Gone to Soldiers
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Gone to Soldiers

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  2,173 ratings  ·  162 reviews
In a stunning tour-de-force, Marge Piercy has woven a tapestry of World War II, of six women and four men, who fought and died, worked and worried, and moved through the dizzying days of the war. A compelling chronicle of humans in conflict with inhuman events, GONE TO SOLIDERS is an unforgettable reading experience and a stirring tribute to the remarkable survival of the...more
Paperback, 800 pages
Published April 12th 1988 by Fawcett (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

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Suzanne
This is a sprawling epic covering a loosely-linked dozen people through WWII. Piercy explores the war among immigrants and citizens in the US, refugees, soldiers, spies, and members of the underground resistance; most of the characters eventually cross paths in one way or another. The characters are vividly painted, and as far as I know, it's fairly historically accurate. It's an incredible work of women's history and contributions to the war effort, as well as a very strong novel. I've read thi...more
Ruth
World War II was the leitmotif of my childhood, bracketed by my memories of Pearl Harbor Day ( “Go outside and play, children. We’re listening to the radio.”) and VJ Day, when a parade of cars jammed Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. The photo of a dead American Marine half-buried in the sands of a Pacific Island is an image I’ve carried with me all my life.

So I was predisposed to read this book. It’s a big, fat, old-fashioned novel with a myriad of characters and plots, held together by the War,...more
Jill
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I don't know if it's partly because I read it as I traveled around England with my mother many years ago, but I do remember trying to ration it, dreading coming to the end and not having these people in my life anymore. I love Marge Piercy's writing style and her books are always incredibly well-researched - or at least they seem to be, as I feel as if I'm living in the time of the book. This one takes place during WWII (see - told you I like that perio...more
Mary JL
Mar 13, 2010 Mary JL rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historical fiction fans/ Historians also
Recommended to Mary JL by: None--found while browsing
Shelves: fiction-classics
A rarity, my friends--five stars. I seldom give that but a few books deserve it and this is one.
Marge Piercy has taken ten major characters--six women and four men--and written a superb novel of the homefornt during World War II. She gives a very excellent portrayal of the hardships faced at home. Waiting to get a letter from the loved one overseas. The stringent rationing of gas, sugar and many other items. The rumors. The good times and the bad. The seperation of families. The political tensio...more
Lynn
Amazing book. Follows a myriad of characters through World War II. Americans, French citizens, Jews and Gentiles. Citizens, prisoners, and soldiers. Lots of points of view to consider. 700 pages long and more than worth the read. I will truly miss some of these characters. I wish Marge Piercy would follow up on some of them - most especially Bernice, Naomi, and Jacqueline.
Dennis
This book ruined me for all Marge Piercy novels to come because none have matched it in my opinion as a sheer tour-de-force of World War 2 as seen through various eyes. The strength shown by the characters was amazing and there were parts that really tore me apart. a definite re-read in the future.
Anne
Very good epic read, though a bit slow at times. Marge Piercy is phenomenal at characterization . She uses this skill well by telling the stories of 10 people and how their lives take shape over the course of WW11 and it's aftermath.
Dottie
No clue when I first read this nor how many times I've read it since then nor how many copies I still own nor how many I've given away to friends and family. It's that good in my opinion and Piercy is one of my favorite writers.
Wendy Kobylarz-Chouvarda
I have to rewrite my review. I haven't read this book in 20 years, and started re-reading it early this month. My how things change.
While I like Piercy's writing and her characterizations and setting are very strong, I was totally blown away by the fact that just about every single character -- and there are many characters in this novel -- is involved with some kind of animal exploitation. This is probably not something a non-vegan would notice, and I recognize that animal exploitation has his...more
Mia Tryst
GONE TO SOLDIERS is a timeless story about WWII that proves once again why Marge Piercy is a masterful story teller. A 770-page novel encompassing the lives of eight major characters and two minor, but no less important characters, Duvey and Murray, it's an epic story spanning the critical war years between 1939-1945. GONE TO SOLDIERS is more than a story about war and its atrocities; that is, it's not gorified guts and glory - sure there are plenty of searingly, painful scenes (and you'll feel...more
Meredith
It was interesting to read this novel in parallel with a re-read of The Winds of War [Wouk]. I have read Wouk's book many times and thought I would see what a different novelist could do with the subject. Not as deep a read as Wouk's, Piercy's book was nonetheless an enjoyable read...she is a good writer and the book showed some depth of historical research although not so broad as Winds of War. Her characters are also more superficial than Wouk's, although overall more pleasant...kind of WWI Li...more
Barbara
What an unbelievable novel! I am not surprised that the research took seven years. Marge Piercy has tremendous skill at making every day, ordinary people real and their stories compelling. It is a long and complex novel. There are 10 main characters, all of whom are followed over several years. I learned so much from this novel about the World War II era here and abroad. I was a youngster at the time and recognized some of the elements (such as food stamps and victory gardens) but there was much...more
Steve
This is a good book. Probably better than the 3 rating I gave it. Probably not as good as the ridiculously high cumulative response. The skinny here is that this is a story about a variety of peoples experiences during the World War II years. Its heavily focused on women, jews and, oddly enough, socialists. Apparently pre-war everyone was a socialist. The strongest aspect about the tale is that it tells the story that not so frequently told. Most WW II stories center on the soldiers, particularl...more
Coquille Fleur
I've read ALL of her books and this one is definitely my favorite of all time. Be prepared to cry your eyes out. World War II was intense no matter where you lived and this book shows all kinds of people who may or may not survive it... From the resistance gueurrilla fighters to the women on the assembly lines, this book shows the multi-faceted world that existed for women in the early 1940's. Gingembre is my favorite warrior spirit in a literary work. Worth reading just for her.
Jennifer
This epic novel about roughly a dozen people's interrelated WWII experiences is one of my all-time favorites. Like in all of Piercy's works, the characters feel so realistic and evolve so convincingly you won't believe they don't actually exist. The story's research and craft impress me more every time I read it. The book is quite long, but if you are going to read just one novel about WWII this is the one to pick.
Margie
I am, perhaps, easily impressed by writers who can manage a large number of story lines well. Marge Piercy shows how it should be done in this rich novel, which covers years, continents, and quite a few characters.

