La Storia

by Jerre Mangione, Ben Morreale

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Here are some important quotes from La Storia:

  • "What documents? Documents. They left because they were morti di fame—dying of hunger" (xvi). When the mayor of an Italian town was asked in 1976 if there were any documents explaining why so many Italians left for America, he answered in this way. He explained that one does not need documents to know that Italians were living in poverty and sought a better life in the United States.
  • "For people who had been steeped in the myth of America all their lives, the first encounters of the promised land were bound to clash with preconceived expectations" (124). Mangione writes about the way in which Italian immigrants had imagined a different America than the one they found, which was exciting but in which they were often relegated to living in cramped railroad flats in poverty.
  • "Statistics show that the Italian immigrants involved in American racketeering were few compared to the sons of immigrants who were assimilated into American criminal life" (242). The author notes that very few Italian immigrants were involved in organized crime; instead, organized crime resulted from the sons of Italian immigrants coming into contact with, and being assimilated into, American patterns of crime.
  • "The movement towards a more conservative union movement no doubt reflected the desire of the majority of Italian immigrants simply to make a living in the best way they could in a new world they had yet to understand" (306). The author traces the movement of Italian workers from socialist and radical organizations to more mainstream unions in an attempt to better their working conditions in America.
  • "With the exception of Garibaldi, no Italian political leader could arouse the immigrants' visceral attachment to their homeland as fiercely as a celebrated opera singer" (306). The author explains the ways in which Italians in the US remained connected to Italy through its music.
  • "The longstanding tradition of anticlericalism was especially virulent among males; however, the church continued to be nourished by women" (326). Male Italian immigrants, the author notes, were largely opposed to the Catholic church because the church had opposed the unification of Italy and had supported Mussolini. However, women were still fiercely devoted to the church and supported it in America.

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