An edifying portrayal of an indefatigably purposeful life.




A debut biography focuses on an Italian-American entrepreneur who essentially invented modern banking.

Valente’s book examines the life of Amadeo Pietro Giannini, who was born in 1870 in California. He was the son of Italian immigrants who came to the United States in 1869 in search of opportunity. When he was only 6 years old, he witnessed his father’s murder—he was shot to death by one of his workers over a wage dispute—a traumatic experience that taught the boy an early lesson about the gossamer vulnerability of life. His mother married Lorenzo Scatena, an Italian entrepreneur who owned a thriving produce company and who would become a mentor to Giannini. The boy displayed a precocious talent for business and an insatiable ambition. At 14, he dropped out of school to work for L. Scatena & Co. full time. He pioneered the purchase of produce on consignment and, by the end of 1885, was the company’s chief salesman; at 21, he was a full partner. In 1892, he married Clorinda Agnes Cuneo, the daughter of a wealthy real estate tycoon. When Giannini’s father-in-law died, he became the executor of his will, which included shares in and a directorship of Columbus Savings and Loan. Giannini had a vision for the bank’s egalitarian transformation—he wanted to shift its focus to accepting deposits from and dispensing loans to less affluent Italian-Americans, a plan considered so radical he eventually resigned from the board. He started his own bank—the Bank of Italy—which later became part of holdings that included Bank of America. Giannini’s banking empire revolutionized the industry by turning it toward the establishment of local branches under centralized supervision. Valente, writing in crystal clear prose, concisely captures not only Giannini’s entrepreneurial boldness, but also his abiding commitment to social reform and civic causes. After the disastrous San Francisco earthquake in 1906, “he helped the city rise from the ashes by making loans ‘on a face and a signature’ to the small businesses and people whose lives were shattered.” Part of the Barbera Foundation’s Mentoris Project, devoted to biographies of historically significant Italians and Italian-Americans, Valente’s study is scrupulously researched, both informative and inspiring. She also furnishes a vivid portrait not only of the corruption of turn-of-the-century San Francisco, but also the inhospitality Italian immigrants routinely encountered in the United States.

An edifying portrayal of an indefatigably purposeful life.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947431-04-1

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Barbera Foundation, Inc.

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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