La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience

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9780060924416: La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience

From the early Italian adventurers who played an important role in the European expansion across the Atlantic to the political and business leaders of the 1990s, this book tells a dramatic story. The heart of the story is the mass migration that took place between 1880 and 1924, when a whole culture left its ancient roots to settle in the cities and towns of America.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A rich, humane, well-researched discourse on Italians in America, by Mangione (An Ethnic at Large, 1978, etc.) and Morreale (Monday, Tuesday...Never Come Sunday, 1977). By marshalling abundant, striking, and unexpected facts, the authors create a fresh view of the Italian contribution to American culture. Amerigo Vespucci emerges as an ambiguous hustler, while the forgotten Fillipo Mazzei comes alive as a man at the heart of the birth of our nation--friend of and influence upon Italophile Thomas Jefferson and ``prime mover in founding and organizing a constitutional society whose members included James Madison, James Monroe, and Edmond Randolph.'' Equally memorable is Count Luigi Cesnola, Union officer and Confederate prisoner, art dealer and first director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The brutal realities of turn-of-the-century immigration and of the melting-pot squalor of the resulting Italian ghettos are portrayed matter-of- factly, but the authors also explore little-known Italian-American outposts in Louisiana (where their communes prospered), Texas (where immigrants were ripped even off more outrageously than usual), and even in Arizona, where N.Y.C.'s future mayor Fiorella La Guardia spent some formative years. It all adds up to a powerful look at a heritage often overwhelmed by the dominant Anglo culture, and to a strong antidote to the mafia-mythology so dear to the media. The facts are all here, but what makes the book hum are a vigor and tone unique to writers tempered in the liberal-left tradition of the Thirties, for whom humanity and social issues are truly of the essence. (Thirty-two pages of b&w photos--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

The core of this gripping, panoramic chronicle is the mass emigration of Italians to the U.S. between 1880 and 1924. Their road to assimilation was marked by hard work, family solidarity, tradition-laden weddings and joyous festivals, but also by poverty, miserable housing, dangerous working conditions and marriages that "often seethed with tensions" despite a public image of unity and warmth. Mangione ( Mussolini's March on Rome ) and Morreale ( A Few Virtuous Men ) trace discrimination against Italian Americans, arguing that politicians and the media fanned prejudice after WW II by resurrecting the Mafia image of the 1890s. They discuss Italian Americans' awareness or denial of their heritage, providing cameos of Sacco and Vanzetti, Fiorello LaGuardia, Frank Sinatra, Don DeLillo, John Ciardi, Francis Coppola and dozens more. Early chapters discuss Italian adventurers (such as Columbus) and Italians who fought in the American Revolution and the Civil War; a later one touches on intermarriage and divorce, which have contributed to the decline of immigrant culture. A magnificent saga that illuminates a century of accomplishment and struggle. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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