…a short, bleakly brilliant one-act drama depicting the futility and moral complexity of combat…As in his earlier fiction, Bausch is adept at capturing the cadences of everyday American speech, and the questioning of ordinary, decent men. His tense, economic prose chimes with the precise, laconic language of soldiers. The worst writing about war is either black-and-white or Technicolor. The best, like this, is in shades of gray, evoking the personal equivocations, the doubts, the discomfort and the sheer, crushing boredom and fatigue that constitute the real nature of war.
The New York Times
Richard Bausch is best known as a master of the short story. And Peace is so short and tightly packed that it reads more like an extended short story than a novel. It's a fable about war and redemption, an episode more than a full narrative. Bausch draws his characters with deft strokes and dashes of color, rather than in the rich tapestry of longer fiction. If a novel can be said to create its own world, this one evokes a world that's already in our heads. The images are allusive, fleeting, not quite explained.
The Washington Post
Michael Kramer brings life to the three young American soldiers, trudging their way up a mountain near Cassino, Italy in the winter of 1944, in Bausch's acclaimed novel. The reading is at a laidback pace, which works well when combined with Bausch's slightly terse and straightforward writing. With only slight shifts in tone for each character, Kramer relies on the honesty of his voice and his ability to capture the essence of every human emotion. When the characters are exhausted, downbeat and depressed, the listener can feel it; when they argue amongst themselves, the audience will feel like entering the fray. Kramer brings the listener along for the journey and a memorable one it is. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 25). (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Bausch is best known for his short stories, but this powerful novella demonstrates his skill at spare language and tight construction. In the winter of 1944, a group of seven young American GIs slogs through the freezing rain near Cassino in southern Italy. The Italian government has fallen and the Germans are retreating northward. The Americans have just summarily executed a Nazi officer and his female companion, and they argue about whether it was the right thing to do. Marson, the group's leader, remembers promising his father that he would do his duty, but the words have lost their meaning in the fog of war. Scared and lost, they enlist the help of an elderly Italian, who leads them up a steep mountainside. Almost immediately they encounter enemy fire. Has the Italian betrayed them, and, if he has, what should they do about it? Like Matthew Eck's recent The Farther Shore, Bausch's book demonstrates that regardless of the geographical setting or historical period, all war stories are now fundamentally about Iraq. Recommended for most fiction collections.
Edward B. St. John
The experiences of battle fatigue and constant exposure to mortal danger are depicted with raw immediacy and terse power in this short novel from veteran Bausch (Thanksgiving Night, 2006, etc.). The book describes the ordeal of a "recon squad" lost in a mountainous area of Italy in the waning war year of 1944. The squad loses several of its men and things unravel further when a hard-bitten sergeant shoots to death both a German soldier and the woman hiding with him in a Nazi tank. Three soldiers struggle on alone: Boston Jew Saul Asch, embittered redneck Benny Joyner and their leader, Corporal Robert Marson, an ingenuous young husband and father, a once promising baseball player and a virtually prototypical "good American." This sounds like a generic war-movie scenario, and there are echoes of Stephen Crane, James Jones and particularly William Styron's The Long March. But Bausch sustains a gripping atmosphere of wintry dread, and he keeps the reader hooked with subtly accreting little surprises, as Marson and his small crew appropriate the services of an aging Italian farmer, Angelo, to guide them up and down the treacherous mountainside. Is Angelo a "fascisti"? In bits of broken English the old man vigorously denies accusations hurled at him by the distrustful Joyner-as Marson, tortured by a painful foot injury and burdened with authority he wields only reluctantly, labors to keep them all together. Then, the body of a presumably "executed" German soldier is discovered, repeated rifle shots that can only mean one horrific thing are heard and Marson's survival skills and resolve are put to ultimate physical and moral tests. Bausch admirably turns a familiar story into something genuinelynew. Agent: Henry Dunow/Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. First Printing of 35,000
"Every single word of Richard Bausch's beautiful, spare new novel Peace rings darkly, tragically true." Richard Russo