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 BOOK - STREET BOYS


     Naples, Italy, during four fateful days in the fall of 1943. The only people left in the shattered, bombed-out city are the lost, abandoned children whose only goal is to survive another day. None could imagine that they would become fearless fighters and the unlikeliest heroes of World War II. They are the warriors immortalized in Lorenzo Carcaterra's riveting STREET BOYS.

It's late September. The war in Europe is almost won. Italy is leaderless. Mussolini already arrested by anti-fascists. The German army has evacuated the city of Naples. Adults, even entire families, have been marched off to work camps or simply sent to their deaths. Now, the German army is moving toward Naples to finish the job. Their chilling instructions are: If the city can't belong to Hitler, it will belong to no one.

No one but the children. Children who have been orphaned or hidden by parents in a last, defiant gesture against the Nazis. Children, some as young as ten years old, armed with just a handful of guns, unexploded bombs, and their own ingenuity. Children who are determined to take on the advancing enemy and save the city -- or die trying.

There is Vincenzo Soldari, a sixteen-year-old history buff who is determined to make history by leading others with courage and self-confidence; Carlo Maldini, a middle-aged drunkard desperate to redeem himself by adding his experience to the raw exuberance of the young fighters; Nunzia Maldini, his nineteen-year-old daughter, who helps her father regain his self-respect -- and loses her heart to an American GI; Corporal Steve Connors, a soldier sent out on reconnaissance, then cut off from his comrades -- with no choice but to aid the street boys; Colonel Rudolph Van Klaus, the proud Nazi commander shamed by his own sadistic mission; and, of course, the dozens of young boys who use their few skills and great heart to try to save their city, their country, and themselves.

In its compassionate portrait of the rootless young, and its pitiless portrayal of the violence that is at once their world and their way out, STREET BOYS continues and deepens Lorenzo Carcaterra's trademark themes. In its awesome scope and pure page-turning excitement, it stands as a stirring tribute to the underdog in us all -- and as a singular addition to the novels about World War II.

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ESSAYS: ESSAY-A Mother's War I ESSAY - Naples I

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REVIEWS

"A fast-paced plot toward a heroic ending ... The end of the war and the Allied invasion of Italy are well-known, but it is the transformation of characters along the way defines quality historical fiction."
-- The Denver Post

"In World War II Naples, homeless children take on the advancing Germans single-handedly, with just a few primitive weapons and the help of a stranded American G.I. Soon to be a major motion picture." 
-- Library Journal

"Carcaterra dramatizes a story he heard many times growing up about a real-life band of Italian children, orphaned by the Nazi invasion, who refused to leave their beloved Naples. Instead, they hid in the hills and scraped together a makeshift army. As Carcaterra embellishes the tale, American soldier Steve Connors, sent to rescue any remaining civilians, instead reluctantly stays on to aid the young, determined, and seemingly doomed entourage. But they are a resourceful bunch, and the resistance they mount baffles the beleaguered Nazi soldiers, who, in the fall of 1943, know already that Italy eventually will fall to the Allies. Still, the Nazis approach the children as if they were any other group of enemy fighters, and when the streetwise young people continue to flourish, the Nazis are both frustrated and determined not to be made fools of by a pack of kids ... Barry Levinson is slated to direct the Warner Brothers release of a movie version (as he did Carcaterra's Sleepers). Expect the film buzz to help create demand."
--  Booklist


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