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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  626 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Italy, near Cassino, in the terrible winter of 1944. An icy rain, continuing unabated for days. Guided by a seventy-year-old Italian man in rope-soled shoes, three American soldiers are sent on a reconnaissance mission up the side of a steep hill that they discover, before very long, to be a mountain. As they climb, the old man's indeterminate loyalties only add to the ter ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Knopf (first published 2008)
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Sam Quixote
1944, southern Italy. It's the closing stages of the war and the Americans are chasing the Italian Fascists and the Nazis north and out of Italy. After the American squad encounters a Nazi ambush, 3 GIs are sent with a local Italian to scout ahead of the main group up into the mountains.

But as they make their way up they begin to question the loyalties of the Italian - is he a harmless old man or a Fascist sympathiser leading them into another trap? As they ascend higher, the continuous rain be
Ally Armistead
Sep 03, 2008 Ally Armistead rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Suzanne Price
It is rare to read a perfect work, but Bausch's Peace is indeed such a masterpiece. Set in Italy on the brink of WWII, three soldiers journey up a snow fallen mountainside on a reconnaissance mission, only to be met with the cruelty of the cold, haunting memories of innocent civilians slain, an Italian guide whose allegiance is questionable, and a mysterious sniper stalking their every move. In sparse, beautiful language--distilled and serene as the snowfallen landscape of Peace itself--we encou ...more
Will Byrnes
As Michael Hedges might say, “War is a force that gives us meaning.” Richard Bausch’s Peace offers human character assaulted and revealed by the horror of war.

In bleak 1944 Italy, after the Cassino invasion by the Allies, a reconnaissance company stops a farmer’s cart. A German soldier and whore jump out. The German shoots and kills two soldiers before being himself shot dead by a GI. A sergeant shoots the German whore, who is screaming and struggling, even though she presents no threat to the
Richard Bausch is a name most won’t recognize. He’s what you’d call a writer’s writer: a writer whose work is read primarily, if not exclusively, by other writers. Over the years, Bausch has earned a reputation as one of the better American short story writers; and over the years, I have read a number of his stories and thoroughly enjoyed them. Peace is the first novel by Bausch that I have ever picked up.

I decided to buy a copy of the book when I saw it on a table at the local bookstore and rec

Occasionally, you encounter a story that seems as though it has been crystallized to its essence. That is my experience with "Peace," which is about peace, but also about war.

Richard Bausch starts with a straightforward story of an ugly and dispiriting moment in WWII. A squad of foot soldiers near Monte Cassino have unexpectedly rousted a German soldier and a prostitute from the back of a hay-covered wagon, and in an instant, two of the GIs are dead, the German has in turn been shot and the squ
Kathryn Bashaar
This book reminded me a lot of Hemingway's Farewell to Arms. They style was spare and kind of Hemingwayesque and the subject matter was similar. Just as Hemingway used rain to set a mood in his book, this author used the freezing, snowy weather to heighten the feeling of despair, misery and futility. FTA of course included a love story, and Peace includes no female characters outsides of the memory of the main character Marson, but the theme of the despair, misery and futility of war reminded me ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Wow! I read this entire book in one sitting with just a couple of pee breaks and a banana snack! Sometimes the books with the fewest words are the most profound.
The first paragraph of Richard Bausch’s novella Peace ends: “Everything was in question now.” The “everything” in question apparently refers to questions of time and geography, but is suggestive of the book’s wider theme: The moral confusion that follows soldiers into war, when all the codes they’ve spent their short lives learning are cast aside. Robert Marson, the WWII soldier who is the protagonist of this taut, gripping tale, arrives in Italy just about the time that nation changes from an A ...more
A superb, and near perfect ,"Peace: a novel” is a tale of three U.S Soilders set upon a hill in Italy during World War Two, along with an old Italin villager who is to be their guide. The Three Soilders sent are all different and their characters well written by Richard Bausch. The climb is not easy in freezing relentless rain then unforgiving snow. Their Italian guide speaks little English and his motives are unclear. Higher up the hill they come arcoss horros of war and their wills are tested ...more
April Helms
A small army patrol in Italy has been charged with the task of scouting around and finding any straggling enemy soldiers towards the end of World War II. This is much harder than it seems. The fast-paced novel mostly follows three of the soldiers and their Italian guide, a 70-year-old man whose loyalties are unknown. The reader can feel the oppresive cold rain that pours for days, followed by the heavy mountain snow. The three soldiers suffer not just from the elements but their memories of home ...more
I'm adding this book to my goodreads account because I read this at least 2 years ago and it is still with me.

