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Miracle at St. Anna

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  2,159 Ratings  ·  312 Reviews
James McBride's memoir, "The Color of Water," was a literary achievement that topped bestseller lists for more than two years. Now McBride turns his extraordinary gift for storytelling to fiction. "Miracle at St. Anna" is a tale of courage and redemption inspired by the famed Buffalo soldiers of the 92nd Division and a little-known historic event in a small Tuscan village ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Turtleback Books (first published 2001)
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Jan 27, 2013 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Oct 20, 2016 Charlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of courage and redemption thru the eyes of four Buffalo Soldiers. Well written and interesting story. A good book to read of little-known world war black soldiers and how they fought in WW11.
Nov 13, 2016 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book for several reasons especially the layering of the characters, their personalities, hopes and dreams, tragedies, cultures and ultimately the transformation of some characters when their lives were close to the end. This author wrote "The Color of Water" which I have not read, but certainly intend to. Definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves to learn of other countries and cultures (in this case Italy, WWII).
Sharon Huether
The Buffalo soldiers separated from their fellow American soldiers, held the church At St Anna , along with a local sick boy , they were surrounded by the Germans.
It was an unspeakable tragedy. Only one Buffalo soldier made back to the states.
Will Turner
Oct 07, 2016 Will Turner rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Interesting read. 4 Buffalo soldiers in Italy come across a young boy. Wrestles with how they are freer in Italy than they are in America.
Steve Smits
Jan 28, 2016 Steve Smits rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Young
Dec 04, 2012 Jason Young marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The author had a few different purposes in the book Miracle at St. Anna. One of the author's purposes was to show the great affect that World War II had on the country of Italy. World War II destroyed homes, families, land, and people all over Italy and Europe. They were already suffering from ecenomic depression. The book also shows the cruelty of the German Nazi soldiers. In the book, Nazi's rob and kill many innocent people who opposed them all over Italy. On the other hand, the book shows t ...more
Sep 17, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover of this book didn't lie when it touted the story would be "Full of miracles of friendship, of salvation and survival." Though there wasn't as much survival, the stories of salvation and friendship certainly did ring true.

I loved McBride's writing style. The opening scenes, confusing though they were, grabbed my attention and threw me in to the story. Why did Hector snap? Who was the customer? Who was the well-dressed Italian man who read Hector's story and went tearing off down the str
Debbie Petersen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In Miracle at St. Anna, James McBride, author of the bestselling memoir The Color of Water, tells a war story that, like all great tales...more [close] In Miracle at St. Anna, James McBride, author of the bestselling memoir The Color of Water, tells a war story that, like all great tales of conflict, connects the enormous tragedy of war with the intimate stories of individual soldiers. Miracle at St. Anna vividly follows four of the U.S. Army's 92nd Division of all-black buffalo soldiers as they ...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
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
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
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
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
Nov 19, 2012 AJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, fiction
I wasn't sure if I would like this book, since the movie was generally panned (though I didn't see it). But, when I saw it sitting on a table at work with a "free" sign on it, I figured I would give it a read on my lunch hours. I never can turn down free books. I was torn between a three star and four star rating, I would like to give it three and a half, but am feeling generous today.

Anyway, I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. I'm not one who is really into war books or movies, but this

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
Johnny D
Imagine you are on your way home, aching with hunger, when you see the most beautiful picture of a juicy hamburger on a billboard (if you're a vegetarian you can imagine a stalk of celery or something). You decide to stop by that pub and order that delicious looking burger (or celery stalk).

Oh, and when that burger arrives it is everything you imagined. It's big, it smells divine, it looks just like the advertisement, and it has all the ingredients that you love on your burger (if you're a veget
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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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