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A Bell for Adano
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A Bell for Adano

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,211 Ratings  ·  198 Reviews
An Italian-American major in World War II wins the love and admiration of the local townspeople when he searches for a replacement for the 700 year-old town bell that had been melted down for bullets by the fascists.
Paperback, 269 pages
Published March 12th 1988 by Vintage (first published 1944)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Oct 29, 2008 David rated it liked it
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
Sep 07, 2008 David rated it liked it
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
Raymond Bial
Aug 28, 2011 Raymond Bial rated it it was amazing
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 30, 2010 Ann rated it it was amazing
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
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 23, 2014 Christopher Cooley rated it did not like it
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
Jane Hoppe
Mar 10, 2014 Jane Hoppe rated it it was amazing
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
Russell Bittner
Sep 03, 2013 Russell Bittner rated it did not like it
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
Anna Gabur
Mar 30, 2015 Anna Gabur rated it it was ok
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
Mar 02, 2011 Benedict rated it really liked it
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
John Lucy
Nov 05, 2012 John Lucy rated it really liked it
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
Jun 11, 2011 Oleg Kagan rated it it was ok
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 23, 2015 Day O'Dea rated it did not like it
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
Apr 24, 2016 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
Two-and-a-half 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 eas ...more
John Mccullough
Jan 07, 2016 John Mccullough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1945. It is both a period piece describing the Allied occupation of a Sicilian beachhead town/city during the first few weeks of the occupation and the efforts of an Italian-American, Major Victor Joppolo, to make the occupation a success. The book describes the major difficulties for Major Joppolo in ensuring that things go smoothly; of course, they do not. There are fascists who ran the town for 13 years, war and its consequences for civilians, sh ...more
Aug 14, 2015 Realini rated it it was ok
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
Jul 27, 2015 Samantha rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 07, 2009 Erica rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 25, 2014 Traci rated it really liked it
Pulitzer prize winner. Set in italy during World War II, after the Americans have invaded Italy. We set up our own government there. An American Major, Victor Joppolo, becomes mayor. He is just, fair, kind. He wants the best for Italy. He is the son of Italian immigrants. Grew up in New York. Tells the story of how he handles all of the people of the village, Adano. Also, how they all come to feel about him. He is, of course, finally relieved of his duties by a higher up, whom he offended by ove ...more
Sep 16, 2015 Cindy rated it liked it
This is a good book, a short easy read with some sad moments. This book is set at the end of World War II in the fictional town of Adano Italy. The Americans are not painted in a good light. They did not care about the war or the people of Adano. All they wanted to do was drink and chase girls. Major Joppolo was different, he was half Italian and wanted to win the hearts and minds of the residents in Adano. The town lost its bell, it was taken down and melted to make ammunition and gun barrels. ...more
May 04, 2014 Mike rated it liked it
"Mister Major Joppolo for president"
The protagonist single handedly saves the town of Adano from the fascist fallout. A simple and vivid book about a small town in Italy during the war. The characters were generic and stereotypical but in this book, that gave me a sense of security allowing me to play along. I couldn't help feeling a sense of propaganda pushing as I kept reading, but in hindsight I see the heroification of the American major as a morale booster for the Americans on the home fron
Brian Calandra
Jun 19, 2016 Brian Calandra rated it liked it
It seems impossible that this book was published before WWII ended, but apparently it was published in 1944. It's an open letter to the US military on what skills it will take to effectively occupy a conquered territory, and an attempt to create a modern American myth - the story of how American values can come to be loved by people who have been fighting us. Values like justice, empathy, morality, and truth if they are modeled by the right American leader.

It's also a treatise on how to "get to
Christina Packard
A very good story. If it was not, it should easily have been made into a good movie.
Feb 19, 2014 Patrick rated it it was ok
This 1945 novel about a U.S. Army major and his role in the American occupation of Adano, Italy near the end of World War Two has a few poignant and humorous moments, but nothing like the staying power that Pulitzer Prize-winning literature should have.

The Americans and Italians in John Hersey's story are walking stereotypes, although there is a more charitable argument to be made that they are in fact archetypes rather than stereotypes (A short essay over at The Enchanted Inkpot explains the d
Apr 10, 2016 Jógvan rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bill V
May 16, 2016 Bill V rated it really liked it
This is a nice book. The characters are not all that well developed but the appeal of the book are the good intentions of the main character, Major Victor Joppolo. He was driven to improve the conditions of the Italian town, Adano, he was assigned to and succeeded in every measure. In doing so he went against orders and was eventually dismissed because of it.
Needless to say, the central aspect of the book is Joppolo's efforts to obtain for the town a bell which evidently helps bind the town toge
Youngjae Choi
Dec 07, 2015 Youngjae Choi rated it really liked it
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
Tracy Shapley
Aug 28, 2010 Tracy Shapley rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer
A Bell For Adano takes place in Italy during World War II. Major Jopollo is our humble narrator, and a pretty good one he was. His goal is to prove to the Italian people that the Americans are actually trying to help. Most of the other military personnel in the area are kind of dicks and more concerned with their own petty bullshit, or proving their superiority over the Italian villagers.

I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would. For one, it just happened to take place on a military
Apr 19, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
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
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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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