Partial Bibliography for A Thread of Grace

This is not an academic bibliography and includes only a small percentage of the books I consulted while writing. Nevertheless, I still feel a scholar’s duty to acknowledge my debt to a number of published sources.

For those interested in the issue of unforgivable sin, I recommend :

  • Simon Wiesenthal (1997) The Sunflower: On the possibilities and limits of forgiveness, Schoken Press, NY, with commentary from 53 theologians, philosophers, jurists, and victims of genocidal wars.

In addition to interviewing individuals listed in the Acknowledgment at the end of the book, I found inspiration in the following for important elements of the characters and events in A Thread of Grace.

  • Alexander Stille (1991) Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism, Summit Books, NY. The original impetus for A Thread of Grace; see especially The Rabbi, the Priest and the Aviator: a story of rescue in Genoa. Inspiration for the Soncini family, Renzo Leoni, and Don Osvaldo Tomitz.
  • Alfred Feldman (2001) One Step Ahead:A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler’s Europe, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. Details of the Jewish flight from occupied France to Italy on September 8, 1943; of Piemonte peasant life and of the welcome given to Jewish refugees. I also traveled to Piemonte and Liguria with Mr. Feldman in 1998, and he read an early draft of the story for me. Inspiration for the Blums’ story.
  • Harry Burger (1997) Biancastella: A Jewish Partisan in World War Two,University Press of Colorado, Niwat, Co. Memoir of a Jewish refugee who fled to Italy on September 8, 1943 and joined the Italian partisans. Inspiration for Duno Brossler.
  • Tullio Bruno Bertini (1998) Trapped in Tuscany: Liberated by the Buffalo Soldiers, Dante University Press, Boston. Extraordinarily detailed memoir of childhood in the Italian countryside during the war. Mr. Bertini also read an early draft of the novel for me. See below for Mr. Bertini’s translation of the Italian Race Laws of 1938.
  • Faye Schulman (1995) A Partisan’s Memoir: Woman of the Holocaust, Second Story Press, Toronto, Ontario. Details of partisan life in Poland; her experiences as a medic became inspiration for Duno’s.
  • Hermann Wygoda (1998) In the Shadow of the Swastika, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago. Wygoda’s story provided the inspiration for the character Jakub Landau and is the source of the assessment of female partisans as “the bravest of the brave.”
  • Roy F. Baumeister (1997) Evil: Inside Human Cruelty and Violence, WH Freeman, NY. The single best source I found for understanding perpetrators of evil; inspiration for Werner Schramm, and several other characters.
  • Robert N. Proctor (1988) Racial Hygiene: medicine under the Nazis, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. Details of German medical practice under Hitler; professional background for Schramm.
  • Robert N. Proctor (1999) The Nazi War on Cancer, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ. I didn’t make it up: they really did know that tobacco causes lung cancer.
  • Hugh Gregory Gallagher (1990) By Trust Betrayed: Patients, Physicians and the License to Kill in the Third Reich, Vandamere Press, Arlington VA. Tracks the development of Nazi T4 euthanasia program to the death camps; background for Schramm’s career.
  • Jonathan Kaplan (2001) The Dressing Station: a surgeon’s chronicle of war and medicine. Grove Press, NY. Technical background for Schramm’s skills.
  • Jack Olsen (1968) Silence on Monte Sole, Putnam, NY. Details of peasant life and inspiration for the destruction of San Mauro.
  • William Pickering (with Alan Hart) The Bandits of Cisterna, Leo Cooper, London. Details of partisan actions, and the inspiration for Simon Henley.
  • Eric Newby (1971) Love and War in the Apenines, Hodder and Stoughton, London. Details of peasant life, relationships between Italian peasants and downed RAF men.
  • Giovanni Pesce (1972) And No Quarter: an Italian Partisan in World War II. Ohio University Press translation. Memoir of urban and rural partisan warfare from the Communist perspective. I also interviewed Signor Pesce in 1999.
  • Edda Servi Machlin (1993) The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews I: Traditional Recipes and Menus, and a Memoir of a Vanished Way of Life, Giro Press, Croton on Hudson, NY. Many details of Italian Jewish family life, and the inspiration for Renzo’s first flight.
  • I interviewed her brother Gino Servi in 1999.
  • Iris Origo (1947) War in Val D’Orcia 1943-44: a diary. David R Godine, Boston. The Villa Malcovato and Mirella’s life there are based on this diary.
  • David Downie (1997) Enchanted Liguria, Rizzoli International Publications, NY. Descriptions of Ligurian life, food, architecture, etc.
  • Amery, Jean (1980, translation) At the Mind’s Limits: contemplation by a survivor of Auschwitz and its realities. Indiana University Press, Bloomington. The firsthand experience of torture; details used in the description of Don Osvald’s torture.
  • Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, Volker Riess (1988) The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders. Konecky and Konecky, NY. Insight into Erhardt von Thadden and his officers.
  • Colin Heaton (2001) German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe 1939-1945, Schiffer Military History, Atglen PA. Details of co-opting native anti-communists to fight the Allies and their partisan supporters.
  • Gerald Reitlinger (1957) The SS: Alibi of a Nation. Viking Press, NY
  • Gordon Williamson (1995) SS: The Blood-Soaked Soil. Motorbooks International, Osceola Wisconsin
  • Nicola Caracciolo, ed. (1986) Uncertain Refuge: Italy and the Jews during the Holocaust, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago. Interviews with Italian rescuers and refugees. Inspiration for Bettina Lovera.
  • Ivor Herzer (1989) The Italian Refuge: rescue of Jews during the Holocaust, papers presented at the National Italian American Foundation Conference at Boston University Nov. 1986), Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC. Includes work by Italian and foreign Jews who were rescued by Italian Catholics, as well as political and historical details of the era.
  • Susan Zuccotti (1988) The Italians and the Holocaust : Persecution, Rescue and Survival. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE.
  • Susan Zuccotti (2000) Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy, Yale University Press, New Haven. Although I did not deal with the controversy about Pius XII during the war, this is a good study of the issue.
  • Meir Michaelis (1978) Mussolini and the Jews: German Italian Relations and the Jewish Question in Italy 1922-45. Detailed history.
  • Richard Lamb (1993) War in Italy, St. Martins Press, London.
  • John Strawson (1988) The Italian Campaign (1943-45), Carroll and Graf, NY.
  • Robert Katz (2003) The Battle for Rome: the Germans, the Allies, the Partisans and the Pope September 1943 – June 1944, Simon and Shuster, NY. Includes a lot about Carla Capponi, one of the partisans I interviewed in 1999.
  • Robert Waite (1993) Adolf Hitler: The Psychopathic God, Da Capo Press, NY. Source of details about the private life of Hitler.