On the bookshelf

On the bookshelf

Arc of life

Paul Salsini, Jour ’58, Grad ’85, learned about a World War II massacre at Sant’ Anna di Stazzema.

He visited the village in Italy and then honored his Italian roots and this piece of wartime history by writing his first book, The Cielo, A Novel of Wartime Tuscany. The novel that traces the lives of terrified villagers fleeing the Nazis won the Council for Wisconsin Writers Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award in 2006.

But when you’re wrapped up in a story, your characters become family who need to survive. So Salsini shadowed their lives in second and third sequels. “Trilogy has a nice ring to it,” he remembers thinking. And he truly intended to conclude the saga at three books. Still, the progeny of those early characters called to him and became the basis for his fourth, fifth and sixth books written in 10 years, a collection of Tuscan stories leading readers through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Is he finished? Yes, he thinks, with publication of The Fearless Flag Thrower of Lucca, Nine Stories of 1990s Tuscany, iUniverse books.

For all the alumni who wonder, yes, Salsini is still teaching students, now in his 47th year as an adjunct professor in the Diederich College of Communication.


  1. I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Cielo, A Novel of Wartime Tuscany. It is an enthralling, and sometimes gut-wrenching tale that brings a story of wartime Italy to life. I definitely plan on following this saga to its conclusion.

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