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Miracle at St. Anna


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About the Author

James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, the #1 bestselling American classic The Color of Water, and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. McBride is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.


Following the huge critical and commercial success of his nonfiction memoir, The Color of Water, McBride offers a powerful and emotional novel of black American soldiers fighting the German army in the mountains of Italy around the village of St. Anna of Stazzema in December 1944. This is a refreshingly ambitious story of men facing the enemy in front and racial prejudice behind; it is also a carefully crafted tale of a mute Italian orphan boy who teaches the American soldiers, Italian villagers and partisans that miracles are the result of faith and trust. Toward the end of 1944, four black U.S. Army soldiers find themselves trapped behind enemy lines in the village as winter and the German army close in. Pvt. Sam Train, a huge, dim-witted, gentle soldier, cares for the traumatized orphan boy and carries a prized statue's head in a sack on his belt. Train and his three comrades are scared and uncertain what to do next, but an Italian partisan named Peppi involves the Americans in a ruthless ploy to uncover a traitor among the villagers. Someone has betrayed the villagers and local partisans to the Germans, resulting in an unspeakable reprisal. Revenge drives Peppi, but survival drives the Americans. The boy, meanwhile, knows the truth of the atrocity and the identity of the traitor, but he clings to Train for comfort and protection. Through his sharply drawn characters, McBride exposes racism, guilt, courage, revenge and forgiveness, with the soldiers confronting their own fear and rage in surprisingly personal ways at the decisive moment in their lives. Agent, Flip Brophy. Author tour. (Feb. 4) Forecast: The multi-talented McBride he is an award-winning composer as well as a writer acquits himself admirably as a fiction writer. Fans of The Color of Water and readers with wartime memories will make up a strong base audience for his first novel. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

The miracles of survival, of love born in extremity, and of inexplicable "luck" are the subjects of this first novel by the author of the best-selling memoir The Color of Water. During World War II, in the Serchio valley deep in the Italian Alps, a small African American division of the U.S. army struggles to obey the orders of unseen white men in a war that is for them illogical and rife with cruelty. Sam Train, the perfect soldier (he's big, he's kind, he can shoot a gun, he follows orders, and he's dumb), finds himself behind enemy lines in the company of a wounded child a rescuer in need of rescuing. His comrades, when they arrive, unwittingly unmask a traitor among the Italian rebel forces, whose actions explain the riddle of a massacre and the village siege. Similar to Louis de Bernires's Corelli's Mandolin (LJ 7/94) in its treatment of Italian wartime village life and the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity, this story is true to the stark realities of racial politics yet has an eye to justice and hope. Highly recommended for all public libraries and for book discussion groups. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/01.] Jennifer Baker, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Praise for The Miracle at St. Anna:

"McBride creates an intricate mosaic of narratives that ultimately becomes about betrayal and the complex moral landscape of war." -The New York Times Book Review

"Full of miracles of friendship, of salvation and survival." -Los Angeles Times

"Searingly, soaringly beautiful...The book's central theme, its essence, is a celebration of the human capacity for love." -The Baltimore Sun

"A haunting meditation on faith that is also a crack military thriller." -Entertainment Weekly

"An outstanding novel about World War II inspired by the famous Buffalo Soldiers...so descriptive that I feel as though I'm an eyewitness to everything that happens emotionally on the frontline." -The Dallas Morning News

"A miracle in its own right...McBride's prose is stunning. His ability to bring to life an actual historical event (the massacre at St. Anna and the famed Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Division) is a gift." -Rocky Mountain News

"Sweetly compelling... McBride combines elements of history, mythology and magical realism to make this a story about the little things like life and forgiveness and shared experience." -Atlanta Journal Constitution

"Riveting." -Newsday

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