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Beneath a Scarlet Sky

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  271,235 ratings  ·  20,433 reviews

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family ho

Paperback, 509 pages
Published May 1st 2017 by Lake Union Publishing
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Michael Lella I'm his son and he is living and well in Lesa Italy. Flattered and honored by the phenomenal reviews the book has been receiving...…moreI'm his son and he is living and well in Lesa Italy. Flattered and honored by the phenomenal reviews the book has been receiving...(less)
Brad Weston The afterward makes most of this all clear -- the vast majority of this is true with the author filling in the gaps as much as possible given lack of …moreThe afterward makes most of this all clear -- the vast majority of this is true with the author filling in the gaps as much as possible given lack of records for individual conversations or specific events. All of the people in the book apparently did exist as the author recounts their lives post-story in the afterward. An extraordinary story to be sure.(less)

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Average rating 4.39  · 
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 ·  271,235 ratings  ·  20,433 reviews

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2ish stars.

Based on the experiences of Pino Lella, an unsung WWII hero, the events at the heart of this book are incredible and inspiring. Sullivan, though obviously well-meaning, presents them here in what is more or less a bloated, commercialized, color-by-number hagiography.

Somehow present at just about as many significant events during WWII as one can be, Pino deftly overcomes every obstacle in his path. While - again - incredible and inspiring, there's not much in the way of tension or susp
Emily May
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical, 2017
2 1/2 stars. This was nowhere near as engaging as I would expect from a book that has a 4.4 average rating over 48,000+ readers.

The strength of Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes from it's exploration of the Italian experience under Mussolini during the Second World War. I know almost nothing about what happened here, despite having read A LOT of books and memoirs set during this time. I've read countless tales about the Germans, Polish, the British and the Americans, so it was extremely refreshing to
Always Pouting
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I know I've been gone, but I'm back now so don't worry I'll be clogging your feeds with my garbage reviews again now. I already started reading my next book.

A semi biographical story about an Italian teenager Pino Lella who is sent to a convent after Allied forces airstrike destroys his home in Milan. At the convent he helps the priest smuggle out Jews to Switzerland who have come there for help. He meets and falls in love with Anna, an older widow. Eventually he is called home and made to join
One feature of every hugely engaging novel is that it’s palpable throughout that the author has invested a great deal of heart and imagination into the narrative. This is far from always the case. There’s sometimes a sense an author is fulfilling a contractual obligation or is never quite inspired by his/her characters or story. This is one of those novels where it’s obvious the author has thrown himself heart and soul into his material and achieved an imaginative identification with its hero so ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book about WWII in Italy. I’ve read so much about Northern Europe during the war, but this is the first book about what took place in Italy. It follows the story of a real life teenager, beginning in 1943 when he guides Jews over the mountain pass to Switzerland and through the events that have him end up as a spy for the Allies.

The story is well told and engaging. The characters seem real. Too often, historical characters come across as wooden or two dimensional, as if th
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
what a comfort it is to know that, even in the most desperate and tragically unfathomable of circumstances, courage and love are possible and can be found.

but what i enjoyed most about this story is how it educated me on the impact of WWII in italy. italy is rarely the focus for novels on the subject - even though the jewish community of italy was greatly affected, it is hardly ever talked about due to the massive destruction of documents and records, as well as the collective amnesia of italia
LeAnne: GeezerMom
My 14 year old is a military history buff, and I'm pretty sure he will enjoy this simple work of historical fiction set in WWII Italy. Me? Not so much.

GOOD STUFF: I learned that groups of Italians - loosely organized by priests and archbishops of the Catholic church - were active in smuggling Jewish refugees over the Alps and into Switzerland to keep them out of the Nazi reach. Getting a feel for the timeline of the German presence in Italy and how it was marked by milestones of Allied advancem
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This is a 3 1/2 rounded up to a 4 because the story is about a real person and there is some good history here and obvious meticulous research.

I thought the writing was good and it flowed well but more editing would definitely have helped. There was too much detailed information about every single trip that Pino drove for the General. There also seemed to be a lot of "close calls" in situations that Pino found himself in. I would like to know if this is all true or based on memory?

