In This Review

The Italians and the Holocaust
The Italians and the Holocaust
By Susan Zuccotti
Basic Books, 1987, 334 pp.
Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew: An Italian Story
Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew: An Italian Story
By Dan Vittorio Segre
Adler & Adler, 1987, 274 pp.

Susan Zuccotti has written a major work that integrates the story of individual lives with the general history of Italian Jewry during World War II: at once an evocation and a deeply empathetic analysis. The rate of survival among Italian Jewry was exceptionally high, but why, the author wonders, in a country largely free of anti-Semitism were many allowed to perish? The drama of life at a time of unimaginable trials is carefully, poignantly reconstructed, as are the acts of courage and baseness and the inexplicable accidents of fate. A moving, marvelously balanced study, an example of truly humane scholarship, which asks profound questions about the holocaust and provides a knowledgeable portrait of Italian society under fascism. Professor Segre's book is a brilliant recollection of youth spent in fascist Italy with a fascist father who in 1939 helped his 17-year-old son to emigrate to Palestine. Memorable vignette of several lives and cultures.