Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century

Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century

by John Paul Godges

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Overview

An Italian immigrant family clings together. A Polish immigrant family breaks apart. From these backgrounds emerges an American family--a staunchly Catholic U.S. Marine Corps father, an emotionally effusive mother, an Oliver North son, a Hillary Clinton daughter, a mentally ill sister, a jock brother, a lesbian rocker, and a gay male activist--all of whom struggle to find their places in America.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940011070082
Publisher: John Paul Godges
Publication date: 07/14/2010
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 977,440
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

John Paul Godges is editor-in-chief of RAND Review, the flagship magazine of the RAND Corporation, one of the world’s most prestigious research institutions. In the 1990s, he was editor of New City/Pueblo Nuevo, a multilingual magazine for families and communities working to prevent substance abuse in the Latino, Armenian, and Russian immigrant neighborhoods of Los Angeles. In his volunteer time, he serves on the editorial board of The Way of St. Francis, the magazine of the Franciscan Friars of California.Godges earned an undergraduate degree in American studies from Georgetown University; a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, where he specialized in religion and society by taking divinity courses at the nearby Graduate Theological Union; and a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
CarolNWong More than 1 year ago
Thank you so much, Mr. Godges for writing this book. Your book seems like a song of America. There were lyrics to songs that I hadn't sung for so long. When I came to them, I sang along. Both sides of my family have been here for hundreds of years, yet so many of your family's experiences are mine too. I loved how you told the story of one your mother's side of the family and then your father's and finally focused on your own immediate family one by one. Your mother could have been my chil...moreThank you so much, Mr. Godges for writing this book. Your book seems like a song of America. There were lyrics to songs that I hadn't sung for so long. When I came to them, I sang along. Both sides of my family have been here for hundreds of years, yet so many of your family's experiences are mine too. I loved how you told the story of one your mother's side of the family and then your father's and finally focused on your own immediate family one by one. Your mother could have been my child hood friend's mother easily. Your father, joining the Civilian Conservation Corps in Michigan as an escape from his broken family could have been my father. He joined it in Indiana when his mother and father divorced and his mother could no longer feed here children. Your sister Geri could have been my Aunt Pody. You told the story of Americans the way that it should be told as a memory of all the good and the bad, all the tragedies and celebrations of family. You also expressed the feeling of pride of being an American and the understanding of what it means to be an American. You don't have to be an American Catholic to appreciate this book, you just need to share in the common experience and learn what is good from it and how to improve it. Thank you again, Mr. Godges for writing this song to America. I received this book in a contest from GoodReads and the opinions above are entirely my own.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Interesting, plodding story about a large faamily's individual development and group interactions No suspense or plot
BLRocque More than 1 year ago
OH BEAUTIFUL, John Paul Godges’ fine memoir about five generations of his family took me back on a sentimental journey! My family and his have similar immigrant timelines, ethnic traditions, and family values. But, that said, this book offers a rich read beyond those confines. At the heart of the memoir is a question. What does it mean to be an American? A journalist with American Studies background, Godges crafted this memoir to work on two levels. OH BEAUTIFUL is an insightful recounting of his family history. It is also an artful window into 100 years of American history. WWI, Prohibition, the Great Depression, WWII, and social movements shaped his family --- and vice-versa! The country America and the ethos of her people are inseparable, and still evolving. As a family historian, I admire the author’s research prowess and his skill in integrating the levels of storytelling found in this book, blending personal and historical. The memoir introduces his mother’s Italian family first, then his Polish father’s family, and then the author and his siblings. Joys, sadness, challenges and much love fill the pages. There is much authentic period detail, lots about ethnic traditions, and a view into the individual perspectives and values of family members from multiple generations. This includes religious beliefs, rites, and practices that glue the family together, set expectations, give comfort, guide decisions, and cause some of the major conflicts between family members. That this is a “deep” portrait of numerous “characters” is one of the greatest strengths of OH BEAUTIFUL. He shared his family's strengths. But, sharing also the behavioral quirks, lifestyle diversity, language endearments and hurdles, and difficult lessons learned elevated this memoir. Godges refrains from judging, and instead recounts the facts and “inside view”, possibly gained via nonverbal detection senses inherited from his mother. Like his grandfather DiGregorio, John Paul Godges keeps an eye out for the silver lining in difficult incidents, and then offers it with the kindness of a sage, emulating his father’s uncle and mentor. At the start, the author noted that he toggled between personal interviews and hard research in order to clarify the foggy memories; the sources at the end of the book are evidence of that precision, a trait he undoubtedly gained from his father. Author Godges sets the perimeter of the jigsaw puzzle at the start and then shows us how each puzzle piece adds to the understanding of his family’s --- and America’s cohesiveness, despite the many challenges faced. The writing style is smooth and skilled; the focus shifts back and forth in time when it suits the storytelling. From the initial horrifying story, we travel back across the Atlantic, and feel, through his ancestors, what our own ancestors must have felt when deciding whether to leave their European homes. At over 500 pages, though, one detracting practice for me was the repeating of story details to refresh the memory of the reader. It detached me from the story, though it might help a reader with memory issues. A minor frustration! Many audiences will appreciate OH BEAUTIFUL --- those interested in memoirs of family history, recent American history, and social history aficionados to name a few. I expect that descendents of the author’s family will appreciate this book even more fifty years from now. Hopefully, someone in his family will choose to continue the chronicle.
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