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3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  746 Ratings  ·  168 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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Will Byrnes
Oct 15, 2011 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
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
Sam Quixote
Sep 20, 2011 Sam Quixote rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 25, 2008 Ally Armistead rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 08, 2013 Colby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing

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
Sep 20, 2008 Kathryn Bashaar rated it really liked it
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"
Sep 23, 2009 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: My library
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.
Jan 23, 2010 Kat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2009 HBalikov rated it really liked it
A day in the life of a soldier on patrol in WW II Italy. Told in a combination of the day advancing and flashbacks, it is a powerful look at the thoughts, hopes, fears and interaction of a "grunt" in the U.S. Army's assault on fascist-held Italy. Very well-done mix of the trivial and the larger picture as we suffer along with Cpl. Marson and he tries to survive and make sense of it all.
Chris Blocker
Aug 16, 2016 Chris Blocker rated it really liked it
Though I keep saying I'm done with the European theater of World War II—and I do a fair job keeping my distance—I am clearly not entirely done. A favorite author writes a phenomenal book about the subject. A story about something unrelated suddenly “goes there.” It's unavoidable. Mix my desire to revisit the work of Richard Bausch and the promise of a quick read and, well, here we go again.

Peace is one of those books with a small cast of characters and an even smaller plot. Undoubtedly, some rea
Sep 27, 2011 Rayroy rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 13, 2009 April Helms rated it really liked it
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
Dec 25, 2011 Cball rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
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
Jun 19, 2012 Maynard rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 24, 2011 RUSA CODES rated it it was amazing
This was one of the 2009 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to
Apr 01, 2012 Elvira rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 14, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it
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
Mar 04, 2017 Larry rated it really liked it

Italy-World War 2. Marson, Asch and Joyner are three young GI’s who have have just been a party to a senseless killing. Two of their guys, Walberg and Hopewell were killed when they surprised a German soldier and his whore hiding in a hay wagon. Young Marson killed the German; their sergeant, Glick, killed the woman.
Now the three are sent up an immense hill on a recon mission. The rain, the cold, the snow, the constant bickering about what to do about the “murder” of the woman. And whether or n
Charles Matthews
Dec 06, 2009 Charles Matthews rated it really liked it
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
Adrienne Power
Mar 14, 2012 Adrienne Power rated it really liked it
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
Feb 17, 2017 Alan rated it really liked it
Short, intense rumination on the effect of war on an individual. Perhaps it isn't a unique take on war, but it was well told and not a word was wasted.
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.
Sep 23, 2011 Felonious rated it really liked it
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
May 23, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant! A 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, mixing ethics, religion, severe danger and kindness. Though the action is actually quite short, he provides so much of the talk and sights and fears and thoughts and awful weather and fear again without it seeming repetitious
Jun 14, 2008 Dave rated it it was amazing
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
Martin McGovern
I hate to be the only negative review, even though I will rate it 3 stars, but I found the repitition very tiresome. The petty arguments between Asch and Joyner really annoyed me, but maybe that is a technique of the writer to make Joyner an unlikeable character. And the rain! My god, how many times did we get descriptions of the rain. As for that mountain....I got the impression that it was a bit of a hill that the 3 soldiers were sent up to have a look over the top and report back. A couple of ...more
Aug 15, 2013 Garry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 02, 2013 Kimbofo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2009 Monte rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jun 30, 2015 Adrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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“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.” 6 likes
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