Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan is a remarkable book, it tells the story of Pino Lella’s teenage years at the end of the war, based upon a series of interviews that Sullivan had with Lella towards the end of his life.
Lella’s war starts with him acting as a mountain guide/courier helping jews to escape from occupied Italy into Switzerland. He is “conscripted” into the German army by his family as a way of keeping him out of the from line and works as a driver and translator for one of the commanders of the 3rd Reich in Italy, this privileged position allows him to spy for the partisans.
As the war draws to a close and German forces are retreating the story climaxes in the chaos of the lawless days of retribution.
If ever a novel illustrates that fact can be stranger and more exciting than fiction, this is it. From early on it is captivating, terrifying and thrilling.