Inadvertently, I had recently finished *A Thread of Grace* by Mary Doria Russell. Sitting these two stories side by side just about blew my brain. Same setting, different viewpoints. A-mazing.

Told from a U.S. soldier's view, it is near the end of the war and he is tired. So tired. And yet he is assigned yet another mission of recon. He has to depend upon an elderly Italian as his guide
Brilliant! Short novel, powerful action, punchy writing, superb presentation of dreadful weather and wartime fears and the interaction among a team of five men on a reconnaissance mission on a mountain near Monte Cassino. Bausch does a fine job of keeping the story going, though the action is really very short, he fills in so much of the talk and sights and fears and thoughts and awful weather and fears again without it seeming repetitious - and that is an accomplishment by any writer of a story ...more
With "Peace", Richard Bausch writes a small novel that is anything but. Carefully crafted using spare writing, Bausch takes us into the minds of three young soldiers on a scouting mission in WWII Italy, as the Germans are retreating north. Each character is forced to deal with his fears, his emotions and the moral complexities that often face soldiers during times of war. Peace is a masterpiece that needs to be discovered and read.
I appreciate reading novels and histories about war, so this attracted me immediately I saw it. Bausch has produced a masterpiece, worthy to stand alongside such as Crane's 'The Red Badge of Courage' or Remarque's 'All Quiet on the Western Front'. It tells a fascinating story of a late afternoon, a night, and a morning in the U.S. invasion of Italy during WW2. Even though it is a short novel, or novella, as some would describe it, it packs a lot into that short timespan. All the characters, bar ...more
Great piece of literature. There is no way to describe it - Bausch is just very very good. I don't normally read war books but this held my attention even when things got brutal at times.
This was one of the 2009 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to
Andrew Robins
Set in world war two, three American soldiers and an Italian guide of debatable loyalties are sent up a mountain in horrible winter conditions to see what is on the other side.

Over the course of the trip, we see their back-stories, and see the changing nature of the relationships between themselves, and also with their guide.

A really excellent book, marvellously written, which just begs to be read in a single sitting (200 pages or so, so pretty concise).

As an aside, fans of The Sopranos might fi
There's a lot to be said for short, succinct books, especially if they deliver punches that feel more powerful — and more targeted — than might be achieved by novels of much longer length. It takes a particular skill to craft stories that have been honed to the bare minimum without losing the essence of what makes them special.

Richard Bausch, an American writer, has that rare talent to convey meaning and emotion in a tightly written narrative in which every word has to justify its existence. No
An abrupt and chilling act of violence opens Bauch's 11th novel, marking the beginning of a bleak but compelling meditation on the moral dimensions of warfare. Cpl. Robert Marson is trudging up an Italian hillside, leading two of his men on an uncertain mission through the unrelenting winter of 1944. The soldiers are haunted by the cold-blooded murder by their sergeant, Glick, of a woman on the Italian roadside, and highly suspicious of the Italian farmer they have enlisted to act as a guide in ...more
Peace is a novel by Richard Bausch that captures the brutality, loneliness, and moral complexity of war. It’s effectively written, highly controlled, vivid, and disturbing. There’s really no peace at all in this novel. The setting is Italy, WWII. Three GIs are sent ahead to scout the German retreat. They’ve already witnessed their sergeant unjustifiably murder a woman traveling with a German officer they found hiding in a peasant’s cart, and they don’t like each other.

Marson, the corporal, is a
If you've never heard of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, you should check it out - I've discovered some great books through prize shortlists, including this 2009 winner.

