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Extended Audio Sample A Soldier of the Great War Audiobook, by Mark Helprin Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.21166666666667 out of 54.21166666666667 out of 54.21166666666667 out of 54.21166666666667 out of 54.21166666666667 out of 5 4.21 (42 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Helprin Narrator: David Colacci Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2007 ISBN: 9781482977257
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From acclaimed novelist Mark Helprin comes a lush, literary epic about love, beauty, and the world at war.

Alessandro Giuliani, the young son of a prosperous Roman lawyer, enjoys an idyllic life full of privilege: he races horses across the country to the sea, he climbs mountains in the Alps, and, while a student of painting at the ancient university in Bologna, he falls in love. Then the Great War intervenes. Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, tall and proud, meets an illiterate young factory worker on the road. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers away, the old man—a soldier and a hero who became a prisoner and then a deserter, wandering in the hell that claimed Europe—tells him how he tragically lost one family and gained another. The boy, envying the richness and drama of Alessandro’s experiences, realizes that this magnificent tale is not merely a story: it’s a recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and, above all, a love song for his family.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Extraordinary…A vast, ambitious, spiritually lusty, all-guzzling, all-encompassing novel.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A rousing tale…riotous energy and sustained brilliance…Helprin lights his own way, in his own singular direction.”

    Time

  • “Intense, memorable…magnificent…A massive, soaring novel of ideas and ordeals.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Energetic prose, poetic images of great intensity, and an antic imagination combine in this gripping moral fable narrated by a septuagenarian irrevocably altered by World War I.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The language is rich without cloying, complex yet luminous in Helprin’s best style. In a number of thoughtful philosophical passages as engaging as any adventure story, Alesandro struggles to reconcile his appreciation of beauty and his religious faith with the horror around him. That he finally persuades us to believe in a ‘God without any hope, in a God of splendor and terror’ is testimony to the indomitable human spirit. Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal

  • “[An] ebullient, elegiac novel of destruction and survival…Tender, optimistic, and sumptuously presented: a feast of a novel, right down to Alessandro’s tender lingering over the final course.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rhust | 9/28/2016

    " It took me days to find a review outlet for the audio version of a wonderful, well written gem of a book. The audio version hurts my head! Not because the narrator isn't good, clear, smooth and gifted. Nope! Ive read this book numerous times and I can only hope someone, one day will record this book with the Italian accents it was written in. All the charactors-especially Giuliani would, does have at least!!!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martin | 2/20/2014

    " The book expired on my iPad library checkout before I could finish, but it seemed interesting, but not interesting enough to check out again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachael | 2/13/2014

    " i read this because edward norton told me to. i'm shameless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 William | 2/11/2014

    " Unsurpassed mastery of the language and of self examination. At almost any other time of my life I would have rated it five stars as I did Winter's Tale, but I am not now as interested in smelling the flowers along the path as I once was. Never has consciousness been so closely examined with such an amazing set of metaphors. To be somewhat playful, Julian Jaynes would rank Helprin right up there with William Shakespeare for the size of his metaphor collection. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kerry | 2/10/2014

    " I read this book based on fellow reader Nicole. I agree with her whole-heartedly, a great book, very descriptive, but also very dense. It sparked an interest in reading more about WWI perspectives other than US. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 John Nelson | 1/31/2014

    " This book was well reviewed when it was published in the early 1990s. I expected it to be a worthwhile addition to the literature about WWI, but it was not. A bland and disappointing book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ariel | 1/28/2014

    " Not nearly as good as memoirs of an ant proof case, but almost as whimsical. A little sad, as war ought to be and incredibly unreal as Helprin books often are. Still beautiful and poignant at many moments. It was a perfect book for night time reading during my last month of thesis. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steven | 1/23/2014

    " One of the BEST books I have ever read. Starts a little slow but after the first 75 pages you get the rhythm and it just takes off. Few books will make you laugh and then cry (sounds corny but it did)and have scenes and people that you will remember for the rest of your life. Episodic story of the Great War. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alyssa | 1/16/2014

    " On the Bookshelf: A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 1/9/2014

    " An epic saga following one man's journey through Italy before, during, and after WWI. This book crosses many genres - travel narrative, war story, love story. Holds many lessons to remember about life, particularly how to slow down and notice the beauty in every moment. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kitti | 1/9/2014

    " Amazing. I wanted a substantial book with the right amount of intensity and I was completely satisfied. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roger Barry | 1/9/2014

    " I re-read this book every few years. I recently read it while we were loving and traveling in Italy. It helps me understand the history and culture of Italy. It is also a great adult romance. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terry | 1/7/2014

