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Amore: The Story of Italian American Song Hardcover – September 14, 2010


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Amore: The Story of Italian American Song + La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865476985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865476981
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,334,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Rotella's revelatory follow-up to Stolen Figs is much more than the story of the years after the war and before the Beatles, when Italian-Americans ruled popular music--it's an astute examination of how the Italians integrated into America. With thorough research combined with a lyrical writing style (" voice glides like a bow over the strings"), Rotella transports readers into a vibrant, colorful world with tours of a museum devoted to the megaselling Enrico Caruso, complete with cans of Caruso Olive Oil ("100 percent olive oil for Italians; a blend of 75 percent peanut and 25 percent olive oils ÿfor 'mericans' ") and of onetime superstar Nick Lucas's old neighborhood in Belleville, N.J. Folk and popular songs from Italy are deftly woven into the larger story of how a once unwelcome ethnic group became a vital part of American culture. In documenting the progress of Italian integration into mainstream America, classic songs such as Frank Sinatra's "I've Got the World on a String," Frankie Lane's "That Lucky Old Sun," and Dean Martin's "That's Amore" create opportunities to expand on the story of the singer, the song, and the state of the union, resulting in a rich and reverential tapestry. Rotella's keen eye and enthusiast's ear make for sumptuous reading and will garner a renewed appreciation for these performers while those readers unfamiliar with the major works of Tony Bennett or Perry Como, let alone Russ Columbo and Julius La Rosa, will be inspired to load up their iPod.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Like the singers and songs it celebrates, Amore gets a lot done in a tight, memorable, heartfelt way.  This isn't just a book about Italian-American crooners—it's an intimate account of immigrant life, a history of an enduring art form, a tribute to family, an evocation of the power of song, and a deeply personal reckoning with the music itself. It's a love song in its own right, and it's beautifully sung.” —Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“What a beautiful thing is Amore! Rotella knows these singers like family, and he writes with a passion that turns each of their songs into a grace note about the uphill climb of Italians in America.” —Anthony DePalma, author of City of Dust

“Amore brings to mind nothing less than Martin Scorsese's documentaries on movie history. Rotella is an impassioned student of Italian-American culture whose personal journey through the music of his heritage is a work of art itself.” —David Hajdu, music critic for The New Republic

“In this lively anecdotal history, full of engaging profiles and nice autobiographical touches, Mark Rotella explores how a whole wave of hugely talented Italian-American singers dominated the pop charts in the 1940s and 1950s with sounds that have set a standard ever since.” —Morris Dickstein, author of Dancing in the Dark

“This book is a box of candy for those who love American popular songs, as I do—and those interested in the fate of Italian culture on American soil. In Amore, Mark Rotella has looked through the kaleidoscope of his attractive prose at a major postwar phenomenon—the emergence of Italian American music for a mass audience. What he finds here will delight readers, who will demand a soundtrack for this highly entertaining volume.” —Jay Parini, author of The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year

“By seamlessly blending personal memoir and historical insights into Italian American singers—all against an ever-changing America—Mark Rotella has produced a book that is big-hearted and flat-out beautiful.” —Wil Haygood, author of In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr.

“Rotella explains the magic of the music; the charisma of Caruso, the charm of Columbo, the nonchalance of Como, the presence that was Prima and the singularity that was Sinatra . . . This is a book for Italian Americans, music lovers, and anyone who enjoys a good read.” —Paul Paolicelli, author of Dances with Luigi

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
I just finished reading Amore.
Michael J. Fiorito
Like so many others, I've always found the classic songs of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Perry Como comforting.
Ken Kardash
I loved it and would recommend to any one because it's interesting and it's easy reading.
Mr. Anatol W. Brunton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Fiorito on September 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Amore. I have to say that it's both an important and informative work - not to mention incredibly readable. While I was able to reminisce on the music my mother and father loved, I also learned a lot about the cultural conditions and influences that has continued to make Italian-American's great singers, musicians, and instrument makers. More than a book of nostalgia, it's a cultural study in the tradition of Greil Marcus and Peter Guralnick. Anyone interested in music is going to value this book.

I hope that Amore continues to stimulate further writing on an important subject that has certainly not received enough attention.

Russ Columbo has become a new favorite of mine!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ken Kardash on November 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like so many others, I've always found the classic songs of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Perry Como comforting. But for the author, they and their stories are not only comforting but also a touchstone to his heritage. Which is what makes this book so different and touching to read - it's more than either a collective biography or memoir. Each short chapter covers the heyday of a particular singer, some well known, others less so, but always connected to the larger theme of the influence of Italian culture on American popular music. Rotella's sheer joy in the music and enthusiasm for his theme can be almost giddy at times, and I found myself laughing out loud upon seeing chapters on Elvis and Sammy Davis Jr. But somehow he makes it work.
It was a discovery to see how the singers traced their musical heritage through one another to Italian opera, and how interconnected they were to the paths of their contemporaries, often coming from the same neighborhoods. The author's trips to these neighborhoods, and identification with the culture, add personal warmth to the telling. The sentiments can be bittersweet, though. The genesis of the book was an exploration of the music that gave courage to the author and his wife as they battled cancer. I was also shocked to read that Italian-American immigrants had been subjected to lynching and wartime civil internment camps. Rather than derailing the otherwise joyful tone of his story, this highlights the depth of the passion from which all the music and memories arise. It's a story told with amore.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia W. Grossi on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book and just what we were looking for. My husband's mom turned 90 and had read an article about the origin of the song "Ole solo mio" in a magazine. Being Italian-America, she wanted to know more and had heard some of these stories as a child. This book made a wonderful birthday gift. She was delighted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Anatol W. Brunton on November 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amore: The Story of Italian American Song is a great book. It sure summarizes the past 50 years of most popular singers. I loved it and would recommend to any one because it's interesting and it's easy reading.

Anatol Brunton
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By Harry on April 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a long-time Tony Bennett fan, I was fascinated by the historical and critical analysis that this book, clearly a labor of love, provides. Amore will appeal, certainly, to Italian-Americans, for whom this is probably a celebration of cultural identity. For the rest of us, it's a finely written cultural study that places Tony, Frankie, and so many others in context. It's a wonderful contribution to our understanding of American popular culture.
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Amore: The Story of Italian American Song
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