long and eventful career. A missionary brat who learned to spe
Apr 14, 2008 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Pulitzer-prize-winner from 1944, this is the story of the Americans working to win hearts and minds as they drive the fascists out of Italy. I read this at a time when I was feeling pretty down, and it felt good to read a book with a lot of heart, and with a strong clear message against big and little fascisms. You can see why it was so popular in 1944. The great good man at the heart of the book – and we are told he is a good man before the book even starts, in a foreword by the author - is ...more
Oct 29, 2008 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was published in 1944 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1945 (I'm working my way through the Pulitzer lists). Knowing the date gives a better appreciation for the book and its setting - a small town in Sicily, occupied by an American unit trying to replace the ousted fascists with a democratic government. The war is in its final days to the north, but here, there is conflict of a different kind.

The main character and leader of the American occupation, Major Joppolo, is an Itali
Oct 06, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I thought it racist, because the Italians are portrayed as ridiculous, as naive and childish backwards people, and Joppolo as a savior. Then I realized that everyone except Joppolo is denigrated, and he is drawn as just a good guy trying to do a good job and be liked and be not too vulnerable to his foibles. So, I'm getting along on the humorous bits and being moved by some tragic bits. Then I get to the end and find that the horrid American officer who couldn't be troubled to learn the ...more
Raymond Bial
Aug 28, 2011 Raymond Bial rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Decades ago, a high school classmate raved about A Bell for Adano, but for some reason I never got around to reading this novel until recently. It is not only a heart-warming story, but a realistic portrayal of the best of America's soldiers not only in fighting during World War II, but also in carefully rebuilding nations. This well-crafted novel also offers a civics lesson, so desperately needed today, about the wonder of democracy and ethical leadership, especially to the people of the small ...more
Jun 24, 2010 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book and never tire of rereading it. Hersey won the Pullitzer Prize in 1945 for this story of an American Major who is assigned to oversee a small Italian town after the invasion in the waning days of WWII. There is a wide assortment of colorful characters, but none of them is a caricature - all are very real people and easy to imagine. The story is sweet, but the ending is sad. The fact that it is foreshadowed right at the beginning does not make it any less sad when it happens. But ...more
Kirsten *Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!"
An interlibrary loan from Fort Vancouver Regional Library in Vancouver, WA.

I only knew of this author from the fact that it was required reading to read his book Hiroshima when I was in high school. This book was his first book and he won the Pulitzer Prize with it!

I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of those feel good movies of the decent man in an indecent world. A town that has been beaten down and trodden upon, not just by the invaders, but by their leaders both local and national. Then thi
Jane Hoppe
Mar 10, 2014 Jane Hoppe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review A Bell for Adano by John Hersey

Every so often I feel inadequate writing a review because I fear it cannot express my reverence for the book’s writing. Such is the case now. My words about John Hersey’s A Bell for Adano are a tinkling triangle compared with the deep, full, rich town bell Major Joppolo insisted on for Adano. Hersey’s 1944 novel well deserved the 1945 Pulitzer Prize. When I read this book for high school English in the late 1960s, I could not possibly have grasped its depth
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very American book. It could not have been written by any other nationality. It also could not have been written in any other era, certainly not in today's (2007) post-Vietnam, Iraq-burdened United States.[return][return][return]In a Bell for Adano, Hersey tells the story of the occupation and administration by Allied forces in 1943 of a recently-liberated Sicilian village. The administrator, Major Victor Joppolo, himself Italian-American, is an idealistic young man who earnestly wishe ...more
Christopher Cooley
Ms. Doering,
Since my last letter, I have been reading a book called, A Bell for Adano. It is by John Hersey and as far as I can tell, the genre is Historical Fiction. It is 245 pages, even though I am on page 140. I chose this book solely on a recommendation by an English teacher by may or not be reading this.

The story in General can be about many different things, I haven't even figured out what the author wants me to think about the book, or the content in the book. It is about many differe
Russell Bittner
Aug 29, 2013 Russell Bittner rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read and quite favorably reviewed Hiroshima early last month — followed up by a re-read and a less enthusiastic review of White Lotus — I also mentioned A Bell for Adano as a title I vaguely recalled from my youth, although I was quite certain I’d never read the book.

I now have — and regret to say that I’m quite underwhelmed by it, all of the positive reviews here and at Amazon notwithstanding.

Forgive me. I know that Hersey won the Pulitzer Prize for this book. And although th
Mar 02, 2011 Benedict rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book. It was written by John Hersey who wrote Hiroshima. Once I had read Hiroshima I learned to trust Hersey's observations and writing skills.

Hersey wrote A Bell for Adano from interviews of real people in Italy during the war, and from interviews with a local American who was the military commandant for the Americans and who was the inspiration for this book.

