A profoundly moving history of Italy’s Jews under the shadow of the Holocaust, told through the lives of five Jewish Italian families: the Ovazzas of Turin, who prospered under Mussolini and whose patriarch became a prominent fascist; the Foas of Turin, whose children included both an antifascist activist and a Fascist Party member; the Di Verolis of Rome, who struggled for survival in the ghetto; the Teglios of Genoa, one of whom worked with the Catholic church to save hundreds of Jews; and the Schonheits of Ferrara, who were sent to Buchenwald and Ravensbruck. An extraordinary montage that resurrects a forgotten and tragic era.
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Alexander Stille is the author of Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic and Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and lives in New York City.
The complex experience of Italy's Jews under fascism is personified in the experiences of five families whose socioeconomic and geographic background and response to fascism varied, but who all were overtaken by the tragedy of the Italian holocaust. From fervent belief in fascism, through courageous resistance to the horrors of Buchenwald and back, the story is told in the words of the families themselves, interwoven with the author's clear and dispassionate historical narrative. This book is thoroughly researched and documented, but it is the distinctive and surprisingly calm voices of the families that provide a harrowing and deeply moving oral history. A worthy companion to such classics of the Italian holocaust as Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (HBJ, 1983) and Primo Levi's The Periodic Table ( LJ 1/85), this should be in all libraries with collections in European history or Jewish studies. For another book about Italian fascism, see Victoria de Grazia's How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy 1922-1945, reviewed in this issue, p. 93.--Ed.
- Barbara Walden, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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