This review i
May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
The story of Pino Lella is amazing. The writing of Mark Sullivan is dreadful. It reads like it was written by a sixth grader, full of cliches and bad metaphors. I brought this book on vacation and was so excited to read it based on the description on the back cover. What a disappointment.
Terri Lynn
This was beautifully written. The events really happened but the author had to add conversations that the subject obviously could not remember decades later word for word. I liked seeing the Holocaust from the viewpoint of what happened in Italy. Most books include little if anything about the suffering that both Mussolini and Hitler wreaked on Italians, both Jews and non-Jews. An amazing book I highly recommend.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Although I read it quickly, Beneath a Scarlet Sky did not live up to the beauty of its cover. This was recommended to me so that's mostly why I finished it. I should not have read my Goodreads friends' reviews because they were very critical.

One reason they were, which I think is the most damning is that although it's purported to be the true life story of Pino Lella, a hero of WW 2, there is little supporting evidence for his story and some of the incidents the author reports seem unlikely to
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
4.5 stars rounded up for a fascinating story of a young Italian teenager in Milan, Italy during WWII. In 1943, Pino Lella is 17 and only interested in girls, his friends and family. But the war intervenes, and his parents send him to a mountain home for boys run by Roman Catholic priests. There, Father Re instructs him to take long hikes in the mountains, along specific routes, many of which are close to the Swiss border. Soon Father Re explains to Pino that he wants him to guide Jewish refugee ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars. Beneath a Scarlet Sky gets high marks for telling an interesting story about Italy at the end of WWII. It gets middling marks from me for the delivery. Author Mark T. Sullivan has written a fictionalized account of Pino Selle's Iife during the last year of WWII. Pino was an 18 year old Italian boy compelled to enlist as a German soldier by his family in occupied Milan -- this is how they thought he could stay safe. He ended up working as a driver for a high ranking Nazi officer statio ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Beneath a Scarlet Sky, Mark T. Sullivan

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He's a normal Italian teenager - obsessed with music, food, and girls - but his days of innocence are numbered.

When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping
Jonathan Isakoff
This book brought me to tears

This is far and away one of the best books ever on Kindle First. It's a riveting story of love and righteousness. I won't give away more than that. If you want to know the perspective of an Italian during World War II, this is worth the read.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, adult-reads
What a life Pino Lella! What a life!

That one man can have endured so much, achieved so much and yet also be such an unknown boggles the mind. The book was part biography, part fiction because even with extensive research there were many unanswered questions about this horrendous time in Italy's history. I knew little about Italy's WWII story and found this story to be eye opening. The book took me a long time to read. It was one that I found myself having to put down and walk away from because
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
3 neutral stars

The book synopsis sums up the first 35% of the novel really well. Therefore, I am not going to summarize the plot here. I didn't hate Beneath a Scarlet Sky, but I didn't really love this book either. I did love the cover, the title, and that this was a WWII era book situated in Italy. Most of the books I read are heavy on the France/Poland narrative and I appreciated the different angle. I will say that it was refreshing to have a male protagonist be shown in a very different li
Maine Colonial
Feb 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's mind boggling how bad this book is. The author wants to have it both ways, saying in one place that it's fiction, then saying it "hews closely" to fact and, in the Afterward, writing as if it was all true. You can't have it both ways.

Actually, though, either way it has the same problems, in that the writing is juvenile and the story made me laugh out loud numerous times with how absurd it is. I had to start taking notes just to keep track of the astonishing coincidences and cartoonish tale
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: love, war
Lives are lost during wars. We know this. Others are forever changed because of them, as family and friends do not return home, for many the reason is never known. Love can also begin, but then sometimes it's stolen before it has the chance to fully blossom. And there are also the stories of unaccountable bravery. Men and women who give or try, even if only a little, to fight oppression and wrong. Very often, much more than a little was given. And with those, there are stories that are forgotten ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The vocabulary and sentence structure seem geared toward about fifth grade.
As the boys moved on, Mimo limped along while rubbing his right hip and complaining. But Pino was barely listening. A tawny-blond woman with slate-blue eyes was coming down the sidewalk right at them. He guessed her to be in her early twenties. She was beautifully put together, with a gentle nose, high cheekbones, and lips that curled naturally into an easy smile. Svelte and of medium height, she wore a yellow summer dre
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterful tale of a young man’s courageous struggle to fight for the greater good during the Nazi occupation of Milan during World War II.