I especially appreciated that although some characters had happy endings, an equal number had unresolved or indifferently resolved endings.
Bill
Jan 04, 2010 Bill rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
By far and away the best novel I have ever read. It has the breadth of War and Peace but the characters are much more alive and the treatment of men and women is so much more real. When I finished the book, I truly felt like I had lived 9 different lives right through World War II.

A Masterpiece!
Marisa
This book was the best WWII novel that I have ever read. It had a huge pool of rich, well-developed characters who brought disparate experiences of the war to life, and I could barely put it down. I would recommend it to everyone! Marge Piercy never ceases to amaze me.
Trisha
Of the many WWII novels I’ve read, this is one of the best – possibly because it encompasses what’s going on from multiple narrative points of view and covers the war from many angles. The novel intertwines the stories of at least eight major characters all of whom are dealing with the uncertainty and danger of the war but in different places and from different perspectives. Because the action continually shifts back and forth from one location to the other - the War in the Pacific, the fate of...more
Cathy Benedetto
In the 1980s, while writing and editing a newsletter for the WMST program at the University of Maryland, College Park, I interviewed a woman professor who had done research on women in the military. I was surprised at how fascinating the subject was. Shortly afterwards I came across this novel, which I really enjoyed. I just found the title again and am looking forward to re-reading it.

