Italian-Americans

Books by and about Italian-Americans

Baseball Italian Style: Great Stories Told by Italian American Major Leaguers from Crosetti to Piazza

by Lawrence Baldassaro

Baseball Italian Style brings together the memories of major leaguers of Italian heritage whose collective careers span almost a century, from the 1930s up to today. In these first-person accounts, baseball fans will meet at an intimate level the players they cheered as heroes or jeered as adversaries, as well as coaches, managers, front-office executives, and umpires. The men who speak in this collection, which includes eight Hall of Famers (Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Ron Santo, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Tom Lasorda, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre) go beyond facts and figures to provide an inside look at life in the big leagues. Their stories provide a time capsule that documents not only the evolution of Italian American participation in the national pastime, but also the continuity of the game and the many changes that have taken place, on and off the field. At a time when statistical analysis plays an increasingly prominent role in the sport, the monologues in this book are a reminder that the history of baseball is passed on to future generations more eloquently, and with much greater passion, through the words of those who lived it than it is by numerical data.

Stella Mia

by Rosanna Chiofalo

Rosanna Chiofalo’s poignant, beautifully written novel evokes the stunning scenery of Sicily and the Aeolian Islands and tells of mothers and daughters, love and sacrifice–and the choices that resound across continents and through generations. Julia Parlatone doesn’t have much to remember her Italian mother by. A grapevine that Sarina planted still flourishes in the backyard of Julia’s childhood home in Astoria, Queens. And there’s a song, “Stella Mia,” she recalls her mother singing–my star, my star, you are the most beautiful star–until the day she left three-year-old Julia behind and returned to Italy for good. Now a happily married schoolteacher, Julia tries not to dwell on a past she can’t change or on a mother who chose to leave. But in an old trunk in the family basement, she discovers items that belonged to her mother–a song book, Tarot cards, a Sicilian folk costume–and a diary. Sarina writes unflinchingly of her harsh childhood and of a first, passionate love affair; of blissful months spent living in the enchanting coastal resort town of Taormina and the unspoiled Aeolian Islands north of Sicily as well as the reasons she came to New York. By the diary’s end, Julia knows she must track down her mother in Italy and piece together the rest of the complex, bittersweet truth–a journey that, for better or worse, will change her own life forever.

Household Saints: A Novel

by Francine Prose

On a September night so hot that the good Catholics of New York wonder if their city has slipped into hell, the butcher Joseph Santangelo invites his friends to play pinochle. At the end of a long, sweaty, boozy evening, his friend Lino Falconetti, addled by wine and heat, bets the hand of his daughter, Catherine—and Santangelo wins. Santangelo’s modern new wife clashes immediately with his superstitious, half-mad mother—and Catherine is horrified when the daughter they raise turns out to have more in common with the old world than the new. As the years slide past, the city changes around them, but Little Italy’s household saints hold their world together.

Finding Your Italian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide

by Suzanne Russo Adams

For millions of Americans, home means Italy, where their roots started years ago. In Finding Your Italian Ancestors, you’ll discover the tools you need to trace your ancestors back to the homeland. Learn how and where to find records in the United States and Italy, get practical advice on deciphering those hard-to-read documents, and explore valuable online resources. The guide also includes maps, multiple glossaries, and an extensive bibliography.

Vita: A Novel

by Melania G. Mazzucco, Virginia Jewiss (Translator)

In April 1903, the steamship Republic spills more than 2000 immigrants onto Ellis Island. Among them are Diamante, age 12, and Vita, nine, sent by their poor families in southern Italy to make their way in America. Amid the chaos and splendor of New York, the misery and criminality of Little Italy, and the shady tenants of Vita’s father’s decrepit Prince Street boarding house, Diamante and Vita struggle to survive, to create a new life, and to become American. From journeys west in search of work to journeys back to Italy in search of their roots, to Vita’s son’s encounter with his mother’s home town while serving as an army captain in World War II, Vita touches on every aspect of the heartbreaking and inspiring immigrant story. The award-winning Italian author Melania G. Mazzucco weaves her own family history into a great American novel of the immigrant experience. A sweeping tale of discovery, love, and loss, Vita is a passionate blend of biography and autobiography, of fantasy and fiction.

