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 amazon.com.
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.
Book Club selections are available through local bookstores nationwide.
To order online, click on the "Buy from amazon.com" button next to each book.
Buy ANY product from amazon.com through a partnership with OSIA (and OSIA receives a donation from Amazon for every product sold!)
AN UNLIKELY UNION: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians
By Paul Moses
Author Paul Moses revisits the days when Italian immigrants first arrived in the United States and settled in New York City amidst the Irish who came before them. The eventual union both ethnicities formed did not, however, come easily. Tension arose along religious lines, their shared Catholicism initially driving them apart. Italians and Irish also clashed over jobs—the Italians moving into construction jobs that were held predominantly by the Irish. Frequent battles occurred with the Irish-controlled police force and at the Tammany Hall-influenced polls.
You will see, however, that through the struggles of the common man as well as through that of celebrated individuals like Mother Cabrini (the first U.S. citizen to be canonized), NYPD hero Joseph Petrosino, and NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Italians and Irish started to integrate. What once separated them evolved into shared interests that brought them together, and eventually the two groups began to intermarry.The most interesting facet of this book is how the author highlights the initial treatment of Italian immigrants by American society. Italian immigrants faced ethnic slandering and regularly clashed with the police who perceived them to be innately criminal. They were also condemned for not learning English and being only temporary inhabitants, some of them returning to Italy after years of hard work. Amidst this prejudice, you will see how the manner in which Italian immigrants were treated reflects the manner in which subsequent immigrant groups have been treated as well.
BEBOP, SWING, AND BELLA MUSICA: Jazz and the Italian American Experience
By Bill Dal Cerro and David Anthony Witter
This comprehensive collection profiles the “steady flow” of Italian Americans who contributed to the evolution of Jazz. Big names like Louis Prima, Eddie Lang, Louie Bellson, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett are paired with lesser known, but highly influential artists like Nick LaRocca, Sam Butera, Leon Roppolo, and Joe Venuti.
More so than simply recounting past jazz artists, this book will take you on the journey of jazz, a journey that was more than just music—it was a reflection of culture and society. You’ll learn how Italian Americans used music to upend stereotypes of being “unsophisticated,” how they viewed music as a way out for their children, and how they influenced music in New Orleans.
Perhaps the most interesting and rewarding aspect of this collection is the insight it gives on how, due to their similar circumstances, Italian Americans and African Americans bonded. You’ll hear stories of Italian mothers cooking for Louie Armstrong and Italian-American musicians sharing the stage with Duke Ellington, and learn about the incident Tony Bennett saw an African-American friend experience that “profoundly shaped his life.”
As you travel through the notes of this book, you will gain appreciation for the role music played in leading Italian Americans to break segregation while laws were still in place. You will also find yourself listening to a jazz record or two.
Reviewed by Miles Ryan Fisher