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Rarely in life do we learn of unknown men and women who lived extraordinary lives far bigger than any Hollywood creation. Pino Lella is such a man. This story is based on actual, documented events in WW2 a 17 -18 year old Pino experienced.
We are introduced to Pino in the last two years of WW2. As the author points out, little is written in fiction or non-fiction about the virtual German occupation of Italy. Politically the two countries were considered allies, but in reality it was the German Army controlling Itialian forces as well as political policies. Mussolini was under house arrest by 1944-45, guarded by Germans. The country may have looked Fascist to the world, but its peoples were deeply divided politically between Fascist, Nazi, Communist and Democratic Populists.
Pino was and remains an upbeat, confident and humble man. Like most people who lived and fought in WW2, he reluctantly shared his story after over 50 years silence. In the two years he was active, he led jewish families to Sweden, joined the Nazi army as a spy, and was the driver for the highest ranking General in Italy. He served as the General's interpreter to Mussolini, and actually met him on numerous occasions. Keep in mind Pino was 18 when war ended.
The story is as complicated as Italy's politics were at the time. In under two years, Lella falls in love, becomes a hero by risking his life to save several Jewish families, joins the German Army to be a spy, is forsaken as a traitor to his friends and family and suffers tremendous loss through it all.
The writing and narration is eloquent and seemless. This is one of the best books Audible has to offer.
161 of 168 people found this review helpful
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I'm a daily listener to audiobooks while I commute. This book was SO good at captivating me and making mental images that it was almost too distracting to my driving!So in short, I dont write many reviews, but I LOVED this book...the story was great, the narrator was top-flight with excellent charachter portrayals, and the slice of life & time during WWII in N Italy satisfied the history buff in me. It really was as good or better than alot of fiction, but it was all true!
92 of 97 people found this review helpful
What a fantastic story I couldn’t stop listening. An incredible insight into the war in Italy although heart breaking at times. Pino and his family have much to be proud of.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
The story of an AMAZING man! Made my heart pound, made me cry, laugh, sigh, angry, sad, afraid, horrified: the whole gamut of human emotions, more or less! Inspires me to live MY life “con smania” (with passion)!
Very well read, & performed, that adds SO MUCH MORE to the story than just reading alone: brings Pino to LIFE, in all his charm.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I had not been aware this was a true story and assumed this was a mere fabrication/device, powerful as this appeared to be. To discover this was all true and then consider its consequences makes this both a harrowing and rather terrible history of this poor mans youth and life. This malevolence and cruelty affected allies and enemies alike.
I read so many books about war. Many novels about the brutality made only more real by the loss of people that are loved. Initially one feels lucky that we are not embedded in all this today and then, on reflection we know that all around us we still are. How many new and terrible stories may one day emerge from Ethiopia, Sudan, Timor, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria (and others). We remain powerless to prevent harm to the innocent despite such evidence. This is only made more complicated today by the equally brutal and indiscriminate phenomenon of terrorism. We need these histories (and novels) - not weapons - to remind us of the pain and futility of these wars and focus their avoidance, difficult as this seems. An ‘eye for an eye’ does not work.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was in awe of the courage involved by the characters. Thank you for sharing your story and spreading hope.