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A Kindle First selection that is masterfully written with complex characters and heart-pounding scenes. It takes place in Italy -'the forgotten front'- during WW II and the reader is drawn into a web of intrigue. Pino Lello, 17 years of age, is wise beyond his years and intelligent, as well. It is a gripping story of resilience, the indomitable spirit of a young man that knew no boundaries and courage that sustained him during dark hours.

When reading the first portion, I was wondering if (and how) this intense pace would continue. The climbing scenes through the mountains gave me a real shot of adrenaline. I felt as though I was one of the climbers and not a reader. This is also when the echoes of 'Nessun Dorma' were played with such passion. For me, this is one of the underlying themes in the story - 'none shall sleep'. And, Pino Lello has taken that to heart for the remainder of this story.

The action intensified throughout the remainder of the book, and one is allowed a rare glimpse into the mind of Il Duce - Benito Mussolini - plus the inner workings of the German High Command. Becoming a driver for Major General Hans Leyer allows Pino access to a man that is two steps from the Fuhrer. Pino Lello witnesses atrocities he wishes he could forget but keeps soldiering on...wisely...

Just a gripping and harrowing Kindle First selection which I feel is the best one I have read. Full of action and suspense which will keep you on the edge of your seat for the duration.

Most highly recommended.

Please note that this is my Kindle First selection for April 2017.
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Set in Italy during the last two years of the second World War, this story follows the life of a remarkable young man, Pino Lella, who finds himself assigned as the driver of one of the most powerful Nazi officials in Italy. He accompanies this General throughout northern Italy as the war deteriorates and comes to a violent and tragic end.

The scenes of brutality on all sides are shocking and depressing, not only on the part of the Nazis towards their captives and slaves, but also on the part of Italians who at the end of the war let their anger erupt against the dictator Mussolini and others. There are many scenes of heroism and bravery as well, and the story of Lella makes it all very personal throughout. His own tragedies are particularly painful and sad as the war ends.

This is an extraordinary life in all respects, not only his wartime accomplishments but his life afterwards which is recounted at the end of the novel. His encounters with various famous people throughout his life are fascinating.

A very worthwhile story that author Mark Sullivan was lucky enough to learn of, then putting several years of research into piecing together as many of the details as he could. He presents it as a biographical / historical novel but inasmuch as it is based upon the true story of Pino Lella I take it as fundamentally a true story. Remarkable to read, both sad and inspiring.

Photos attached (left to right):

