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It Happened in Italy: Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; First Edition edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595551026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595551023
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elizabeth Bettina is a native New Yorker who lived in Italy. Elizabeth graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.  At present, she works in marketing in New York.


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Customer Reviews

The book actually reads like a blog.
Diana L. Shores
This is an amazing story about holocaust survivors in Italy that was so rivetting I could not put it down.
Patti Chadwick
So, it was with Elizabeth Bettina and the story of Jewish internment camps in Italy in WWII.
Emily Decobert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By sec682 VINE VOICE on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is not your typical book on the Holocaust - this one turned out to be heartwarming, rather than heartbreaking. It was not quite what I was expecting though. While it did relay the "untold stories of how the people of Italy defied the horrors of the holocaust" as the title states, the majority of the book actually dealt with the discovery of these stories and the subsequent trips back to Italy for the survivors, and the special friendships that were subsequently formed. There are actually only a handful of the untold stories, and most of them sound identical. The reason for that, however, is because of what even the survivors say - "nothing really happened to us there". Basically, the author discovers that there was an internment camp for Jews in Campagna, the small town that her family is from. After a series of sheer luck incidents, she discovers that these camps were all over Italy, and that the survivors of them were ready to talk about them. The interesting thing, is that barely anyone knows that these camps existed - including the current residents of these Italian towns. These camps were not death camps like Auschwitz, in fact, they were quite opposite. Technically yes, the Jews were in internment camps, but they were pretty much free to do as they pleased so long as they adhered to a few basic rules, such as obey curfew, and check in with the police everyday. Families were kept together, not torn apart. Weddings took place, children were born, they went to school, made friends with the locals, and were even allowed to be buried in a special section of the cemetery that had been requested by the Jews. In fact, they were even allowed to practice their religion. One synagogue was even set up inside an old convent attached to a Catholic church!Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Hall on January 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The book "It Happened In Italy" presents us with a wonderful and untold WWII story: the story of the Jews who survived, and actually didn't have that bad of a time, thanks to Italian Catholics who helped them hide and escape from the clutches of the Nazis.

The problem with this book is that it doesn't really tell this story.

Oh, we do get personal stories of survivors, and the clear difference between being in a camp in Italy and a camp anywhere else in Europe. (Many survivors said that living in a prison camp in Italy was like being in "a hotel"). As I said, it's a wonderful, upbeat story of WWII -- and a story we haven't heard before, which is a shame.

However, this book is mainly about the author, Elizabeth Bettina, and her experiences after she dug up this story and helped a few of the survivors go back to Italy to visit the people who helped them survive. And that's the problem with this book! It's only partly about those incidents during WWII. It's mostly about Elizabeth Bettina and the coincidences she encountered and good times she had.

Granted, from story-telling point of view, "We didn't have that bad a time, and we escaped and lived happy lives," isn't all that dramatic of a story. Twenty or thirty stories like that get a bit samey. But when a book pertains to be about an incident during WWII, it should be about THAT, and not about someone finding out about that. I felt that instead of being titled "It Happened in Italy", it should have been titled, "My Adventures In And Around What Happened In Italy." (Less succinct, but more precise.) In fact, this has been a problem with a number of recent non-fiction books I've read lately; they didn't need to be in first person, and in fact could have benefited by not being in first-person.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By JJ on July 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The subject is interesting - but unfortunately this was more a book about discovering the story - or a book about writing this book. I would have been far more interested in reading the story itself, not reading about the author's journey in writing this book. Having read many books on the holocaust i was quite interested in finally reading something about the situation in italy, but felt duped - as it was really a book about the author.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Famolari VINE VOICE on May 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Before reading this book, I had only heard the dreadful tales of Holocaust survivors from the German camps. Thanks to Elizabeth Bettina we now know that the Italian camps were humane and comfortable. It was heart warming to hear stories of Italians helping Jews survive the dreadful atrocities committed during World War II. I couldn't stop reading.

A book of story after story about the heroic actions of the Italians in the hill towns could quickly become boring unless the reader had a personal interest. However, this book reads like a detective story. Starting with the discovery of a surprising picture showing Jews picnicking in an Italian concentration camp, we follow Elizabeth Bettina and Vince Marmorale on a surprising journey as they trace the survivors from the camp in Campagna, home of Elizabeth's relatives. As the tales unfold and intertwine, the reader is pulled into the story wondering what will happen next. How many more people will find they're tied to each other through the camps in the Italy?

The book is filled with photos and documents validating the story. These in themselves are precious. I felt amazement along with the author, as person after person produced pictures and official papers documenting their story. It's still hard to believe how different the treatment of Jews in Italy was from that of Jews in Germany. It was a pleasure to read this wonderful story.
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