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Sons of Italy® Book Club

The Sons of Italy® Book Club is dedicated to the fiction and non-fiction works of Italian American writers who focus on Italian American issues, themes and history.

Preference is given to books published by the major publishing houses (Random House, HarperCollins, Penguin Books, etc.) because such titles are widely available through bookstores nationally and on

Three to four titles are chose each quarter for a total of 12 to 16 titles a year. The selections are posted here and published in Italian America® magazine.

We encourage all our chapters around the country to choose one or more of the books each quarter and devote part of their monthly meeting time to discuss it.

How to Order:

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Summer 2016 Selections

ONLY IN NAPLES: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from my Italian Mother-in-Law
By Katherine Wilson

Katherine Wilson’s memoir, Only in Naples, immerses you in the great city of Naples, a city that ends up changing her life. Calabrian on her mother’s side and fluent in the language, Wilson spends three post-college months interning with the U.S. Consulate in Naples. What was supposed to be a summer turns into a lifetime as Wilson meets Salvatore, a young Neopolitan who steals her heart. He, of course, still lives with his family.

Wilson takes you into Salvatore’s home as she learns the customs of family life along with customs unique to Naples. She becomes close with Salvatore’s mother, who teaches her lessons in cooking (who measures ingredients in Italy?). As she and Salvatore’s relationship deepens, Wilson learns important lessons in how Italians approach marriage, transition into independent living, and raise children.

She’ll take you from the home and out into the streets of Naples where you’ll learn how to form a line for coffee, that there’s a serious hierarchy when it comes to nuts, and that Naples has an “unofficial” patron saint (hint: he’s a soccer player from another continent). You’ll also experience holidays like the day after Easter (which rivals Christmas) and San Gennaro Day, a celebration of Naples’ true patron saint, who represents the city’s working class.

Wilson’s wit offers many laughs, but there are instances when she is honest about her upbringing in a wealthy suburban neighborhood and the insecurities that she developed because of that. Insecurities that Naples and her future husband managed to toss out the window.

BRANDED: How Italian Immigrants Became ‘Enemies’ During World War II
By Lawrence W. Di Stasi

An historical overview, Branded gives a detailed account of the measures that the United States government took against Italian-born residents during World War II. The book follows a chronology that begins with the years before World War II with the rise of Mussolini, who was originally beloved by America and lauded by President Franklin Roosevelt.

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and war was declared on the Axis Powers, labeling ensued, branding some 600,000 Italian-born immigrants as “enemy aliens”—many of them non-citizens because they were unable to speak English and therefore couldn’t obtain citizenship. With that followed seizures of property, detentions, internments, evacuations, curfews, and fishing restrictions. Author Lawrence Di Stasi particularly focuses on the west coast, the miles of California coastline where “enemy aliens” were forbidden to set foot, uprooting many from their homes and destroying their livelihoods.

Branded is filled with personal accounts and reflections of those who endured this traumatic time. These heart-wrenching accounts will show the irreparable physical and psychological damage done to those affected, many of whom had sons fighting overseas in the U.S. military. One astonishing account focuses on an Italian man who was inducted into the U.S. Army while he was interned.

As you follow the sequence of events and read the personal recollections, it will make you consider whether or not such historical events are destined to be repeated, only to be viewed with disapproval decades after they occur. It will also make you consider how tenuous our rights really are.

Reviewed by Miles Ryan Fisher