Richard Bausch, Author . Knopf $19.95 (171p) ISBN 978-0-307-26833-4

An abrupt and chilling act of violence opens Bauch's 11th novel, marking the beginning of a bleak but compelling meditation on the moral dimensions of warfare. Cpl. Robert Marson is trudging up an Italian hillside, leading two of his men on an uncertain mission through the unrelenting winter of 1944. The soldiers are haunted by the cold-blooded murder by their sergeant, Glick, of a woman on the Italian roadside, and highly suspicious of the Italian farmer they have enlisted to act as a guide in their scouting mission. Snipers loom along their path, and the immediate fear of death seeps into each tantalizing memory of home. Equivocation between the absurdity of an unreported murder and the inevitability of killing as a means of survival drives the troops' despairing, profanity-laced banter as the meaninglessness of their mission becomes clear. The peace of the title is glimpsed only fleetingly, throwing into relief the stark, indiscriminate nature of war. Bausch's compassion for Marson and his men is evident, but his story is unforgiving; the tightly paced final scenes offer no clarity of purpose in a dark war story of unyielding sorrow. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/25/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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