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Friday, May 15, 2009

It Happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina

It Happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina is essentially a travel journal recounting the author's journey of discovery as she tries to elucidate the truth about how Jews were treated in WWII Italy. Along the way you'll meet several holocaust survivors who will testify that if they had not been in Italy, they would not have survived the war. While certainly not a scholarly work, it is a heartwarming story of goodness and humanity at a time of horrible atrocities. The book itself, although 384 pages, is a quick read with simple prose and plenty of black and white pictures (both from WWII and present day) of the survivors.

The book is meant to be a factual account of the survivors telling their stories and of their modern-day return to Italy to thank their benefactors. The tone is almost gushing at times (lots of exclamations) and the text not particularly descriptive. You don't get a sense of being there with them, just of the author constantly telling you how exciting this all is, and in the end you'll feel like you still don't really know very much about the topic or the people involved. Ms. Bettina' s prose is repetitious and quite often confusing as she fails to give a real sense of how much time passes from one event to another. Overall, it was a disappointing read, but maybe it will spur me on to find out more on my own.

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