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Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew: An Italian Story
 
 

Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew: An Italian Story [Kindle Edition]

Dan Vittorio Segre
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £10.99
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Review

'A fascinating description of childhood in Fascist Italy, a moving account of adolescence in Mandatory Palestine, an extraordinary book, very sad and very funny at the same time.' -- Walter Laqueur

'A spellbinding biography of genuine literary value that reads like an adventure story. Those familiar with the bitter and depressing tone of the Jews' misfortunes in the maelstrom of wars and holocausts will derive a unique freshness from the irony, humour and sensuality of Dan Segre, who acknowledges that he is a fortunate Jew.' -- A. B. Yehoshua

'He is good at reconstructing events and even better at the more difficult art of recapturing moods and atmospheres ... an unusually attractive book - attractive in its irony, its energy and its moral insight. Mr Segre had some rich material to work with, and he has done it justice.' -- John Gross, The New York Times

'Imagine an Italian Jew from a prominent but impoverished Piedmont family serving in the British Army alongside an Arab and under a Jewish Palestinian sergeant, and you have in a nutshell the cultural confusion Professor Segre so cannily explores in this labyrinthine, spell-binding autobiography, full of passionate tenderness.' -- Encounter

'Luminous, almost light-hearted, autobiography about a family of Italian Jews under Mussolini.' -- Frederic Raphael, Books of the Year, Sunday Times

'Taut and illuminating ... memorable ... written with the humility of he who confesses himself and with the honesty of he who bore witness.' -- Primo Levi

'The only thing most of us know clearly about Nazis is that they were the scum of the earth, but this pathetic, marginal, and in the end rejected Italian fascist does not fit into any Europe or any history that most of us know ... He must be a man of extraordinary moral courage and self-knowledge, since nowhere does he deal lightly with himself ... Maybe the final heroism was to write this book ... I think this book is unique and a sort of masterpiece.' -- Peter Levi, The Independent

'The tone of Segre's beautifully written autobiography, which reads like a Bildungsroman, is certainly ironic rather than tragic.'

Adrian Lyttelton, (The New York Review of Books) -- (

Product Description

The author’s childhood was spent in Fascist Italy of the 1920s and 1930s. Assimilated Jews, the family’s relationship to their country was stronger than to their religion. Their subsequent fortunes and misfortunes were intricately tied to what would prove to be conflicting loyalties.

Segre emerged as an adolescent, 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 Mandatory Palestine, 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’s humour and irony explore the pathos and contradictions of such situations which have characterised his life.

‘A haunting tale, beautifully written and with a talent, reminiscent of Proust, to endow the past with a deep psychological meaning … A stunning exercise in self-awareness.’
Amos Elon

 ‘A fascinating description of childhood in Fascist Italy, a moving account of adolescence in Mandatory Palestine, an extraordinary book, very sad and very funny at the same time.’
Walter Laqueur

 ‘A spellbinding biography of genuine literary value that reads like an adventure story. Those familiar with the bitter and depressing tone of the Jews’ misfortunes in the maelstrom of wars and holocausts will derive a unique freshness from the irony, humour and sensuality of Dan Segre, who acknowledges that he is a fortunate Jew.’
A.B. Yehoshua
      
 ‘Luminous, almost light-hearted, autobiography about a family of Italian Jews under Mussolini.’
Frederic Raphael, Books of the Year, Sunday Times

The tone of Segre’s beautifully written autobiography, which reads like a Bildungsroman, is certainly ironic rather than tragic.’
Adrian Lyttelton, The New York Review of Books

‘Imagine an Italian Jew from a prominent but impoverished Piedmont family serving in the British Army alongside an Arab and under a Jewish Palestinian sergeant, and you have in a nutshell the cultural confusion Professor Segre so cannily explores in this labyrinthine, spell-binding autobiography, full of passionate tenderness.’
Encounter

