Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
Pages: 320
Publication Date: August 21, 2018

War in Val d'OrciaAn Italian War Diary, 1943–1944

by Iris Origo, introduction by Virginia Nicholson

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At the height of the Second World War, Italy was being torn apart by German armies, civil war, and the eventual Allied invasion. In a corner of Tuscany, one woman—born in England, married to an Italian—kept a record of daily life in a country at war. Iris Origo’s compellingly powerful diary, War in Val d’Orcia, is the spare and vivid account of what happened when a peaceful farming valley became a battleground.

 At great personal risk, the Origos gave food and shelter to partisans, deserters, and refugees. They took in evacuees, and as the front drew closer they faced the knowledge that the lives of thirty-two small children depended on them. Origo writes with sensitivity and generosity, and a story emerges of human acts of heroism and compassion, and the devastation that war can bring.


Origo’s diary is a compelling story of heroism, compassion, and—in the author’s words—‘the most primitive traditions of ungrudging hospitality, uncalculating brotherhood...the shared, simple acts of everyday life.’
—Vic Sussman, The Washington Post

[War in Val d’Orcia] is a remarkably moving document that, like the best of the elemental war stories, eventually becomes a statement about the unplanned nature and folly of war.
—Herbert Mitgang, The New York Times

A welcome rediscovery, evoking a unique, strange moment in civilian/soldier wartime-history with spare, vital immediacy.
Kirkus Reviews