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Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism
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Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  90 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
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 fo ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Picador (first published 1991)
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Violet wells
Jan 28, 2016 Violet wells rated it really liked it
A brilliantly and thoroughly researched account of the plights of five different Italian Jewish families during WW2. Alexander Stille, the author, has interviewed surviving members of each of the families and presents a narrative history pulsing with riveting and profoundly moving anecdotes.

The families live in different cities – Turin, Ferrara, Rome and Genoa. There are several truly memorable characters. There’s Ettore Ovazzi who is a militant fascist and remains so even after the anti-Semiti
Jul 20, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it
Different cities and districts in Italy during the 1930's and 1940's all seem to have had greatly varying numbers of Jewish populations. Multiplied by so many various class and/or work occupation status. And the reactions and complicated levels of anti-fascism as varied, as well. So this is researched history with literally hundreds of documented characters within 5 family groups and their lives and outcomes during these years. It is a difficult read, it does not read as a novel. Turin so differ ...more
Apr 06, 2012 Marian rated it it was amazing
Walking around Rome you occasionally notice small brass squares embedded in the sidewalk, each one engraved with the name of an Italian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz. In some cases entire families including babies were deported and killed. This story is horrifying but fairly well-known.

Benevolence and Betrayal goes beyond the familiar horror into the more complex nature of the experience of Italian Jews, who were (and are) deeply assimilated into Italian society, and reluctant to believe that t
This book provides fantastic insight into the plight of Italian Jews during the Holocaust. I found it especially poignant to read while living in Italy, so close to many of the events. The fate of Jews during this period was not cut and dry and neither was the response on the part of the Italian government. I was most impressed to learn the pivotal role played by the Catholic leadership in Genoa (where we currently reside), who worked alongside the Jewish underground to rescue thousands of Jews. ...more
Joan Brown
Feb 19, 2008 Joan Brown rated it really liked it
Recommended to Joan by: Kelly Hicks
Fascinating book. At first I felt a bit like I was reading a textbook, but, especially with the later families and with the updates on these families at the end, I feel that I know the people, though as always I stand in awe of their bravery. I can't imagine risks like this - the hiding and running from, or risking the dangers of providing sanctuary for...The wealth of primary source research made this come alive. The letters and diaries and reported conversations are those of real people, not j ...more
Mar 23, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
Excellent non-fictional discussion of five extended Italian families under Fascism, with a detailed and fascinating explanation of historical trends, currents, etc. Well-written, easy to follow and well documented.
Kelly Hicks
First Stille book I read, and I was totally hooked. Such a compelling history of these families. I had no idea of the details of Italian Jewish families under fascism, usually because Hitler and Nazism takes center stage. I learned so much about the historical situation of the Jews in Italy--starting in Roman times and up through WWII.
Iain McNab
I was led to this through Bassani's beautiful novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. This history of five Italian Jewish families under fascism fleshes out much of the historical background to the novel and is equally moving on the personal tragedies.
Aug 19, 2010 Judy rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy, non-fiction
Not always "easy reading" but a solid exploration of how Italy moved from a place where Jews were at home to a place where they were at risk during WWII. Alexander Stille is an American journalist with a historical bent.
Sep 25, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This book sheds light on the little-covered WWII experiences of Italian Jewish families. It is a great book - I had a hard time putting it down and didn't want it to end.
Danielle Fogerty
Jul 30, 2010 Danielle Fogerty rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book about Italian Jews during WW2 a subject I haven't read alot about. I would reccomend this book to anyone interested in the Holocaust
May 14, 2012 Kimberlee rated it it was amazing
heartbreaking / fascinating stories of Italian Jews in WWII Italy.
Feb 22, 2010 Lu marked it as half-read
Shelves: italy, jew
Got up to pg. 210. Good but not in the mood
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