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Growing Up in War Torn Italy: Mannella Distinguished Speaker Series Highlights Donato De Simone

Donato De Simone, a WWII survivor, educator and author of a compelling memoir, Suffer the Children: Growing up in Italy during WWII, will share vivid stories about events that occurred while he was growing up during the war. De Simone’s appearance is part of the Alfred F. Mannella and Rose T. Lauria-Mannella Distinguished Speakers Series.

This featured talk will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 1:30 p.m. in Falvey Memorial Library’s first floor lounge.

De Simone was born in 1932 in Fossacesia, a small town on the Adriatic coast in Abruzzo, Italy. In writing his memoirs, he established a number of fundamental themes, such as how children, the elderly and the handicapped are the real victims of war and that there are no victors in war– only losers.

The author recollects the events he experienced as a child and evaluates them from an adult perspective. Though his memoir speaks of disturbing events, it makes the readers realize that the one element that is never present in a war situation is justice, because, in his opinion, if justice were present there would be no war.

De Simone also discussed how the Italians secretly harbored thousands of Jews without being recognized for their bravery.

At 28 he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English from Villanova University and a master’s in Italian from Rutgers University. He is fluent in English and Italian, and has taught French and Classical Greek. After learning English, De Simone taught the subject to American students in both high school and college.

De Simone has been married to his childhood sweetheart, the former Anna Maria Fantini for over 50 years. They have four children and three grandchildren.

The event is open to the public. Copies of Donato De Simone’s book, Suffer the Children: Growing up in Italy during WWII will be available for purchase.

By Akua K. Adoo, Publications & Communication intern, and Natalie Tomasco

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Last Modified: January 25, 2010

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