Document Type

Book Chapter

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Publication Title

Italian Cultural Studies, 2001: Selected Essays


The idea for this essay originated from a book of fascist propaganda that was given to me by a colleague who taught for many years at my institution. As a young man, Paul lived with his family in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and still recalls the day when his father, an importer of Italian products, arrived at home with a beautifully illustrated, bilingual volume titled La Nuova Italia. La guerra che preferiamo published in New York in 1939. The front page of the volume, now included in the special collection of the Dickinson College library, reads: “Omaggio della Ditta di Antonio Piccini, Importer and Wholesale Grocer, Wallabout Market, Brooklyn, N.Y,” followed by a dedication: “Al Caro Amico Angiolillo, signed Antonio Piccini,” dated March 19, 1940. The book, however, was not a real “omaggio.” According to Paul Angiolillo, his father purchased a copy of the book that the association of Italian food merchants had sponsored, by making a “suggested” donation. In those years the business was weak, and Angiolillo bought the volume for the sake of keeping some status in the association, which was decidedly pro-fascist. In the late thirties, according to Angiolillo’s son, expressing openly anti-fascist sentiments in the Italian American community could have jeopardized the business and perhaps even exposed it to attacks.


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