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.
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.)