Sorry! This site requires JavaScript. Virtually nothing will work without it. Please enable it in your browser.

Miracle at St. Anna

The Buffalo Soldiers were the black American troopers of the 92nd Division who fought and died in Italy in World War II. In Miracle at Sant'Anna their remarkable story has been "novelised" by James McBride, bestselling author of The Color of Water. To get at the emotional and metaphorical heart of the fate of the so-called "Negro Division", McBride has invented a number of black soldier heroes and antiheroes; Sam Train, Stamps, Bishop, Hector, etc. Using the eyes, ears and voices of these and other soldiers McBride tells how the Buffalo Soldiers fought, loved, cursed, cooked, stole, whored, wept, suffered, killed, and mule-trained their way up the war-torn Italian peninsula. It's in many ways the standard war story, told in McBride's admirably calm, judiciously lyrical prose: this is an author unafraid of saying things the simple way, nor of utilising slang or cliché: "he fell asleep and slept like a dead man", "the big galoo was sitting in the path of twelve thousand Germans, and he couldn't even read a map".

And yet, and yet. This isn't just your average bit of combat fiction. These are black American soldiers, two generations from Africa and slavery, fighting in the cradle of Christendom, the birthplace of the Renaissance. With cleverness and subtly McBride makes great play with the perceived and supposed distinction between the savage uncouthness of the "jitterbugging negroes" and the refined and elegant beauties of Tuscany and Rome. And it's when these distinctions are truly disproved, or even upended, that this skilful, intelligent, deeply felt novel carries frank emotional power--earning it comparisons with the likes of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain. --Sean Thomas


Siena (285)


Italy (5,202)

Other geographical areas

Tuscany (837)
Southern Europe (7,123)