A brisk, well-researched look at a significant part of New York’s boisterous past.

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AN UNLIKELY UNION

THE LOVE-HATE STORY OF NEW YORK'S IRISH AND ITALIANS

How two ethnic groups made peace.

Former Newsday city editor Moses (Journalism/Brooklyn Coll.; The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace, 2009) sees himself as “a social science statistic”: a third-generation Italian-American New Yorker, educated in Catholic schools, who married an Irish-American woman. Their 1976 marriage, he realizes, was not unusual, but a century earlier, it would have been almost scandalous. In this lively history of the clashes, compromises, and eventual bonding between two feisty immigrant groups, Moses looks at Irish and Italian expressions of religion, social customs, and family life; access to political power; competition for jobs; and cultural forces that shaped their images. Irish immigrants had gained a foothold in American life before waves of Italians arrived in the late 19th century. Although both groups were predominantly Roman Catholic, their religious practices were starkly different. “The Irish shunned…loud shows of faith,” a result of persecution by the British; southern Italians, on the other hand, celebrated noisily, with feasts and fireworks that the Irish deemed crude. The two groups did not bond in their churches, nor in the workplace, where they often competed for jobs, causing dissension, especially in hard economic times. Italians’ feeling of powerlessness was underscored by a criminal justice system dominated by the Irish. “Like later minority groups in New York,” Moses writes astutely, “Italian immigrants believed that police, judges, and juries were biased against them.” Taking justice into their own hands, Italians waged gang warfare in the form of the Mafia and Black Hand. The author offers deft capsule biographies of such figures as activist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and her Italian lover, Carlo Tresca; spunky New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia and his rival, the suave Jimmy Walker; Al Capone and his quietly elegant Irish-American wife, Mae Coughlin; and Frank Sinatra, who got his big break from tough Irish band leader Tommy Dorsey.

A brisk, well-researched look at a significant part of New York’s boisterous past.

Pub Date: July 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4798-7130-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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