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"Taut and illuminating' memorable' written with the humility of he who confesses himself and with the honesty of he who bore witness." Primo Levi "Luminous, almost light-hearted, autobiography about a family of Italian Jews under Mussolini." Frederic Raphael, Sunday Times Segre tells the story of his childhood and adolescence in Mussolini's Italy. Nurtured in a world of aristocratic privilege, he emerged naive and unprepared for the realities that awaited him. The crash of 1929 and the introduction of Mussolini's anti-Jewish laws saw him on the boat to Tel Aviv, a rare immigrant with a first-class ticket, jacket, silk tie and detachable linen collar, thrust into the pioneering culture of Palestine in the 1930s. Segre explores the pathos and contradictions of such situations with a keen sense of irony which lifts the book out of the world of memoirs and into the realm of literature.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781870015691
ISBN-10: 187001569X
Format: Paperback
(215mm x 140mm x 20mm)
Pages: 273
Imprint: Peter Halban Publishers Ltd
Publisher: Peter Halban Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 2-Nov-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » Child of an Italian fascist family which happened to be Jewish, the author's story of a life of comparative ease in an Italy still unaware of Mussolini's dark side is richly observed and full of strange contrasts. Servants, beautiful homes, positions of power and a devotion to Risorgimento did not in the end protect this family and others like them. Their Jewish heritage was reduced to bare essentials. The father fasted on Yom Kippur, they ate matzo during Passover and usually married other Jews, but they considered themselves very Italian. Their ancestors had supported the greats of Italian nationalism - Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi - and considered themselves patriots; Zionism interested them little. The father, a staunch fascist, never did leave Italy and somehow survived the war to have a touching reunion with his son, who returned in a British uniform as one of the conquering allies. There is exquisite detail here in the transformation of a 16-year-old assimilated Italian Jew into a Kibbutz resident, then a British officer, finally a man in contact with his roots. Segre escaped the Holocaust, but his own pereginations, physical and psychic, are illuminating and memorable. There is an honesty and sensitivity here, a warm evocation that is rare; the texture and the smells of an idyllic Italy before fascism bared its true face. This threnody of loss and painful enlightenment comes alive on every page. An unusual reminiscence, riveting and full of forgiveness. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Dan Vittorio Segre

Born in Italy in 1922, Dan Vittorio Segre lived in Israel for almost 50 years working as a diplomat, academic and journalist. He has now returned to the family home near Turin. Recently he helped found the Institute for Mediterranean Studies at the Italian University of Lugano, Switzerland.

Books By Author Dan Vittorio Segre

Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew by Dan Vittorio Segre

Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew

Paperback, April 2008
Memoirs of a Failed Diplomat by Dan Vittorio Segre

Memoirs of a Failed Diplomat

Hardback, March 2005