I say that Peace is a great book, because I know that it is. It's beautifully written, and provides some interesting commentary on the moral choices inherent in war. When exactly is it acceptable to kill someone? Is it OK to do it if it's a matter of survival? At what point does it become unacceptable to kill someone in the thea
Adrienne Power
A group of soldiers in Italy, near Cassino, during the Second World War, witness the killing by their Sergeant of an unarmed woman. Three of the soldiers and an Italian Scout are sent ahead up a mountain by the Sergeant to see what is on the other side. Corporal Marson, Private Joyner and Private Asch each deal with their demons that are unleashed following the incident. Asch’s nightmares of a burning tank, Joyner’s itchy arm drives him to distraction, while Marson’s blistered heel becomes more ...more
Richard Bausch's taut novel tells us what happens when civilian soldiers go to war. It's a powerfully atmospheric story about three American soldiers sent up a mountain in Italy near Cassino during the brutal winter of 1944. Their mission: see what the Germans are doing on the other side. Their mental state: conflicted by the shooting of a German woman they witnessed just before they left. Was it murder? An act of war? Should they report it when they return or simply fold it into their psyches? ...more
Charles Matthews
If war didn’t exist, novelists would have to invent it. What other pursuit reduces humanity to a raw essence and brings into question the nature of civilization?

Richard Bausch’s Peace is a very short novel. Some would call it a novella, but that diminutive doesn’t do the book justice. For with a kind of magical economy, Bausch packs more into 171 pages than some novelists do with three times that number. He has written 10 previous novels, and he has learned how to propel a story, to lay traps fo
Oct 12, 2011 Felonious rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Felonious by: Deb
Shelves: topshelf
When this book (Peace) was recommended to me, I read the description and was a bit reluctant to read it at first. The plot sounded all too familiar. A soldier witnesses a murder committed by his Sargent and must decide if he should report it. After seeing the book was only about 170 pages I decided I would give it a try (that and the fact that I trust the person who recommended it to me).

The setting for Peace is Italy during WWII. Most of the story takes place during the mission after the murde
Tim Paccione
Some spoilers kinda. Nothing about plot

I feel like so little happened in this book. The author would touch on the plot for 2 paragraphs, then talk about the setting or the characters boring, uninspiring backgrounds for 2 chapters. I found myself skimming so much irrelevant information that can only be described as "filler" which was doubly disappointing as you shouldn't need that in a book that's only 171 pages. The themes the author seemed to try to introduce we're vague and weakly presented.
Bausch is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers...and this book, though about a fairly bleak topic (war), is really beautiful, both on a sentence by sentence level (stunning), and in the way he allows the story to unfold. It's the type book that is so tense, yet so artfully crafted, that you'll probably want to read it several times (well, I do, at least). Luckily, its modest length will allow you to do so.

One star off because the climb up the mountain kept making me think of that kids so
Now THIS book is excellent. The best I've recently read. It's a novella, granted, but when do I ever start and finish a book in the same day? I simply don't have the luxury anymore, but Bausch hooked me with his eloquent prose, his true sentences, the point of view and insights provided by protagonist, Robert Marston, and his precise descriptions.
I hadn't read it before because I wasn't in the "mood" for a war book. For the past few years, I've been reading "relationship" books only. I found out
Brilliant. Tense, gripping. In 1944 Italy Corporal Marson is sent on a reconnaissance mission with two others and a guide - an old Italian. Their mountain climb is perilous, the weather wretched and relentless, snipers lie in wait and Marson cannot be sure if their Italian guide can be trusted. This is more than a novel about the WW2 - it feels contemporary, packed with emotional force and moral complexity. Often said lightly, but truly - I couldn't put it down.
Anastasia Geffe
I have heare this book praised for it's simple words. Simple they may be, but not clear. Often one pronoun is used in the same paragraph to refer to more than one character. Also while there are few characters it is hard to remember who is who. Almost no visual description is ever given for most. You don't even realize that one Character is the only Jewish man until the very end.

I have felt more emotion when apartment shopping.
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An acknowledged master of the short story form, Richard Bausch's work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper's, The New Yorker, Narrative, Gentleman's Quarterly. Playboy, The Southern Review, New Stories From the South, The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Pushcart Prize Stories; and they have been widely anthologized, including The Granta Book of the Ame ...more
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The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction The Stories of Richard Bausch Before, During, After Something is Out There Thanksgiving Night

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“He turned in a small circle and looked at the grass, the rocks, the river, the raining sky with its tatters and torn places, the shining bark of the wet trees all around. He could not think of any prayers now. But every movement felt like a kind of adoration.” 5 likes
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