La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian-American Experience

( 2 )


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 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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Since Columbus's discovery of the New World, Italians have played a vital part in shaping the Americas. La Storia (``the story'') tells of these ethnic struggles and triumphs from 1492 to the present. This is not the personal voyage recently taken by Gay Talese in Unto the Sons ( LJ 2/1/92), although La Storia is more potent and valuable because of its inclusive breadth and scope. Mangione ( Mount Allegro , Columbia Univ. Pr., 1981) and Morreale ( A Few Virtuous Men , Tundra Bks., 1973. o.p.) report on a vast array of historically important topics: from the environment that spawned the mass migration overseas to the challenge of survival in a mostly hostile new homeland to the decline of religion and the tightknit traditions currently affecting the second and third generations. Past and present names (Amerigo Vespucci, Don DeLillo) and events (colonization, labor movements) are expounded upon so that the text has solid reference value. An important complement to history or Italian collections.-- David Nudo, ``Library Journal''
School Library Journal
YA-- The richness and variety of the Italian immigrant experience in America are captured here. Portraying the journey from the harshness and poverty of rural Italy and Sicily to the teeming ghettos of New York, Boston, and other American cities, the authors tell of the five-and-a-half million Italians who made the voyage. Utilizing newspaper articles, diaries, and novels to record first-hand recollections, their stories provide a microcosm of the immigrant experience, in general, and a record of the many contributions of Italian-Americans to the cultural mosaic of the United States. A rich source of materials for understanding the multicultural experience.-- Richard Lisker, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Fleeing poverty in the Old Country, more than five million Italians immigrated to America between 1880 and 1924--to find hardship, prejudice, and eventually, assimilation. This expansive account of the their history (enlivened by personal narratives of immigrants and their descendants) reaches from colonial times to the present, but the period of mass migration forms the heart of the story. Twenty-four pages of b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060924416
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 474,317
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Table of Contents

The Song of the Emigrants
Pt. 1 Italians Among the Colonizers
Ch. 1 The Colonial Period 3
Ch. 2 Young America 14
Pt. 2 The Land They Left
Ch. 3 Italy Before and After Unification 31
Ch. 4 Saints and Legends to Live By 41
Ch. 5 Italian Unity and the Southern Exodus 54
Pt. 3 Emigration Fever
Ch. 6 To Leave or Not to Leave 67
Ch. 7 Parting 86
Ch. 8 Arrival 109
Pt. 4 The Land The Came To
Ch. 9 Security in Tight Little Islands - The Early Days 129
Ch. 10 Beyond the Biggest City 149
Ch. 11 Mixing the Old and the New 165
Pt. 5 New Roots Across the Nation
Ch. 12 Life in the South and West 181
Ch. 13 New Orleans - Wops, Crime, and Lynchings 200
Ch. 14 Identity - Character and Assimilation 214
Pt. 6 Crime and Prejudice
Ch. 15 Crime Remembered 241
Pt. 7 Work, Politics, and Divertimenti
Ch. 16 Before the Unions, 1900-1920 267
Ch. 17 The Road to Sacco and Vanzetti 290
Ch. 18 Divertimenti - The Early Period 307
Pt. 8 Assimilation
Ch. 19 Changing Images of Italian Americans 325
Ch. 20 The Postwar Years - Organized Crime and Cultural Anger 343
Ch. 21 The Writers Between Two Cultures: 1890-1960 352
Ch. 22 Scoring in the Sports World of America 373
Ch. 23 Hollywood - and Show Business 385
Pt. 9 Old Wine in New Bottles, 1940-1990
Ch. 24 Politics and Business 397
Ch. 25 Hollywood - The Later Period 410
Ch. 26 The Writers: 1960-1990 422
Ch. 27 At Home and Uneasy in America 451
Epilogue 459
Bibliography 463
Index 495
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2011

    Disappointing - Hard to read with biased information

    As a 2nd Generation Italian-America, I found this book disappointing. It focused mostly on pro-union issues and way over did it on covering literature accomplishments. Even with that they were all over the place. the writing quality is of a new college student trying to write a history report before they had their first English Composition class.

    The book covered little of Italian-American accomplishments during the two world wars and when they talked about sports they had no idea what they were talking about - (i.e. Joe Montana played for the San Francisco Giants). I am surprised they did not say he played with Barry Bonds.

    They could not even get the politicians correct as they referred to Mario Coumo as a conservative politician. The political view of this book is heavily slanted to the left as the author appeared disappointed that the most prominent politicians of today are more conservative. There is also no doubt the author does not like the Catholic Church as they took numerous jabs at the church and the clergy.

    The only good I got out of this book was a little Italian history and migration time frame. There has to be better reference to the Italian experience than this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2010

    A real eye-opener!

    Learned so much about the history and experience of Italian Americans from this wonderful book. Helped to fill in the gaps in so many of the stories I've heard from family and friends. Very well researched and written, highly informative, yet able to hold the interest of the average reader. Found the overview of Italian history fascinating. It helps to shed light on why so many things are the way they are. And it is so good to read about Italian Americans as a people, as immigrants, and as something other than media-hyped gangsters and thugs. While this is nonfiction, it tells a great story in a very readable way. Highly recommended for all, but especially for Italian Americans, whose experiences have been sadly neglected, glossed over, and even ridiculed in the media and the history books.

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