Cover image for The Italian Americans : a history
Title:
The Italian Americans : a history
Author:
Laurino, Maria, author.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2015]
Physical Description:
308 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 27 cm
Summary:
Maria Laurino strips away stereotypes and nostalgia to tell the complicated, centuries-long story of the true Italian-American experience. Looking beyond the familiar caricatures fostered by popular culture, she tells the stories of Sicilian workers imported to replace the labor of freed slaves, the grim realities from which most immigrants came, the lynchings of Italian Americans, and the first uses of the word "mafia." Laurino shows how Italian Americans dominated the fishing industry in San Francisco, helped save the city after the Great Fire, and were interned or restricted as "enemy aliens" during World War II. Readers will meet the celebrated NYPD officer who battled "The Black Hand"; sex-symbol Rudolph Valentino, who attracted both adoration and scorn; and Rosina Bonavita, the real-life "Rosie the Riveter." Laurino brings to light the significance of Italian American roots to generation-defining authors and poets like Diane DiPrima, and examines how Italian Americans' focus on family and community has influenced American politics. From anarchist radicals of the early twentieth century to Nancy Pelosi and Andrew Cuomo; from traditional artisans to rebel songsters like Frank Sinatra and Lady Gaga, this book explores and celebrates the rich history and ongoing vitality of Italian American life.--From publisher description.
General Note:
"Companion to the PBS series by John Maggio"--Cover.
Language:
English
Contents:
1860-1910. La famiglia ; Who killa da chief? ; Birds of passage ; A secret history ; Up from the ashes -- 1910-1930. Becoming American ; Fruits of thy labor ; Taking the streets ; Guilt by association ; A shortcut -- 1930-1945. The little flower ; Faith in the fatherland ; Why we fight ; Enemy aliens -- 1945-present. American dreams ; Cultural outlaws ; Crime and prejudice ; Mythmakers ; Breaking through ; We're all Italian!
ISBN:
9780393241297
Format :
Book

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E184.I8 L379 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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E184.I8 L379 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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E184.I8 L379 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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E184.I8 L379 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

In this richly researched, beautifully designed and illustrated volume, Maria Laurino strips away stereotypes and nostalgia to tell the complicated, centuries-long story of the true Italian-American experience.

Looking beyond the familiar Little Italys and stereotypes fostered by The Godfather and The Sopranos, Laurino reveals surprising, fascinating lives: Italian-Americans working on sugar-cane plantations in Louisiana to those who were lynched in New Orleans; the banker who helped rebuild San Francisco after the great earthquake; families interned as "enemy aliens" in World War II. From anarchist radicals to "Rosie the Riveter" to Nancy Pelosi, Andrew Cuomo, and Bill de Blasio; from traditional artisans to rebel songsters like Frank Sinatra, Dion, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, this book is both exploration and celebration of the rich legacy of Italian-American life.

Readers can discover the history chronologically, chapter by chapter, or serendipitously by exploring the trove of supplemental materials. These include interviews, newspaper clippings, period documents, and photographs that bring the history to life.


Author Notes

Maria Laurino is a journalist & essayist living in New York City. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the "New York Times" & the "Village Voice".

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Published as a companion to the PBS TV series of the same name, this work tracks the history of Italian-Americans, from the mid-19th century to the present day. While there is some general history in the book focusing on topics like immigration, assimilation, infamy, stardom, stereotypes, and naturalization, Laurino (Were You Always Italian?) uses in-depth research to focus on individual stories to tell the Italian-American story. Some spotlighted stories are well known, like those about anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia, and Frank Sinatra. But the more obscure tales have more impact, like those about Angela Bambace, one of the first union leaders, and A.P. Giannini, a banker who tried to help improve the lives of immigrants. Laurino wonderfully captures the history of Italians in America. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Choice Review

In an effort to write a useful corrective to unsavory ethnic stereotypes pertaining to Italian Americans, Laurino (NYU) uses themes of family, community, and culture to explore the history of the Italian US outside the confines of the more common locale of Little Italy. The book's 20 chapters are organized chronologically into four parts, beginning in 1860s Italy and ending with contemporary reflections upon culture and ethnicity. Despite her desire to turn readers' attention away from ethnic and racial stereotypes, Laurino nevertheless devotes a chapter to the "mythmakers" of Italian America, including Hollywood portrayals of the mafia encompassed in The Godfather and The Sopranos and the embarrassment by personas born out of reality television. Though such acknowledgement is somewhat expected, Laurino shies away from the chance to transform a discussion of such cultural typecasts into more of a scholarly analysis of the legacies of identity formation over time. Nevertheless, the book offers significant contextual reference to the study of immigration and ethnic history in the US. Written as a companion piece to the PBS television series of the same title. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Public, general, and undergraduate collections. --Erika Jackson, Colorado Mesa University