Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew

An Italian Story

“I was probably less than five years old when my father fired a shot at my head.” From this first line, Dan Vittorio Segre’s memoir moves from one startling turning point to the next. The child of aristocratic parents, Segre fled Fascist Italy and Mussolini’s anti-Semitic laws only to be thrust into the pioneering culture of Palestine, completely unprepared for the dangers of life in Israel during World War II. Beautifully narrated, Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew is an ironic, philosophical meditation on the historical reverberations of the twentieth century.
 
“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 writing of memoirs is a difficult art that Dan Segre fully possesses. Under his pen, history and psychology merge in one captivating narrative which illuminates the turmoils, fears and triumphs of his generation.”—Elie Wiesel
 
“Beautifully written. . . . [A] labyrinthine, spell-binding autobiography, full of passionate tenderness.”—New York Review of Books
 
“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.”—New York Times 
 

 

Read an excerpt.


284 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 1987

Biography and Letters

History: European History

Jewish Studies

Reviews

“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 writing of memoirs is a difficult art that Dan Segre fully possesses. Under his pen, history and psychology merge in one captivating narrative which illuminates the turmoils, fears, and triumphs of his generation.”

Elie Wiesel

“[A] beautifully written autobiography."

Adrain Lyttelton | New York Review of Books

“[The author] comes to learn . . . that life ’is stronger than evil.’ Such knowledge, in a book that registers moments of profound alienation and pain, is no small achievement. That Mr. Segre has been able to accomplish so much in a story filled with significant historical as well as personal detail is everyone’s gain."

Alvin Rosenfield | New York Times

"An unusually attractive book--attractive in its irony, its energy and its moral insight.Mr. Segre has some rich material to work with, and he has done it justice."

John Gross

"This book is unique and a sort of masterpiece."

Patrick Parrinder | London Review of Books

"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 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."

A.B. Yehoshua

“I bought the book without anticipating that I would not be able to put it down. Why did the book strike me so forcibly? It is beautifully and sensitively written, but more importantly it traces the author’s remarkable journey from the very heights of Italian Fascist society to a kibbutz in pre-Israeli Palestine, and finally back to his native land as an officer in the Palestine (Jewish) regiment of the British Army. One of the chapters is entitled ‘My Jewish-Fascist Childhood,’ and the combination of these two adjectives best expresses the extraordinary nature of the circumstances that Segre evokes. . . . Segre’s later chapters, which deal with his bewildering encounter with Israel, are fascinating. They provide an engrossing picture of the ferment, both personal and intellectual, that the hitherto sheltered Italian youth encountered. . . . These chapters are filled with indelible portraits of the striking and sometimes disturbingly eccentric individuals that crossed young Segre’s path, some of whom had come to Palestine out of idealistic conviction and others only seeking to escape from oppression.”

Joseph Frank | New Republic

Table of Contents

1. The Pistol
2. Faith and Boredom
3. My Jewish-Facist Childhood
4. The Tombstone
5. A Fascist Cadet in Zion
6. Smell and Fear
7. The Court-Martial
8. Jerusalem
9. Broadcasting Intermezzo
10. Berenika
11. Bitter Fortune

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press