I have this friend who occasionally recommends books to me. The only problem is that she’s much smarter than I am, so I tend to smile sweetly and completely ignore her suggestions, assuming that her recommendations will be completely over my head. This is the second time that I have found that reaction to be at my own peril. For months now, I have been avoiding A Bell for Adano by John Hersey, but since it was at the top of my list and I was sick of feeling guilty seeing it there, I broke down and read it, preparing to suffer through.
Of course, it was one of the funniest books I ever read. Hersey writes the story of Major Joppolo, an American soldier in charge of the Italian village of Adano after taking it back from the Germans during World War 2. Joppolo is a good man who just wants life to be better for the people of Adano, but he faces one obstacle after another. The many characters of this small village and the American military provide Hersey with plenty of comic material, as well as a story of human kindness.