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War in Val D'Orcia - David R. Godine, Publisher

Softcover, 256 pages
ISBN 0-87923-476-8
1995, $15.95

War in Val D'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944
by Iris Origo

A classic of World War II, and in its first American edition, War in Val d'Orcia is Iris Origo's elegantly simple chronicle of daily life at La Foce, a manor in a Tuscan no-man's land bracketed by foreign invasion and civil war.

With the immediacy only a diary can have, the book tells how the Marchesa Origo, an Anglo-American married to an Italian landowner, kept La Foce and its farms functioning while war threatened to overrun it and its people. She and her husband managed to protect their peasants, succor refugee children from Genoa and Turrin, hide escaped Allied prisoners of war-and somehow stand up to the Germans, who in dreaded due course occupied La Foce in 1944 and forced the Marchesa to retreat under a hot June sun.

Fleeing eight impossible miles on foot, along a mined road under shell fire, with sixty children in tow, she sheltered her flock in the dubious safety of a nearby village. A few days later, official Fascism disappeared, and La Foce was ransacked by the retreating Wehrmacht. Here, as the restoration of La Foce begins, her book ends.

Beyond praise and above mere documentary value, War in Val d'Orcia belongs to the literature of humanity.

Praise for War in Val D'Orcia

Even the most casual acquaintance with Iris Origo cannot fail to produce the impression of a remarkable woman.
—The New York Times Book Review

War in Val D'Orcia is the simple, day-to-day record of the terrible years 1943-44 in Italy, set down by a woman who was always too busy, she noted, to remember to feel afraid.

—The New Yorker

Beyond doubt a minor masterpiece.

—The Washington Post

This elegantly restrained diary is a timeless tale of compassion, stoicism, courage and heroism that crosses all lines of rank and ideology and leaves the reader with a better understanding of "humanity" in its best sense.

—Publishers Weekly

Her book retains a sense of immediacy and suspense, her hopes and fears of each moment, and so is likely to endure.


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



  • Also explore the villa where Iris Origo lived.
  • Read the New York Times review of War in Val D'Orcia.
  • Read about the history of published diaries and learn about their historical importance
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