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Miracle at St. Anna

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,371 Ratings  ·  343 Reviews
James McBride's powerful memoir, The Color of Water, was a publishing phenomenon, spending more than two years on the New York Times bestsellers list and becoming required reading in high schools and colleges across the country. Now, in his long-awaited second book, McBride turns his highly acclaimed talent as a storyteller to fiction.

Based on the historical incident of an
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published January 28th 2002 by Riverhead Books (first published 2001)
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Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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,
Apr 14, 2008 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
Brian DiMattia
Apr 10, 2010 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
Feb 14, 2009 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
Although this is a work of fiction, the book was inspired by actual events from "... the collected experiences of black soldiers who served in the Serchio Valley and Apuane Alps of Italy during WWII."

Beautifully written. A compulsive read: another one I couldn't put down.
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Miracle at St. Anna - Nevisande : James McBride - ISBN : 1573229717 - ISBN13 : 9781573229715 - Dar 336 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2001
Apr 27, 2010 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,
Oct 07, 2008 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
Jun 29, 2009 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 15, 2009 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
May 31, 2012 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
P.S. Winn
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good war story that takes place during world war 2 and tells of the Buffalo soldiers and what they endured.
Nov 21, 2013 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
Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sherie by: Brooke
This is my second book by McBride and he continues to impress. The Buffalo Soldiers are so named by the American Indians, because their nappy hair reminded them of their beloved bison's mane. They have been around since the late l800's doing detail work that no white man would sully their hand with and had become a fixture in the American armed services for doing what white folks would not.
The story is about a detail of four men standed during a surge, where, without the support of their white
Leah Beecher
I read this one several years ago and somehow it slipped through the cracks of my goodreads review, as sometimes happens. I just finished James McBride's Song Yet Sung, and was reminded that I read this. Like all his other books, it takes a look at what it means to be black at an important time of history. The writing is excellent, the story very memorable, and the theme spiritual without out being heavy-handed Christian-lit genre. Spike Lee has since made it into a movie. A movie I have never s ...more
May 20, 2009 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 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.
Steven Belanger
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptionally well-written war novel, part gritty realism, part magic realism (but not like Garcia Marquez, or Rushdie, who are more fantasy/magic realism), that has an interesting book-ending frame story that just manages to stay on this side of overly sentimental. Based on a real incident, and on a real WWII black regiment, it has a lot to say about war, about race relations (then and, sadly, now) and about basic human decency. I'd say tolerance, but even that word sounds condescending, like y ...more
Nachelle Butler
This is another one of the books that was on my class list this semester and the one that I was actually interested in reading. We finished it in, maybe two weeks? It was even more amazing then I thought it would be. James McBride is a beautiful writer who makes the reader feel like they are right there along with the characters. He gives a lot of background information and insight into what Italy was like during that time in World War II, but it never feels boring or text book like.

The charact
Roger Stone
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on a true events from World War II in Tuscany, Italy. Story is about a group of black soldiers and all their attendant racial issues, facing civilian and partisan Italians and German soldiers who have never seen a black man. Some parts are very graphic but realistic and certainly verifiable. I thought the story was well written but 'enjoyed' isn't the right word - depressed comes closer, realizing how cruel humans can be to each other. There is also an eponymous 2008 film - doesn't leave a ...more
Sian Nicholas
It was beautifully written and very evocative. It shared the story of the 92nd battalion, a battalion of African-American soldiers and the discrimination and hostility they faced as they fought in the Second World War. It centres around the rescue of a small Italian boy and the subsequent flight of the soldier who saved him and their arrival in a small Italian village that recently experienced a massacre at the hands of the SS.
As beautifully written as it was, I didn't quite grasp the miracle of
Gary Lindsay
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is set in Italy near the end of WWII. Author James McBride's characterization of several individuals in the United States Army's Negro 92nd Division is deep and rich. The story focuses not so much on the heroism of these Buffalo soldiers but more on circumstances that led them into a situation where the greatest heroism would not be enough. The Buffalo soldiers's story is one everyone ought to know, and this tale is so engaging that you'll be glad you read it.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This author made the characters in this book come alive. I laughed with them. Got angry with them. Felt betrayed with them. The issue of race was captured vividly but the book also provided little hints of hope in humanity. The way the author told the story and intertwined the history of the characters and then brought you back the present was awesome. This was a Great Read.
LaShana Avery
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was difficult to read because of the subject matter. I kept coming back because of Train and his ability to love and keep his faith. The book is of course more fleshed out than the movie but it didn't deviate too strongly.
Enjoyed by all, although some felt the book's details were sketchy and the plotting too slow. It was interesting trying to identify all the "miracles" that occur (I think we found 12 or so). An easy read, though unfulfilling and too simplistic for some. (15)
Pam Kirst
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't exactly the kind of feel-good story I expected when I started this book before Christmas, but it was definitely worth the read.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 points really.
In many ways a decent book. Exciting, moving, interesting ...and then the author tries to be deep and it's just not working. It was just so trite and lame I was not feeling it at all.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great author, a great book. Again, another completely different perspective on their WW2 experience. It is a work of fiction, but based on a true incident.
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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 ...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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