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posted Nov 12, 2010, 11:03 AM by Vincenza Scarpaci   [ updated Sep 2, 2011, 5:05 PM ]
January 2009    
 San Jose, CA

Book Review by Ken Borelli
President, Italian American Heritage Foundation

2008 saw the release of what will prove to be a major source work on the history of Italian Americans.  The author, Vincenza Scaparci is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D in history, and has taught both US and Immigration History at the University level throughout the United States.  She has drawn from her studies and heritage to develop a seminal piece of work that chronicals the "Journey of Italians in America."    Her ablitity to incorporate this tale within hundreds of historical photos and documents make this fascinating reading  and part of our common and evolving history as Italian Americans.  Although the work is 319 pages long, you end the book wanting more! 
  And as we go to press on this review, the book was recognized by the National Son's of Italy award for best book for 2009!.   Obviously this research is a labor of love. More important, however, is that it is well written, documented  and researched.   And for that reason we as Italian Americans are indebted to Vincenza fo pulling this material together and defining many benchmark moments in our often overlooked history.  We are definelty more that our stereotypes, as is true with other communities in the cultural threads of this great nation.  What this book does is  highlight the "why" this is so.   


The book offers a national perspective, so may not highlight a particular American region in depth, and I think that is our job as Heritage organizations.  Even so these events have always interplayed on the local scene, and her spellbinding observations provide a foundation from which to connect to your own personal and regional past.  Vincenza focuses on the dynamics of Italian immigration and in many ways the forging of a new identity as "Italian American".  This has always been a vague term, especially when one contrast native born Italians and those families who have lived here for generations. 
Yes there is common ground but there are also differences, and those  difference skillfully emerge in the history of migration and immigration, cultural conflicts, and resolutions.  Throughout the text you will learn some fascinating facts about your roots, appreciate our history and appreciate the special "blending" of the two cultural worlds that compose a common heritage.   I am sure as you explore this fascinating book, you will come away with a greater appreciation of the contributions of our ancestors to this great land, especially the "gusto" with which we contribute to daily life in today's USA.  This book is a must read, and a part of your home library, and better yet, perhaps purchase a copy and share with your local library as a patron of our heritage!    We have a limited number of first edition books available for sale at the IAHF, and can be purchased by contacting the office.  For additional information about the book you can also contact the publisher, Pelican Press, Gretna, Louisiana, 
www.pelicanpub.com .  I am sure we will be seeing and hearing  more from Vincenza as the year unfolds.

Video Clips Courtesy of Judy Verona Joseph of "On the Town"