    " The plot is factually well formed, even if the protagonist is a tad over the top, but the writing, oh the writing - one brain stunning phrase and image after another. I kept wanting to read it out loud to others. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ginny | 12/31/2013

    " Stunning! It is a saga I was sorry to see end. Though it took me a little bit to get into it because some of the language is difficult, it was worth the time and I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to just savor a beautiful story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike Abraham | 12/31/2013

    " The best novel since Tolstoy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jody | 12/26/2013

    " Robie, I finally finished it! I thought it was great - moving historical fiction and lots of beautiful language. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff Scharfen | 12/16/2013

    " One of my all time favorite books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 12/11/2013

    " Wonderful! Phenomenal read. One of my favorite books. Helprin is at his best with this book. I wept in the end. Not enough positive things to say about this book. A must read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracee | 11/10/2013

    " A real book lovers book. Poetry in writing, a treat to anyone in love with this time period. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ashley Reiner | 10/1/2013

    " Quite possibly one of my favorite books - beautiful imagery and story "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 alex | 7/24/2013

    " I read most of this on a trip to China - very surreal. But an amazing, beautiful book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jack Schreur | 4/28/2013

    " In a lifetime of reading, this book has risen to the top. "Soldier" is, quite simply, the most beautiful book I have had the pleasure of reading. Funny, profound, sad, powerful, filled with life and beautifully moving. Maybe my favorite novel in English in the last 20 years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matthew | 1/21/2013

    " This was a great book. Story about love and family and war. I greatly enjoyed it and like any great book it made me think about my own life. I highly recommend this one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 12/26/2012

    " Stunning imagery, and an awesome writing style. Follows an an Italian man's experience before, during, and after the first world war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James R. C. Baker | 12/18/2012

    " Here is a fiction of "every dazzling particular", as the author says, and each is inter-connected. Alessandro, the warrior protagonist, listens to the music of his heart and breathing through risks with hope and "looses the habit of safety". Thus, what Alessandro does is impeccable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 stephanie | 10/23/2012

    " might be my favorite book ever.... beautifully written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 4/14/2012

    " This book is completely different from what I was expecting it to be. I wish I decided to read at different time. It is not a light or easy read and it takes some concentration. Needless to say, the story was wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert Wooldridge | 2/20/2012

    " One of my all-time favorites -- epic, gorgeous, violent, passionate... what more could you ask for? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hilary | 1/24/2012

    " A difficult book to get into - well written, but just moved too slow. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marissa | 12/23/2011

    " This book rocked my world in high school, probably because of this magic combo: WW1 + ludicrously smart & witty main character who goes on all sorts of random adventures (I always get crushes on clever main characters). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marin | 10/6/2011

    " Awesome, like reading a poem. And as such, at times obscure and wordy. But soul-liftingly sad and funny and beautiful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clare | 7/10/2011

    " I always check to see if Helprin has written anything new - this was not a disappointment! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maryj | 5/10/2011

    " A beautifully written book but slow reading. So far I am enjoying it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 5/8/2011

    " I will rarely rate a book a "5" but this one I do. It is an epic novel telling the triumphs and failures of a man. It looks at his life unflinching, there is much to admire about him and also much to despair about him and his choices. It is story of a human being beautifully told. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane | 4/15/2011

    " A long slog - but when the vivid writing came it is memorable.... and worth it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eleanor | 4/12/2011

    " one of my all time favorite books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alper | 4/10/2011

    " The best book I have ever read! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Natalie | 4/10/2011

    " Gave up after 100 pages and the only thing that happened was they walked a few miles "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ariel | 3/30/2011

    " Not nearly as good as memoirs of an ant proof case, but almost as whimsical. A little sad, as war ought to be and incredibly unreal as Helprin books often are. Still beautiful and poignant at many moments. It was a perfect book for night time reading during my last month of thesis. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 3/24/2011

    " One of my all-time favorites -- epic, gorgeous, violent, passionate... what more could you ask for? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim | 2/13/2011

    " Truly excellent. About seeing the beauty in the world around you, I suppose. Sometimes reminds me a bit of Umberto Eco. (Andy, I think you'd love it.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/30/2011

    " A wonderful story written beautifully. So many passages to be highlighted. "

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About the Author
Author Mark Helprin

Mark Helprin was educated at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Oxford. He served in the Israeli military and the British Merchant NavyHe is the acclaimed author of Winter’s Tale and numerous other works.

About the Narrator

David Colacci is an actor and director who has directed and performed in prominent theaters nationwide. His credits include roles from Shakespeare to Albee, as well as extensive work on new plays. As a narrator, he has recorded more than one hundred audiobooks, earned eight AudioFile Earphones Awards, and been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award. His narration of The Suspect was named one of AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2007.