Although a work of fiction this novel is based on a true story with a real hero. At the heart of the story is a normal seventeen-year-old Italian boy named Pino Lella. He is obsessed with music, finding a girl, and falling in love. But then in 1943, the bombs start dropping on Milan and his family home is destroyed. His parents send him to a camp in th
Lewis Weinstein
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a magnificent read from beginning to end, and past the end to the epilogue that tells what happened to all the real-life characters ... action, emotion, reflection, mystery, suspense, passion ... bigger than life in many ways but still believable ... a very well-structured and well-written story based on true events not recorded until 70+ years after ...

UPDATE *** As is my habit, I did not read the other GR reviews before writing my own ... Wow, was I surprised ... the diversity of opini
A powerful book, that ai highly recommend. I have read many books on this subject but none from the viewpoint of Italy. An excellent read.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, book-club, 2019
5 STARS for content and 3 STARS for the writing.
Rounding up to 4 STARS on this one!

What an impressive history of survival, grief and love!

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is based on the true story of Pino Lella who lived in Milan, Italy and was a spy for the Allies. Before he was a spy, he was working underground and helping Jews escape over the Alps. After doing this for a year or two, his parents forced him to enlist as a German soldier.

In order to strike back against his Italian parents, he decides to
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2018
I enjoyed this suspenseful World War II story set in Italy under Nazi occupation. I love WWII fiction and don't believe I have ever read a book from the Italian perspective. The author makes it clear in the preface that this is not a biography or historical novel, but a work of fiction based on the life of Pino Lella. With that firmly in my mind, I didn't really mind Sullivan's embellishments to Lella's story, although it did seem as though Lella was personally present at every single significan ...more
Stephanie Anze
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pino Lella was a typical teenager coming of age in Milan when the Nazis started their rampage. Afraid for their safety, Pino and his brother Mimo were sent by their parents to the countryside to Casa Alpina (a school for boys run by Catholic priests). Pino though can not sit idly and soon is involved in the underground resistance helping Jews get to Switzerland. Almost eighteen years old, Pino is signed up with the German army and unexpectadly finds a job as a driver for General Hans Leyers, Hit ...more
My Opinion:
This was a brilliantly written, and brutally honest book of one man's life in WW2. He went from being a child to becoming a man, a spy, a friend, and a lover. This tale is so emotional and heart wrenching that you can't help but fall in love with every minute of this book. WOW, just WOW. I can't even imagine going and doing any of these things. This was so well written and the tale told so well and with such emotion, it left me speechless. I don't even know how to explain this book or
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Re-read for book club.
What a great read!
Based on the true story of a forgotten hero. Pino Lella, as a teen, is sent to the Alps by his parents to help him escape war-torn Milan where he gets involved in leading Jewish refugees to safety in Switzerland. When back in Milan he is recruited to spy on the activities of a high ranking Nazi officer, as his driver.
This story chronicles the suffering of Italians during WWII and some of their courageous resistance activities.
A well-written, engrossing sto
Kim Kaso
This was available on Kindle First, and sounded like a fresh take on WW II for me. Both the subject of the novel, a young man who actually lived through these extraordinary times and experiences, and the author had compelling stories, and it caught my interest. I bought it in book form as there are many people with whom I wish to share this, and found myself reading way too late into the night as I needed to know what happened next. I cared deeply about the characters, and I was engaged by the d ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
3 I so wished I could have loved it stars
5 stars for the bravery that Pino and others showed

This should have been a book I adored. It had all the elements of what I so enjoy in my books, heroes, World War 2, courage, nobility in the face of devastation and yet this novel left me feeling oddly displeased.

This is the story of a seventeen year old young man living in Italy during the war. He is sent away because his parents fear for his and his bother's safety. They are sent to a school in the Alps
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Mark T. Sullivan (b. 1958) is an author of thrillers. Born in a Boston suburb, he joined the Peace Corp after college, traveling to West Africa to live with a tribe of Saharan nomads. Upon returning to the United States, he took a job at Reuters, beginning a decade-long career in journalism that would eventually lead to a job as an investigative reporter for the San Diego Tribune.

Sullivan spent th

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“You know, my young friend, I will be ninety years old next year, and life is still a constant surprise to me. We never know what will happen next, what we will see, and what important person will come into our life, or what important person we will lose. Life is change, constant change, and unless we are lucky enough to find comedy in it, change is nearly always a drama, if not a tragedy. But after everything, and even when the skies turn scarlet and threatening, I still believe that if we are lucky enough to be alive, we must give thanks for the miracle of every moment of every day, no matter how flawed.” 102 likes
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