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Extended Audio Sample A Bell for Adano, by John Hersey Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,561 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Hersey Narrator: David Green Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In 1943, the American Major Victor Joppolo finds himself the civil affairs officer, the mayor of a small town in Sicily. Equipped with the rule book, How to Bring American Democracy to Liberated Territories, he sets about bringing choices to a people whose every recent activity had been dictated. Asking them what the town needs most, he is answered: give the town back its spirit, a bell to replace the seven hundred-year-old one that was melted down for bullets by fascists.

The major soon discovers that he may not be able to guarantee democracy for the ancient town but he can do something about the bell. His story is one of humanity in the midst of war’s cruelty and conviction in a maze of military bureaucracy.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A well-written, fun, and, at times, serious and deeply disturbing story…Dogmatically recommended.”

    New Yorker

  • “The pictures of the place and the people are masterly, rich in humor and humanity and utter conviction.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1945

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Amber | 2/13/2014

    " I really enjoyed reading this novel. John Hersey brings the characters to life through vivid descriptions. He tells a great story about the Italians and the Americans coming together through major Joppolo after WWII. The major is a very kind and respected man and Hersey does a great job descrbing his great attributes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Adam | 1/29/2014

    " A war book that is not a war book, this book is surprisingly sweet! I fell in love with the Sergeant. I suppose Hersey is the ant-vonnegut, because he's so optimistic, sometimes he's a bit cock-eyed. And I couldn't shake the fact that he portrayed the Italian locals as being slightly ignorant--at the same time I found this novel to be quite affecting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jane | 1/28/2014

    " I love everything about this book: the style, the subject, the humor (it's subtle; I love it). A happily random find for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Joyce Lagow | 1/28/2014

    " This is a very American book. It could not have been written by any other nationality. It also could not have been written in any other era, certainly not in today's (2007) post-Vietnam, Iraq-burdened United States.[return][return][return]In a Bell for Adano, Hersey tells the story of the occupation and administration by Allied forces in 1943 of a recently-liberated Sicilian village. The administrator, Major Victor Joppolo, himself Italian-American, is an idealistic young man who earnestly wishes to help the village for all the "right" reasons-- to see justice done but with compassion, to help the villagers practice and see the benefits of democracy, American style--and a very American desire to be liked. He is, as the Prologue asks us to believe, [return][return]"a good man".[return][return]The village is shattered under the twin effects of over a decade of Fascist rule and the war. Joppolo's desire is to see the town get back on its feet as fast as it can.[return][return]So, instead of fast-paced action, we have a series of interwoven vignettes of just how that occurs. Early on, Joppolo discovers that the people of the town are both greiving and outraged over the loss of their 700 year old town bell. During the time just before thre allied invasion, the Fascists had removed the bell to have it melted down to make cannon. The bell was a part of the psyche of the village. It was the one that rang out the hours, it[return][return] "told us when to do things, such as eating. It told us when to have the morning egg and when to have pasta and rabbit and when to have wine in the evening." [return][return]It was [return][return]"the tone that mattered. It soothed all the people of this town. It chided those who were angry, it cheered the unhappy ones, it even laughed with those who were drunk. It was a tone for everybody".[return][return]Moved, Joppolo dedicates himself to finding another, suitable bell. [return][return]But meantime the bakeries have to reopen, the fishermen must be able to fish again--and food and water must be brought into the village by mule cart.[return][return]And there hangs the crisis of the tale. The late 20th century-early 21st century American idolatry of the military does not take into account the common soldier's experience--that most general officers are narrow-minded, rigid egotists who have no business in any sort of position of authority. We meet one such, General Marvin, who bewilders the village by ordering the killing of the mule of a poor carter and forbidding the entry into the village of any carts--all because one cart was in his way as he made his self-important way down the road. Joppolo, in an act of common sense, rescinds the order--and lays the foundation for his own undoing.[return][return]And so the story unfolds--of good acts by the major, of whom the village becomes quite fond, of the hard-headed common sense displayed by the cynical Sgt. Borth, of well-intentioned but disastrous acts on the part of 3 drunken M.P.s. Joppolo uses ingenuity and a sound knowledge of the psychology of his countrymen to get things done--while falling in love with one of the beautiful Sicilian young women in the town, who has lost her fianc "

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About the Author
Author John Hersey

John Hersey (1914–1993), a prolific and acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, won a Pulitzer Prize for A Bell for Adano. Yet throughout his life, he was most respected for Hiroshima. According to the New Yorker, “[It] remains his crowning achievement. Though it is imbued with a profound moral sense, it does not preach. It does not hector. It simply tells. The power of it, and of its author, is in the reporting.”

About the Narrator

David Green is founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby. Born into a pastor’s home, he began working at a local five-and-dime as a teen. Marrying his high school sweetheart, the young couple began a small picture-frame shop. In 1972 they opened their first retail store. Today Hobby Lobby has more than three hundred stores in twenty-seven states. David and his wife Barbara have three grown children.