L'America

Joseph M. Orazi

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In the decades preceding WWII, hundreds of thousands of Italians flocked to our shores in hopes of starting new lives in a land that promised freedom and opportunity. They immigrated through the Great Hall of Ellis Island, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, and spilled out into the streets of New York City and beyond in anticipation of a kind of renaissance. L’America follows the journey of three families who board the Santa Ana in 1915 through the ports of Palermo and Naples. For thirteen days, they share brutal passage in steerage. But the voyage is only the beginning of their trials. Eventually, they settle in New York City, Cleveland, and Monterey, California. Immigration in the early twentieth century was difficult at best. But assimilation proved an even greater challenge. The confused and frightened Italians in America is embodied in the lives of Giuseppe Mosca, Also Grimaldi, and Paolo Lachimia, as they make their way in a world in conflict with their heritage. In the first book, Adagio con Fear, they will endure the harsh reality of discrimination, World War, generational conflict, socialism, anarchism, facism, Carlo Tresca, and Sacco and Vanzetti. In the second book, Adagio con Promise, the story will continue as their descendants face the complexities of Mussolini, “enemy alien” labels, West Coast relocation, and even internment. In the end, however, this is not simply a story of survival. The children of the three families who made that voyage in 1915, though very different in experience and response, will return to us volumes of fortitude, character, and culture, ultimately establishing their place in the tapestry they once called L’America.

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