A rich, humane, well-researched discourse on Italians in America, by Mangione (An Ethnic at Large, 1978, etc.) and Morreale (Monday, Tuesday...Never Come Sunday, 1977). By marshalling abundant, striking, and unexpected facts, the authors create a fresh view of the Italian contribution to American culture. Amerigo Vespucci emerges as an ambiguous hustler, while the forgotten Fillipo Mazzei comes alive as a man at the heart of the birth of our nation—friend of and influence upon Italophile Thomas Jefferson and ``prime mover in founding and organizing a constitutional society whose members included James Madison, James Monroe, and Edmond Randolph.'' Equally memorable is Count Luigi Cesnola, Union officer and Confederate prisoner, art dealer and first director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The brutal realities of turn-of-the-century immigration and of the melting-pot squalor of the resulting Italian ghettos are portrayed matter-of- factly, but the authors also explore little-known Italian-American outposts in Louisiana (where their communes prospered), Texas (where immigrants were ripped even off more outrageously than usual), and even in Arizona, where N.Y.C.'s future mayor Fiorella La Guardia spent some formative years. It all adds up to a powerful look at a heritage often overwhelmed by the dominant Anglo culture, and to a strong antidote to the mafia-mythology so dear to the media. The facts are all here, but what makes the book hum are a vigor and tone unique to writers tempered in the liberal-left tradition of the Thirties, for whom humanity and social issues are truly of the essence. (Thirty-two pages of b&w photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-016778-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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