I came away with a great appreciation of the charm of Italy, and will always remember the commandant as an exampl
Worthy of the Pulitzer Prize.
May 24, 2017 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1945; this story of rebirth and respectful occupation is still relevant. Major Joppolo is a quintessentially decent American. One that there are very few of in literature. Hersey's portrayal of spreading democracy through kindness is refreshing, and poignant. He does not preach ideology, instead he creates characters that we invest in. Would highly recommend.
Anna Gabur
I don't usually write long reviews, but this book frustrated me so much, that I just felt like I had to. I really tried to like this one, but I couldn't even take it seriously! At first I had the feeling that it had been written for children for some reason. Everything was so over-simplified and two-dimensional, that it was almost like a fairy-tale, except that four people died in it. After a while I realized that it wasn't the readers who were supposed to be children. The characters seemed to h ...more
John Lucy
Nov 05, 2012 John Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I picked up this book was that I got it from my grandmother's library. At the time my edition was printed, Hersey had not yet won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel, so I had no reason to think it was any good. Indeed, for the first few chapters I wondered if reading A Bell for Adano would be a total waste of my time: I thought the beginning of the story seemed forced, especially because the description of characters (Borth, for instance, is described as a "wise guy") didn't match ...more
Oleg Kagan
After loving Hiroshima, A Bell for Adano was a real letdown. The predictable plot proceeded with purpose but the cookie-cutter characters pushed things a bit too far. Though I enjoy books set in foreign countries and it seems as if Hersey captured the local color of a small Italian fishing town fairly well (the Italian characters were, in fact, the most interesting), but they could not save A Bell for Adano. Likewise, the description of military bureaucracy were on-target (read Catch-22 for a tr ...more
Day O'Dea
Jul 03, 2014 Day O'Dea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Hasn't aged well at all. While I found the narrative fairly unengaging, though, it was the simplistic characterization and the racist depiction of the Italian characters that truly drove me off. The Italians all speak in an “Eye-talian” fashion, and most of them are simple-minded and foolish. I’ve seen a lot of reviews stating that the protagonist, Major Joppolo, is unbelievably nice, but the man consistently speaks to the Italian characters in condescending fashion, and it’s extremely irritatin ...more
Aug 07, 2009 Erica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the very first summer reading assignments that I loved so much that I read it twice in one summer... I still love it and am a proud owner of a 1st edition... It's one of my favorite things. The story is well told and provide an interesting look at Italy in a traumatic time in history. Well worth the read and re-read.
Christina Packard
A very good story. If it was not, it should easily have been made into a good movie.
Mar 18, 2017 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer-fiction
Not sure what happened to the first blurb of a review I wrote after the sigh of relief at discovering I had completed the book, but here goes again. In a word, Meh. Reading BFA checks a box off the Pulitzer list, and that's about it. Paper thin characters, and a limp plot. Not that it isn't a mildly enjoyable story, but really, a Pulitzer? It's probably a bad sign when less than half-way through the book I was already Googling for titles it might have been up against the year it was selected. Oh ...more
Feb 23, 2017 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time getting into this novel initially, but I'm glad I persisted. Hersey's characters are so real, so human and (usually) so lovable. What seems, at first, to be a slow story is actually a bittersweet, beautiful novel full of rich characters and culture.
Aug 14, 2015 Realini rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
Not my cup of tea

Coming on the footsteps of The Beach by Alex Garland it would have been difficult for The Bell to offer an equal satisfaction.
But I must say that I did not like this novel and it might have been due to the circumstances or a pure failure to get its value.
In other words, from here on the discourse will be rather negative and not just that, but I venture to say not interesting.
If anyone is interested to read A Bell… and takes a note by chance, then t
Apr 24, 2016 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
2.5 stars. If Hersey's magnificent Hiroshima is a stark, lasting condemnation of the atrocities of war (and, specifically, the moral relativism of the American decision to drop the bomb), then A Bell for Adano is the Greatest Generations's feel-good story of bringing good ol' American values to Europe--not merely a declaration of "why we fought the war," but a justification for spreading democracy through military occupation in the looming Cold War years. Within this context, it's easy to see wh ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Jógvan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Youngjae Choi
Aug 19, 2015 Youngjae Choi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel A Bell for Adano by John Hersey is a historical realistic fiction novel set during the World War II in a small Italian town of called Adano. This novel illustrates in details the lives of the people in a small Italian town, which is far away from the war and the politics.

The main character of the book A bell for Adano is man named Victor Joppolo, a major of the army o the United States. After taking the town from the soldiers of the Italian under the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini
Apr 19, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Hersey, a war correspondent during WWII, tells the story of Victor Joppolo, an American Major placed in charge of a town in southern Italy, during the American occupation of WWII. Acclaimed for its rich characterizations, the book was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1945, and later became a hit Broadway Play and a major motion picture. While its popularity at the time is likely due to the favorable light in which Hersey projects America and the ideal of Democracy, in contrast to the evil regime ...more
Nathan Maracle
"A Bell for Adano" is a book that takes place in World War II. It is about an Italian Major who is sent to The Town of Adano to keep everything in order. The people of Adano had just been under the absolute rule of Moussilini. The Italian, Major Joppolo, goes into the town with a mindset and character that he hopes will help change the old ways of the Facists people and help the town prosper.
Major Joppolo quickly began at his duties. Foremost, Joppolo had to establish himself. He recruited a c
Jul 19, 2015 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was blissfully beautiful. It holds the simplicity but wider political meaning reminiscent of Cry, The Beloved Country as well as the quaint setting and characters and hopeful mood (amidst WWII) prevalent in The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society. Readers who enjoyed those two books will delight in A Bell for Adano. The story takes place in a small Italian town, Adano, after Mussolini's reign. The Americans have come and invaded the town in order to denounce fascism and preach ...more
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John Richard Hersey was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer and journalist considered one of the earliest practitioners of the so-called New Journalism, in which storytelling devices of the novel are fused with non-fiction reportage. Hersey's account of the aftermath of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, was adjudged the finest piece of journalism of the 20th century by a 36-member ...more
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