When it comes to things like World War II, I prefer to read about the daily life of hoi polloi rather than battles won and lost and the big doings of world leaders. If you want a clear and unflinching picture of life for the Italian people late in the war, this book will serve better than any novel or formal history book. Iris Origo was an English woman who married an Italian. She kept a diary of her life in Tuscany during a time of constant uncertainty, privation, and senseless violence; but also great cooperation, selflessness, and unbelievable fortitude. The things these people witnessed and endured would be enough to give them post-traumatic stress symptoms for the rest of their lives. Just the noise from the shelling and bombs and war planes would have driven me to madness.This diary is a cure for self-pity. No matter how bad your life is, I'd be willing to bet as much as you're willing to lose that it's pretty cushy compared to what these people went through. And their suffering went on and on and on, while they waited to be liberated by the Allies who were moving toward them at a snail's pace. Thank you, Marchesa Origo, for having the presence of mind and dedication to continue making your diary entries when the world was crashing in around you.