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From Paris to Berkeley Paperback – 14 Jul 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (14 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453626751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453626757
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,832,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Guy Benveniste, who spends his retirement from the University of California at Berkeley writing and painting, has here produced a remarkable memoir spanning eighty years of European, American and global history. Born in Paris to Jewish parents who had migrated there - he from Greece, she from America - he lived a typically affluent French bourgeois childhood before being forced to flee the Nazi holocaust, arriving first in Mexico and then in the United States where he graduated from Harvard. In a remarkable career that took him to the State Department, then to the World Bank and UNESCO, he helped to build up the prestigious International Institute for Educational Planning before moving on to professorial posts in Stanford and Berkeley. Everywhere he went, he worked with a remarkable variety of distinguished intellectual figures who became friends. He writes with huge affection of Berkeley as it went through the upheavals of the late 1960s, where it briefly appeared to the world as a precursor of an alternative new society. Anyone wanting a deeper personal insight into these years, written by a highly perceptive observer, has to read this book.From Paris to Berkeley
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Format: Paperback
Guy Benveniste, a diplomat and professor turned painter, chronicles his life in a memoir that is a richly coloured as his paintings. His story takes us from occupied France to the WWII-exiled community in Mexico, and then onto the golden era of the 1950's in America. The piece progresses chronologically, following the author's travels to the Middle East and Asia, but like Nabakov's prose, Benveniste lets his pen dip into flashbacks of his childhood and family stories of the past. This textured narrative not only gives the reader an intimate account of some of amusing events (a locked out-house in Afghanistan is one of many), but it paints a clairvoyant landscape of the times that only an artist could capture.
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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
From Paris to Berkeley 1 Aug. 2010
By David Trollman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A compelling memoir written by a man who's lived a rich and fascinating life, From Paris to Berkeley chronicles a life that leads us from a vibrant Parisian Sephardic community to a Berkeley academic ghetto, across France through Spain to Mexico, from right coast to left, with stops at Harvard, Stanford, and Washington. Guy Benveniste's a charming and disarming author of rich experience with a devastating turn of phrase. I burned through the book and was sorry when I finished.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Fabulous Book for Jews, Christians and Muslims! 17 Sept. 2012
By Sumner Jules Glimcher, Professor Emeritus, NYU - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although Guy Benveniste and I have never met, he and I have had several parallel experiences. Chief among them is that both of us spent 1946 to 1948 at Harvard at the same time without ever once encountering each other. His father and mine were both born in 1891. And as best as I know, we both are the only members of Harvard's Class of '48 who wrote memoirs! He was born in Paris and he traces his family origins back to Spain prior to the Inquisition. The little known rescue of 200,000 Jews by the Ottoman Empire in 1492 brought the Benvenistes to Salonika, a major hub for Sephardic Jews, which was also the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who brought Turkey into the modern world. Sarajevo, also an enclave of emigrating Jews, was the town where Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, providing the spark that ignited World War I. Thus Guy's early life was culturally influenced by some of the most significant locations to Jewish families of the 20th Century. His fascinating memoir, "From Paris to Berkeley," tells us about Jewish history and culture and he discusses attire, cuisine, professions, and rabbinical life by bringing early Jewish life into sharp focus. Not only do we learn about Jewish life but also French, Turkish, Greek, Spanish and Portuguese. The family moved to Paris and his parents were married in the Jewish-Portuguese temple in 1926. Guy was born in 1927, three years after my birth, and I find it fascinating to learn of a life so remarkably different from my own. Guy grew up in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower under the supervision of English nannies. His father was an early Parisian owning his own automobile. In 1942, to avoid the holocaust, the family escaped from France via Nice, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon and Casablanca on their way to Mexico City where Guy attended the American School and was initiated into his first sexual experiences. Accepted at Harvard in 1945, he became a member of the Class of 1948, which later became my Class, as well. In 1950, Guy returned to Mexico City, married and he and his wife, in an unusual arrangement for that time, agreed to an "open marriage!" They agreed that each might have occasional other lovers, providing that each tell the other of other sexual encounters. Guy then began a series of high-level professional endeavors that brought him to the Stanford Research Institute, USAID, TIME/LIFE, the Kennedy White House, the Department of State, UNESCO, the World Bank, and the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development. His travels took him to Paris, Spain, Geneva, Kabul, Delhi, and Tokyo, where he stayed at The Imperial Hotel (where I also once stayed). This amazing memoir has more adventure than most novels and is brilliantly written. Aside from a wealth of knowledge, it is the story of a unique life well lived, and I recommend it highly, not only to Jews, but to Christians and Muslims, as well!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Remarkable story, engagingly told 15 Jan. 2011
By Fritzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Previous reviewers have well captured the essence of From Paris to Berkeley. It is one of those books that you'll think about long after you've read it. It's a remarkable and sweeping true story, engagingly told.

Benvenista's accounting of his family's and his lives, from early years in Paris, escaping Nazi-occupied France, to living in Mexico and finally California, is a dramatic (and often witty) accounting of family and marital dynamics, persecution, adventure, and is told with more candid details of personal sexual awakenings and experiences than one usually gets from autobiographers. It's a page-turner.
A superb and engaging memoir 19 Oct. 2010
By Robert Girling - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Guy Benveniste's memoir is a fascinating read written by a man who has lived it all. It is a well written story of his rich and enduring life. From Paris to Berkeley starts with an expert history of the Sephardic community of Salonika in northern Greece and then chronicles the family's migration to Parisian Sephardic community. Beneveniste recounts his boyhood and details of his many thwarted crushes. The family is then forced to leave with the invasion of the Nazis. The family moves to Vichy France ending in Nice and once again leaving just ahead of the Nazis as the family flees first to Spain and then to Mexico. He chronicles his coming of age in a long lost Mexico City. After schooling in Mexico he finds himself at Harvard followed by a stint working as an engineer in Mexico and as an early World Bank employee and at the Stanford Research Institute--he modestly recounts his career punctuating it with a series of affairs in his new age open marriage. Guy Benveniste's wit and wry charm beguile the reader and the pages fly by. As with any engaging book I was sorry when I finished it.
a painter who decided to become a writer 4 Oct. 2010
By Sabrina Errera - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Guy Benveniste, a diplomat and professor turned painter, chronicles his life in a memoir that is a richly coloured as his paintings. His story takes us from occupied France to the WWII-exiled community in Mexico, and then onto the golden era of the 1950's in America. The piece progresses chronologically, following the author's travels to the Middle East and Asia, but like Nabakov's prose, Benveniste lets his pen dip into flashbacks of his childhood and family stories of the past. This textured narrative not only gives the reader an intimate account of some of amusing events (a locked out-house in Afghanistan is one of many), but it paints a clairvoyant landscape of the times that only an artist could capture.
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