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A Soldier of the Great War | [Mark Helprin]

A Soldier of the Great War

On his last long walk, septuagenarian war hero, deserter, and professor Alessandro Giuliani shares his past with an illiterate young factory worker, spinning a remarkable tale of heart-stopping escapes, of loves unrequited and won, of madmen, dwarfs, and mafiosi. But overshadowing all is his most miraculous and terrible adventure, the Great War: a surreal parade of horrors that devastated and defined Alessandro, yet enabled him to experience fully the magic and beauty of the absurd human comedy called life.
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Publisher's Summary

On his last long walk, septuagenarian war hero, deserter, and professor Alessandro Giuliani shares his past with an illiterate young factory worker, spinning a remarkable tale of heart-stopping escapes, of loves unrequited and won, of madmen, dwarfs, and mafiosi. But overshadowing all is his most miraculous and terrible adventure, the Great War: a surreal parade of horrors that devastated and defined Alessandro, yet enabled him to experience fully the magic and beauty of the absurd human comedy called life.

©1991 Mark Helprin; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks America

What the Critics Say

"Extraordinary....a vast, ambitious, spiritually lusty, all-guzzling, all-encompassing novel." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A rousing tale....riotous energy and sustained brilliance....Helprin lights his own way, in his ownsingular direction." (Time)
"A gripping, poignant and universally relevant moral fable." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (277 )
5 star
 (139)
4 star
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3 star
 (44)
2 star
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1 star
 (5)
Overall
4.3 (139 )
5 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.4 (138 )
5 star
 (86)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (1)
Performance
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  •  
    David STAMFORD, CT, United States 05-14-15
    David STAMFORD, CT, United States 05-14-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Insufferably Noble"

    I could not finish this book. The hero, Alessandro, was unbearable, intended to be lovable and sensitive but frankly self-centered and condescending. He attracts only the most beautiful, sensitive women, and his every thought is a gem of innocent wisdom.

    I gave up just a few hours into the novel, shortly after young Alessandro attends a state dinner in Rome at the suggestion of his beautiful, well-connected neighbor Leah Bellini, with whom he has been flirting. He sits with the Austro-Hungarian and French ambassadors, and without much thinking begins pontificating about Italy's foreign policy, making pronouncements that are more insightful (from today's perspective) than anything the ambassadors have heard before. Gimme a break. This is shortly after he outsmarts and outraces two Italian carabinieri on his sleek steed, Enrico, risking jail or a beating to reach a beach where the lovely Leah has ridden on her own horse.

    I could not make it to the sections on the Great War, which are supposed to be beautifully written. Having said that, Mark Helprin is a strong writer, with some excellent imagery. His characters are just cardboard heroes, however, without shading.

    The narration by David Colacci was very good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott ESCONDIDO, CA, United States 01-18-15
    Scott ESCONDIDO, CA, United States 01-18-15 Member Since 2012
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    14
    7
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    "Beautiful in every way"

    One of the great reads of my lifetime. Story, characters, word choice, imagery, humor, thought provocation, action, inspiration, love... This book has it all!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S MA 01-17-14
    John S MA 01-17-14 Member Since 2014

    Avid audible listener for over 10 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    719
    ratings
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    165
    162
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    4
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    Story
    "Read this do not listen."

    I read this book before I listened to it a few years later. I read it because I loved a Winters Tale which soon will be a movie. Mark Helprin books are rather long and demand some attention while taking in the story. The narrated version actually detracts from it. So I would highly recommend this book as something you take from your local library, its just to "dense" to listen to with any distractions. It's like trying to listen to Hamlet. While you are at the Library see if you can find a copy of Helprin's book Refiner's Fire. I actually think it was his best work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ilonka Greenwich, NJ, United States 09-26-12
    Ilonka Greenwich, NJ, United States 09-26-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
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    "Great Listen!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Excellent main character and wonderful story. I like Mr. Helprin's dry humor and descriptions of people and places. He takes you on quite a journey.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 11-19-10
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 11-19-10 Member Since 2010

    SamanthaG

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow Going"

    This book was highly recommended and given to me in print by a friend whose opinion I respect and with whom I usually agree on books. I started reading it a few times but just couldn't get "into" it. It nagged at me for several years, so when I found the audio version on Audible, I immediately selected it. I've found in the past that I have much more tenacity in sticking with an audio book than one in print. I've listened to about the first quarter of the book and am giving up. The prose is beautiful, but there's just too much of it and not enough is happening to keep my interest. I keep thinking that it'll get better - and maybe it does - but I've lost interest.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 09-16-10
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 09-16-10 Member Since 2010

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Funny and compelling"

    Excellent narration and very compelling story. I would stay in the car another 10 minutes to continue to listen. I love this author. His characters are very rich and interesting. I cared about them in the first 10 minutes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Bradenton, Florida, United States 06-24-09
    Andy Bradenton, Florida, United States 06-24-09 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    Overall
    "Wonderful listen."

    This is well worth your time. Well written and well read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. McMillen Danville, IL USA 03-07-08
    J. McMillen Danville, IL USA 03-07-08 Listener Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
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    "Good listen"

    We enjoyed this book! It is a bit long and wordy but the story and characters are well written and the narrator keeps you interested.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill 02-04-08
    Bill 02-04-08 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not so good"

    I am a huge fan of Helprin's Freddy and Fredericka- but this book is just too long and confusing. It seems like the author cobbled together 1000 & 1 old short stories from before he had found his comedic voice and stitched them together into a saga a-la Scheherezade. I would have hoped more for Don Quixote from Helprin. I couldn't finish.

    1 of 8 people found this review helpful
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