D. Pat Thomas

Writer, Yoga Teacher, Lover of Things Outdoors


Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Posted by Pat on May 9, 2021 at 7:30 PM

Every once in a while, I read a book than fundamentally changes my world view. This is what happened to me when I read Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. Though the book is written as fiction, it is heavily rooted in painstaking research of the experiences of an Italian boy, Pino Lella, as he grows into a man before and during World War II.

The story itself is riveting, the events astonishing in and of themselves. Pino’s loss of innocence is profound and profoundly sad. From being a giddy, girl-enthralled teenager, Pino’s grit, faith and skill – whether guiding Jews to the border of Switzerland, skiing with a pregnant woman on his back or driving while being shot at – are a credit to humanity itself. But it is the loss of humanism – by both the Allies and the Nazis -- that so deeply affected me. War leaves people so deprived, so powerless, so savaged -- that savagery against one’s fellow man becomes inevitable. Not only that, but the shear randomness of life is epitomized when Pino’s sacrifices end up being of questionable value.

If all this seems macabre and disillusioning, such that you are thinking of rejecting my recommendation of this book, please reconsider. This is a story of  human dedication and resilience, a story that will amaze and magnetize you, a story of life itself: you should not miss it!


Categories: Book Reviews