1. Father Re and Barbareschi
2. Pino with author Mark Sullivan in 2006
3. Pino on Lake Orta, looking north, 2006
4. Pino at book signing in Stresa, Italy, June 15, 2017
5. Pino at age 17
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on April 1, 2017
I've read nearly every word Mark Sullivan has ever published - so I can say with authority that this work, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, stands as the ultimate fusion of his Pulitzer-nominated journalistic skills and his mastery of the thriller genre, which he's honed at the keyboard he sometimes shares with James Patterson. He takes us deep inside the love story of his discovery, the unknown hero, Pino Lella, and he crafts an epic tale set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Milan and the Italian Alps during World War II that is as intimate and tragic as it is thought-provoking and triumphant. Every page, every step crackles. Each twist, rooted in years of first-class reporting, shocks you anew. Through Sullivan's gripping cast of characters, the unreality and brutality of war meets its match in the guts and wits and soul of Pino Lella, his family, his friends and cohorts. This heretofore untold story has been etched in my heart and mind with a telling that is equally cinematic and literary. With this, perhaps his masterwork, Sullivan has reached a pinnacle in storytelling - and readers everywhere, like me, will be better for living it through his words. Of course, it is Pino Lella we must also praise and thank - for what he did with his young life, his uncommon bravery, his story and letting Sullivan share it with us. I wish I could read it again for the first time.
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on April 2, 2017
I cannot add more to the excellent reviews previously posted other than to say I read this book in one sitting not being able to put it down until 4:00 AM! It gripped me emotionally and I'm still thinking about it the next day. Rarely does even a good book have the depth and character development than this one did. I will be looking for more from this amazing author!
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on September 10, 2017
I love historical fiction. I have been reading a lot of WWII historical books lately. I was not really wanting to read 'another' one. But, we were traveling to Milan, and this true story took place in Milan. So, I bought it, and started reading it a few days before the trip. Once we were in our hotel on the street Corso Matteotti, I was amazed to find out that Pino Lella grew up in that area and at onetime lived on that very street! A very well written book. A very amazing life Pino lived. I did not know that Milan was affected so much by WWII. I definitely recommend it. Pictures are of the church San Bbila - the neighborhood where Pino grew up, and of where his parent's purse shop and his uncle's leather shop used to be.
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I'm blown away! This amazing book was my pick for Kindle Unlimited this month....and I wasn't even much interested in reading it. Wow, was I wrong! This is a coming-of-age story of an exceptional, young Italian teen during WWII in Milan. Pino is your average 17-year-old looking for girls, fun and running around with his friends. His life changed unalteringly over the next couple of years as the war becomes "real" in his life, affecting his home, family and all he knows up until then.
I've never been a fan of WWII era books, but this is the most eye-opening reading experience I've had in a long time. I want each of my children and grandchildren to read it and realize how very blessed their lives are. I literally blubbered like a baby late last night while not being able to stop reading it. It touched me to my soul!
The visual descriptions of the inhumanity of war is vividly told from the viewpoint of this extraordinary youth who recalls himself as a coward. It's real, raw, numbing. This author spent years investigating and researching the story after actually meeting Pino Lella, the youth written about here, many decades later. It is a compelling argument against war!
I cannot say enough about this awesome story or the author's writing and highly recommend it to all readers. And I thank Mark Sullivan for the history lessons.
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on July 28, 2017
I loved it! The author : Mark Sullivan ,surly knows how to write. I will buy other books he has written.
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on May 4, 2017
Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan Review 5/4/17

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours. Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior. In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders. Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share. Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

What did I like? I love history, mystery, intrigue and romance… all my favorites all in one book. This was such an interesting book and some of the history of course most of us know. I was so intrigued with this story that I did a little research on my own and saw the work that the author put into the telling of Pino’s story. I can tell you that I was pulled in every minute and had such a tough time putting this book down. I have heard the same remarks from several of my friends that have also read the book.

What will you like? Even though this book has a little liberal use in the story you will see the story from a unique perspective that will have you holding your breath. The horrors of the time are all spelled out, so I want to warn you but it is told in a way that we can all understand what Pino and all the other members of his family went through. I know the different things that my dad told me about the time that he was there and saw several photos that gave me nightmares at the time and still haunt me. This story really brought the things that I already knew and the research that I did on my own, plus the discussions that I have had about this book to a new light. I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest of that period. The work and effort that was put into the book shows in every page and tells Pino’s story that no one has heard before.
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on August 27, 2017
I'm reading and listening to the Audible version alternately. At first I thought the narration might be the reason why I just wasn't liking the book. It sounds like it's written for an adolescent audience. But switching to the Kindle version didn't help. The characters are very simple, with no depth or complexity. So far, any hard situation is solved by "I'll pray" and poof problem solved. I know this is based on a true story, but perhaps a better editor could have pulled some dimension or itnensity out of the author. Any comparison to All the Light We Cannot See or the Nightingale is disservice to them. I'm really not sure if I want to waste the time listening to the rest of the book. I suspect the story might be interesting, but with the writing on such a facile level, I'm not sure it's worth it.
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on August 20, 2017
A very engrossing tale and a serious telling of the heroic participants standing up to the Nazi regime in Italy, a WWII location history seems to have forgotten. Pino Lella was a very interesting protagonist. Some have wondered if his experiences were embellished but knowing the pervasiveness of the German war machine it's hard not to believe if not personally experienced, he may have been remembering experiences of others he knew. An extraordinary teenager determined to do what was right in the face of personal peril. I did enjoy the novel and appreciated learning of the Italian war history. What I tired of was the simple writing and somewhat cliche dialogue. The story itself deserved a more serious approach on the part of the author but all in all a serious historical saga.The section at the end titled, Aftermath, was greatly appreciated to explain what happened to some of the people so important to Pino's experience.
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