Friday, August 21, 2009

It Happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina

Stories from World War II have always fascinated me. Usually, once I start a book that concerns the war or the Holocaust, I can't put it down; and if it concerns Italy, my dream retirement destination, then I am there. This book was somewhat different for me, though.
It Happened in Italy is the untold story of how the Italians helped to save some thirty thousand plus Jews and "undesirables" during World War II. They were very kind to them and hid them, and although some of the Jews were placed in internment camps, they were nothing like the concentration camps of Hitler. The "prisoners" were sometimes allowed to live in the towns, and they became close friends with not only the villagers, but also with the police. They were even allowed to visit family kept in the actual internment camps. The internment camps themselves were just basically a home away from home. The people were treated very well. They were not allowed to work, so they found other ways of entertaining themselves. I was fascinated by the stories of the survivors, and sometimes I was very sad to find out that most of their families who were not in Italy or, in some cases had left Italy, had not survived.

Although their stories fascinated me, the book left me begging for more. The author seemed to talk a lot about her own personal life and travels, and, I hesitate to say this, but there were places like this in the book where I became very bored. When the survivors' stories were on the page, I devoured it, but a lot of the book did concern the author, and it was just not what I had expected. It is a wonderful story, and it should be told; but I think that it could have been told in a different way without all the personal anecdotes and sporadic self writings.
I do like how she lists all of the survivors who were interned in Campagna and all the survivors who she interviewed. This allows for better research.

I'm not sorry that I reviewed this book, however. It has left me with a thirst to find out more about this subject. I would not have known about this, had I not read it, and I totally agree with the author and the survivors that the world needs to know their story.

If you'd like to read more reviews about this book, you can find them at Thomas Nelson.


T. Anne August 21, 2009 at 11:25 AM  

I must read this my hubby's Italian, it's the law right? ;)

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