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Living the Revolution: Italian Women's Resistance and Radicalism in New York City, 1880-1945 (Gender and American Culture) Hardcover – May 3, 2010
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"A riveting history that made me feel inspired, moved, and proud."
--Annabella Sciorra, actor
Living the Revolution will alter what you thought you knew--about Italian women, about immigrants, and about radicalism. Read this book!--Donna R. Gabaccia, University of Minnesota
Living the Revolution is a very special achievement--researched with extraordinary depth, conceptualized with sophistication, and written with both power and charm. Working from a fully bilingual archive, Guglielmo has arranged a thousand tiny fragments and shards into a coherent, compelling, and always soundly reasoned historical portrait. This is one of the best studies on any European ethnic group I have read in a very long time.--Matthew Frye Jacobson, Yale University
A groundbreaking piece of scholarship that finally shatters the notion that Italian American women were either apolitical or marginal players in U.S.-based immigrant politics in the first half of the twentieth century. This beautifully written and argued account restores Italian American women to the center of our historical understanding of anarchism in the United States as well as both pro- and antifascist organizing in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. Guglielmo's book also deepens historical understanding of race and whiteness in the urban North.--Annelise Orleck, author of Storming Caesar's Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty
A riveting history that left me feeling inspired, moved, and proud.--Annabella Sciorra
Here is the new paradigm in the history of gender and immigration. Guglielmo's careful attention to transnational capitalism and diaspora as well as to Italians' shifting political formations around race make this book as innovative and inspiring as the voices of Italian women anarchists she so vividly documents. A must-read!--Nan Enstad, University of Wisconsin, Madison
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Who among us can even envision a northern New Jersey clutching tight to New York via the tendrils of the garment and other departed industries, pocked with recently arrived anarchists from places like Avellino?
Jennifer Guglielmo's "Living the Revolution," assembles the research and words necessary to conjure that distant and disappeared time.
Some of this reviewer's antecedent's hailed from Avellino and the revelation in Guglielmo's book goes a long way toward explaining his own anarcho-syndicalist tendencies.
And explanation is necessary, because the Italian-American milieu in which he grew up was far from revolutionary. Uncles and aunts in Brooklyn and Queens loathed John Lindsay in favor of a hack named Mario Procaccino. When a black family moved into the neighborhood, a call of alarm went out.
To be Italian-American in mid-century New York was to be conservative, closed-minded and to wont for a liberal, higher education (generally speaking).
"Living the Revolution," goes a long way toward explaining how that happened: Italian-Americans desperately clinging to their classification as "white" by federal authorities; their frantic efforts to establish "American-ness" while the U.S. made war on Mussolini's Italy; the devastating impact of the Palmer Raids on the anarchist culture that took root in the tri-state area among Italian immigrant women.
Later on, according to this book, Italian and Italian-American women became active in the union movement, although their efforts to gain power were often thwarted and their contributions to the Ladies Garment Workers and other syndicates undervalued.
Guglielmo's book recuperates the ladies' names and actions, making great strides in combating the widely-held notion that they were somehow not militant. This appears to be the primary task she set out for herself in penning this text.
"Living the Revolution," sets the record straight. It's a work of historical scholarship and, from time-to-time, bogs down in minutiae, however necessary. Sometimes, the task at hand causes the author to wander far from the focus of her discussion and into the 19th-century uprisings in southern Italy or the writings of Antonio Gramsci.
In the end, it all ties together and Guglielmo's passion for the subject ultimately drives the narrative and should win over those who come to her story with a healthy curiosity.
"Living" is a feminist tract. It pulls from the rich filigree of events, that make up the first half of the 20th century, the prevailing policies, traditions and mores of patriarchy and white supremacy.
It dramatizes how these things weighed upon the activist women and illuminated the creativity they employed in combating them.
"Living the Revolution," not only rescues the names and profiles of some worthwhile people otherwise condemned to anonymity, it helps explain how we got where we are as a nation today, the good and the bad alike.
author of "L is for Lion: an italian bronx butch freedom memoir" SUNY Press
and "Schistsong" BORDIGHERA Press
L Is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir (SUNY series in Italian/American Culture)
Schistsong (Via Folios)
Carry My Coffee (Live)