Newark’s Little Italy: The Vanished First Ward

by Michael Immerso

Michael Immerso traces the history of the First Ward from the arrival of the first Italian in the 1870s until 1953 when the district was uprooted to make way for urban renewal. Richly illustrated with photographs culled from the albums and shoeboxes in the private collections of hundreds of former First Ward families from all across the United States, the book documents the evolution of the district from a small immigrant quarter into a complex Italian-American neighborhood that thrived during the first half of this century.

Sicilian Genealogy and Heraldry

by Louis Mendola

In Sicilian genealogy, a generation by generation lineage to the Late Middle Ages isn’t unusual. This definitive guide shows you how to do it. Sicily boasts the world’s best genealogical records, revealing the deep roots of a Sicilian identity and facilitating the construction of many pedigrees back to the 15th century. Based on the author’s 30 years of experience as a foremost expert in the field, this is the first complete guide ever published in English dedicated exclusively to Sicilian genealogical research. Its publication established a new subject category in the Dewey catalog.

Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball

by Lawrence Baldassaro

Berra, Rizzuto, Lasorda, Torre, Conigliaro, Santo, Piazza. Casual baseball fans—in fact, even many nonfans—know these names, not as Italian Americans but as some of the most colorful figures in Major League Baseball. Ever since future Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri became a key part of the Yankees’ Murderers’ Row lineup of 1926, Italian Americans have been among the most prominent and intriguing players in the game. The first comprehensive study of the topic, Beyond DiMaggio is also a social history of baseball, tracing the evolution of American perceptions toward those of Italian descent as it chronicles the baseball exploits that influenced those perceptions. Lawrence Baldassaro tells the stories of Italian Americans’ contributions to the game, from Joe DiMaggio, who transcended his ethnic identity to become an American icon, to A. Bartlett Giamatti, who served as commissioner of baseball, to Mike Piazza, considered the greatest hitting catcher ever. Baldassaro conducted more than 50 interviews with players, coaches, managers, and executives—some with careers dating back to the ’30s—in order to put all these figures and their stories into the historical context of baseball, Italian Americans, and, finally, the culture of American sports.

Priest, Parish, and People: Saving the Faith in Philadelphia’s “Little Italy”

by Richard N. Juliani

From the perspective of historical sociology, Richard N. Juliani traces the role of religion in the lives and communities of Italian immigrants in Philadelphia from the 1850s to the early 1930s. By the end of the 19th century, Philadelphia had one of the largest Italian populations in the country, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia eventually established 23 parishes for the exclusive use of Italians. Juliani describes the role these parishes played in developing and anchoring an ethnic community and in shaping its members’ new identity as Italian Americans during the years of mass migration from Italy to America. Priest, Parish, and People blends the history of Monsignor Antonio Isoleri—pastor from 1870 to 1926 of St. Mary Magdalen dePazzi, the first Italian parish founded in the country—with that of the Italian immigrant community in Philadelphia. In charting that growth, Juliani also examines conflicts between laity and clergy and between clergy and church hierarchy, as well as the remarkable 56-year career of Isoleri as a spiritual and secular leader. Priest, Parish, and People provides both the details of parish history in Philadelphia and the larger context of Italian-American Catholic history.

Elizabeth Street

by Laurie Fabiano

Based on true events, Elizabeth Street is a multigenerational saga that opens in an Italian village in the 1900’s and crosses the ocean to New York’s Lower East Side. At the heart of the novel is Giovanna, whose family is targeted by the notorious Black Hand – the precursor to the Mafia. Elizabeth Street brings to light a period in history when Italian immigrant neighborhoods lived in fear of Black Hand extortion and violence, a reality that defies the romanticized depiction of the Mafia. Here, the author reveals the merciless terror of the Black Hand and the impact their crimes had on her family. Giovanna is based on Fabiano’s great-grandmother, and the book’s heroes and villains – such as Lieutenant Petrosino, the crusading cop and “Lupo the Wolf,” a cold-blooded criminal – are drawn from real life in this thrilling tale. While set in a dynamic historical context, Elizabeth Street is, above all, the dramatic story of the heroine, Giovanna, and how she triumphed over tragedy.