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Italy, near Cassino. The terrible winter of 1944. A dismal icy rain falls, unabated, for days.
Three American soldiers set out on the gruelling ascent of a perilous Italian mountainside in the murky closing days of the Second World War. Haunted by their sergeant's cold-blooded murder of a young girl, and with only an old man of uncertain loyalties as their guide, they truge on in a state of barely suppressed terror and confusion. With snipers lying in wait for them, the men are confronted by agonizing moral choices...
Taut and propulsive - Peace is a feat of economy, compression, and imagination, a tough and unmistakably contemporary meditation on the corrosiveness of violence, the human cost of war, and the redemptive power of mercy.
An abrupt and chilling act of violence opens Bauch's 11th novel, marking the beginning of a bleak but compelling meditation on the moral dimensions of warfare. Cpl. Robert Marson is trudging up an Italian hillside, leading two of his men on an uncertain mission through the unrelenting winter of 1944. The soldiers are haunted by the cold-blooded murder by their sergeant, Glick, of a woman on the Italian roadside, and highly suspicious of the Italian farmer they have enlisted to act as a guide in their scouting mission. Snipers loom along their path, and the immediate fear of death seeps into each tantalizing memory of home. Equivocation between the absurdity of an unreported murder and the inevitability of killing as a means of survival drives the troops' despairing, profanity-laced banter as the meaninglessness of their mission becomes clear. The peace of the title is glimpsed only fleetingly, throwing into relief the stark, indiscriminate nature of war. Bausch's compassion for Marson and his men is evident, but his story is unforgiving; the tightly paced final scenes offer no clarity of purpose in a dark war story of unyielding sorrow.