I liked that this novel featured several very strong, independent women. 30 years later, I remember them as se...more
Vikki VanSickle
I don't re-read books very often, but this is a book I can read over and over again. It is in my permanent top ten and is one of my most recommended books. I loved it so much I adapted part of it into a play in second year University that was produced at a festival of new work. This book is so much more than 'just another WWII story,' it is an incredibly well-imagined and developed tapestry of a number of individuals from all walks of life during the second world war. A young French actress who...more
Sarah
Jul 12, 2011 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: wwii
Really good. Interesting characters, structured plot, and included tons of historical detail without seeming clumsy about it. WWII is a beast of a subject, but this book managed to cover a lot of it thoughtfully - from combat, resistance, refugee, American, French, Jewish, female, male perspectives...it's pretty impressive.

Took off a star because the beginning was a little slow, and the prose was just a little bit awkward in some parts. Also, the version I read was one of those paperbacks that l...more
Melody
Wow. This book was spectacular. I genuinely cared about the characters (whether I liked them or in some cases quite didn't) and they were written so honestly and accurately, at times I would think "I should look this person up to find out more about their life" as if they were real people! It sounds from the epilogue like Piercy put a massive amount of research into this book, and I think that is part of why the stories are so compelling. Also, Piercy writes about women's lives with such incredi...more
Lorrie
I just finished this book yesterday and it is a lot to digest. I'm not sure if it should get a 3 or 4 star rating but I'm being positive today and going with the 4. One thing is for sure: it will stick with me for a long time.

Positives: interesting characters, great storylines for all the characters, WWII history presented in an interesting way, the story moved along quickly, well written. I liked how the home front was included into the war effort because the women/families in the States certai...more
R. Honey
I read this book before sometime in the 1990's. Before I starting my BOB. Book of books!

This time it took me over a year to read it as it was my upstairs book when the current hard cover was too heavy or a purse book as my copy is paperback.

I did remember all the characters and some of the incidents that happened to them. This is a sprawling novel that covers all of the years of World War 2 with many characters from all arenas who were impacted by this war:
A Jewish translator of Japanese transmi...more
Rachel
Semi-entertaining read, but the feministic worldview of the author was distracting. The women had more of a 2000's mindset than 40's, and it just didn't read realistically. Some would do and say things that would've worked in an episode of Sex and the City. I understand that the WWII era was an important time for women's independence, but in my opinion, the book didn't accurately portray the difficult aspects of the transition for women in society. The men were mostly pigs and thought of nothing...more
C.
Aug 16, 2014 C. is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been sitting on my shelves for years, and now that I have something of an idea of who Marge Piercy is, I'm finally reading it. So far, I'm afraid her prose does not compare favourably to Margaret Atwood's (which I was reading just previously), but as this is true of more or less anyone it shouldn't really be taken as a criticism.
Melanie
I really enjoy an epic historical novel with in depth character building. And I was thoroughly engrossed in this story and the history of it. But at times I did feel a bit of a modern (er the 1980s but still modem) lens for the characters. I definitely recommend it however.
Paul Courtney
I loved it. The story centered on a Jewish family in the US with men at war in both the European and Pacific theaters. My father never talked about his experiences in the South Pacific, as part of the horrendous "mopping-up" operations, taking back territory one small island at a time; Piercy's portrayal of the god-awfulness of a soldier's life really helped me to understand my father's own unwillingness to recall memories from that time. This was not a glorious war. It was like a street brawl i...more
Galen Johnson
The story of World War II is told from the perspective of women in the US and in France, and men who fought or served in ways other than on the European front—in the Pacific, as spies, and in the merchant marine. A variety of characters, from a young French woman who loses her family and serves as a guide getting children out of France before being taken to a concentration camp, a young woman serving in the WASP as a pilot, a young man who leaves his lover to serve in the East Pacific, all deal...more
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Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers, a sweeping historical novel set during World War II.

Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a family deeply affected by the Great Depression. She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Winning a...more
More about Marge Piercy...
Woman on the Edge of Time He, She and It The Moon Is Always Female: Poems Sex Wars: A Novel of Gilded Age New York City of Darkness, City of Light

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“Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding, the third” 8 likes
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