‘This distinguished book has a structure as rigorously cut and shaped as any novel. Segre’s good fortune, which many a novelist would envy, consists in the end in his power to mould his diverse experiences into a deeply satisfying symbol of modern life triumphing over the forces of adversity. Even where so many were hideously defeated, we may rejoice over one who survived and who has celebrated his luck in such captivating fashion.’
Patrick Parrinder, London Review of Books

‘A man of scrupulous integrity, great intelligence, wit and humility, Segre describes his childhood in Fascist Italy and youth in wartime Palestine in quite brilliantly captivating and moving prose.’
The Jewish Chronicle

‘Taut and illuminating ... memorable ... written with the humility of he who confesses himself and with the honesty of he who bore witness.’
Primo Levi

‘The only thing most of us know clearly about Nazis is that they were the scum of the earth, but this pathetic, marginal, and in the end rejected Italian fascist does not fit into any Europe or any history that most of us know ... He must be a man of extraordinary moral courage and self-knowledge, since nowhere does he deal lightly with himself ... Maybe the final heroism was to write this book ... I think this book is unique and a sort of masterpiece.’
Peter Levi, The Independent

‘He is good at reconstructing events and even better at the more difficult art of recapturing moods and atmospheres ... an unusually attractive book - attractive in its irony, its energy and its moral insight. Mr Segre had some rich material to work with, and he has done it justice.’
John Gross, The New York Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 506 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Halban; New Ed edition (19 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007JVX6KO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #220,051 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Precious testimony 15 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback
I adored this book when I first read it, but I couldn't have told you why. Looking at it again, I see it is beautifully translated; that always helps. (Though translation is perhaps not the right word, since the author, being like the good European Jew he is at home in multiple tongues from French to Friulian, undertook it himself.) The Italian portion occupies getting on for half, and one doesn't see how Palestine's 'dessicated vitality' can possibly match up, but one has only to meet the tamarind seller on p113-14 to be hooked. The short-lived phenomenon Pinglish was new to me, as was the - I suspect equally short-lived - idea of recruiting Palestinian women to succour the Holocaust's remnant. Amid the chronicle there is much self-analysis (but, pace the other reviewer, he is really very engaging) and dizzying politico-philosophical discussion redolent of its period (there's a similar feel, if I recall, to Koestler's Scum of the Earth) but the whole is cunningly, lovingly constructed; youth's bluster and confusions have rarely been better conveyed. Chapter 10's extraordinary - just don't cheat and read it out of context. Among many great memoirs, a disproportionate number of them Jewish, this one's a stayer
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars V good book but product description incorrect! 7 Sep 2012
By Laura R
Format:Kindle Edition
Memoirs of A Fortunate Jew by Dan Vittorio Segre are the memories of Segre who grew up in Fascist Italy and left just prior to World War 2. He emigrated to Palestine where he joined the British Army and worked in intelligence for six years.

He describes his life after the war in the early years of the State of Israel as an academic and diplomat.

The product described in the blurb is a totally different book it
is"A Middle Eastern Affair" by Ellis Douek

This book is the memoir of an ENT Surgeon Ellis Douek, who was born and spent his childhood in Cairo. After the Suez Crisis his parents moved the family to Bradford. He t spent time studying in Paris with his sister the well known cookery writer Claudia Roden before qualifiying as a doctor in London.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What an odd book... 29 July 2010
By Jezza
Format:Paperback
Very hard to categorise, and a mixed bag of impressions/reactions. Some of this is memories of Segre's childhood in a comfortable, assimilated Italian Jewish family - father a local notable, stalwarts of the local fascist party, no experience of anti-semitism or Judaism or secular Jewish culture; some of it is his experience of migrating to Palestine during the war, and serving as Palestinian Jew in the British Army. The tone sits somewhere between self-deprecating and self-loathing - it's often quite uncomfortable how much the older Segre seems to dislike his younger self, though it's always well observed. He doesn't seem crazy about anyone else either - the women he falls in love with, the British, the Arabs, the Zionists. Only the Italians seem to come off lightly - as honest and decent, even when they are Fascists. Glad I read it, but won't be racing to read his critical thoughts on Israel and Zionism - what I've got from this suggests there won't be any startling insights.
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