First Words: A Childhood in Fascist Italy
In 1937, Rosetta Loy was a privileged five-year-old growing up among the well-to-do Catholic intelligentsia of Rome. But her childhood world of indulgent nannies and summers in the mountains was also the world of Mussolini's fascist regime and the increasing oppression of Italian Jews. Loy interweaves the two Italys of her early years, revealing the willful ignorance of her own family as one by one their Jewish neighbors disappeared. She indicts journalists and intellectuals for their blindness and passivity, and presents a searing and dispassionate record of the role of the Vatican and Catholic leadership in the devastation of Italian Jewry.
Written in crystalline prose, First Words offers an uncommon perspective on the Holocaust -- that of one writer as she struggles to reconcile her memories of a happy childhood with her adult knowledge of one of the world's most horrifying tragedies.
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