Stephan Silva has written an important first novel that depicts the dilemma that the Italian people faced in World War II. The armed forces originally were fighting on behalf of an independent Italy for colonial expansion in Africa. Their integrity was compromised by Mussolini's alliance with Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany, with terrible consequences.

Before long, Italy was embroiled in a war on its own soil. Allied forces were conducting an aerial bombardment, even as German SS Troops terrorized Italian citizens. Worst of all, political factions arose to fill the void of a government collapse. The most brutal of these were the communist partisans who gave and received no quarter from the Nazis. These irregular forces had an eye on post-war Europe and wished Italy to be placed behind the Iron Curtain as a Russian satellite nation

Based on the actual World War II experience of the author's great-uncle, a pilot in the Regia Aeronautica, Heaven Cries conveys the disillusionment, anguish and indomitable spirit of people betrayed first by their elected leader, then by their ally. It shows with chilling realism how the desire for freedom can become a commitment to overthrowing an oppressive regime. Most significantly, it reminds us of the true spring waters of freedom: hope, kindness, courage, and love.

In the dark light of recent events, this history is particularly relevant. Heaven Cries is not simply part of our past: it is also our present.

By Nicholas Gage, author of bestseller Eleni