Sergeant in the Snowby Mario Rigoni Stern
Mario Rigoni Stern was barely twenty-one - and already a battle veteran - at the time of the hallucinatory World War II disaster searchingly described in this book. In July 1942, the Italian forces in Russia totaled 230,000 men. They included three divisions of Alpini troops, specially trained for winter warfare; the author of this book belonged to one of these, the… See more details below
Mario Rigoni Stern was barely twenty-one - and already a battle veteran - at the time of the hallucinatory World War II disaster searchingly described in this book. In July 1942, the Italian forces in Russia totaled 230,000 men. They included three divisions of Alpini troops, specially trained for winter warfare; the author of this book belonged to one of these, the Tridentina. In December, the troops began retreating, entirely on foot, with no supplies, at a temperature of 30-40 degrees below zero. Many of the troops, overcome by exhaustion, broke away from the column; others were cut off and captured by the Russians, others lost in the steppes. In the end, about 90,000 were missing or dead, about 45,000 frostbitten and wounded. This narrative, together with his novel The Story of Tonle and several other works, paints a broad fresco of Italy's history in this century, chronicling social and political change so radical and profound that it has touched even those in such secluded provincial communities as that which Rigoni Stern has so masterfully described.
- Northwestern University Press
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- 5.00(w) x 7.25(h) x 0.60(d)
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We always hear the German version of the Eastern Front in that the Italian front collapsed and they fled. Rigoni tells of the coolness and bravery of the men. When they realized they were trapped, they dismantled every gun and retooled and tempered the springs in the guns to work in the below freezing weather. I felt like I was with the Alpini who had to fight their way out of the encirclement. It certainly wasn't a rout like the history books depict. The book is well written but the regional dialect and sense of the unit is preserved by word choice and syntax. Rigoni's unit retreated with a German panzer unit and the fighting was fierce, but Rigoni tells about this with great humanity. He tells of Ukranians who fed the Italians and Germans. He entered a hut where Soviet soldiers were eating and the woman told him to put his gun down; he sat and ate with the Soviets. He tells how the Germans busted doors down and charged into homes, while the Italians knocked and entered while apologizing. When the Alpini CO found out how many men he had lost, he died from a broken heart.