A Year on the High Plateau – Un Anno Sull’Altipiano – by Emilio Lussu (Cagliari 1890 – Rome 1975) in my opinion is one of the greatest books which came out of WWI but it is virtually unknown in Great Britain and the USA. It is a violent and crude work showing the stupidity of fighting wars, more or less on the same tune of Remarque’s Nothing New On the Western Front.
The main reason of not being so well known is probably that – like for many people having been through that traumatic event that had been the Great War – Lussu was not willing to write about it. Finally he was convinced, while in exile in Paris, by Gaetano Salvemini to put down his story. The book was published in 1938 in Paris, in a limited edition which is virtually non existent anymore (I saw a copy of it in ebay a couple of years ago being offered at 10.000 euro).
Lussu was an officer of the Sassari Brigade and was decorated several times for bravery. He had been one of those Italian intellectuals clamouring for entering the war against Germany and Austria, tragically their wish was finally granted and Italy in 1915 entered the war. The actions recalled in this book were happening on the Asiago plateau.
In 1970 an impressive movie was shot by film director Francesco Rosi Uomini Contro that is ‘Men Against’.
Two days ago was the anniversary of Sarajevo’s shooting of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the fuse which ignited WW1 and several novels and movie were presented but Un anno sull’Altipiano was sorely missing.
Here you may watch a part of the movie: