May is the month we celebrate Mother’s Day and since many of us had mothers (and fathers too) who were born in Italy and spent their early years there, when Fascism was in full flower, I thought I would remind you to order Dr. Nicholas La Bianca’s book “Growing up under Fascism in a Little Town in Southern Italy”. The words “little town” is what makes the difference in this memoir. The author’s “little town” is Giovinazzo, province of Bari, but his every day living “racconti” mirror those of my mother and father in every way and even his small vintage photos could have come out of my album.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:
“I was born when Fascism was very well established, and at that time all the people of my generation had no way to compare its type of government with any other. In school it was pointed out that the present government under the great leader Mussolini was the best and that the destiny of our nation depended on him. We were so well brainwashed with those ideas in the early years of our lives that even later in high education classes, while studying ancient history and other types of governments, we were never tempted to confront some of the totalitarian lines of Fascist theory”.
Nota Bene: Readers with “roots” in Southern Italy or for those of you who have visited mamma’s old “paese” in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, this will be a most nostalgic read. Order it now.
Growing up under Fascism in a little town in Souther Italy by Nicholas La Bianca
•Cost: $19.99 softcover
•ISBN: 978-1-4415-7060-4 •Visit: www.nicholaslabianca.com or call (818) 795-4274 ext. 7876
Nicholas La Bianca has previously published “Life: Its problems and some of its Unanswerable questions”, “Education: a view from the inside” and “An immigrant’s long and difficult way to become American” which are also available.
“Growing up under Fascism in a little town in Souther Italy” is one man’s story that belongs to many. Nicholas La Bianca, a retired teacher of Italian, takes us back to the time when life was simple and full of ups and downs that combined to make him the successful man he became. Vivid details of daily life, seasonal celebration, and life during World War II bring this memoir to life and make it relevant. Illustrated with personal and historical photos, this book is a lesson in life worthy for all to learn.
Fred Gardaphe, distinguished Porfessor of English and Italian-American Studies, prolific author and Associate Editor of Fra Noi, an Italian-American monthly magazine (3800 Division Street, Stone Park, Illinois 60165) wrote a review about “Growing up under Fascism in a Little Town of Southern Italy” by Dr. Nicholas La Bianca, for Fra Noi and OggItalia News (Florida). Upon his return from the University of Padova and the University of Palermo, where he taught Italian students a mini-course in Italian-American Literature, I spoke with professor Gardaphe on the telephone and he graciously gave me a permission to share his book review with you. So “Grazie” Signor Gradaphe and as they say in Italian “per cortesia di Fred Gradaphe”, here are a few excerpts: Born in Giovinazzo, Italy, a little town near Bari, La Bianca immigrated to the United States after World War II and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.
He went on to become a teacher in New York and Long Island schools, and after his retirement, he dedicated his time to writing books. “Growing up under Fascism” should become required reading for anyone studying history of Italy and its mass immigration. Through it, we gain details of daily life and seasonal celebrations during World War II that make his memoir alive and relevant. La Bianca opens with a historical and geographical study of his hometown and its relationship to the actions that took place during German occupation and the Allied invasion. His early life was difficult, but his message is both instructional and inspirational: that the family can take care of itself, that families together can take care of their communities, that you have to work to eat, and that education can lead to a better life no matter what obstacles a government places in your path. Feste, courting, marriages, baptisms and funerals are all presented in clear recollections that enable to relieve the good times and the bad.
Throughout the book, La Bianca has inserted personal and historical photos, along with the images from posters and postcards that provide a visual sense of what was important to the people who shared his experiences. Together with his narrative, this book transcends one man’s personal story to create the type of understanding that comes from expert anthropology combined with aspects of sociology and history. For many years after the war, fascism was a dirty word in Italian and very few people would talk, let alone write, about their experiences during this troubled era of Italian culture. With this book, La Bianca joins the ranks of true historians and great memoir writers”.
This past summer, his hometown of Giovinazzo honored Dr. La Bianca with a presentation of his book in Italian translation. Bravely facing the realities of its past, the town formed a panel of distinguished scholars and citizens to discuss the book and honor the man who put his and their history into print. A reviewer called the book “a little masterpiece that merits much attention beyond the people who lived in this town. This homecoming marks a turning point in the history of the town and the life of one of its brave citizens whose story, though common to many, has come to represent the importance of writing personal histories”. La Bianca’s motive for writing this book is found in his dedication to “my two beautiful granddaughters: Sophia and Julian, hoping that someday they may want to know more about their nonno and some of their roots”. For Sophia, Julian and every other Italian-American, “Growing up under the Fascism” is a road map that can be used to discover the way Italian culture has influenced the lives they have in America.