Between 1880 and 1920 an estimated four million Italians emigrated to the United States. Today some American states, such as Connecticut and New Jersey, the population of Italian origin is nearly 20% of the total. Italian-Americans comprise 5.6% of the overall U.S. population. The author deals with the history of Italian emigration towards the U.S. from its origins to the present day and addresses the following topics: the great wave starting at the end of the 19th century, the formation of ethnic communities, the development of emigrant political factions, widespread anti-Italian discrimination, consolidation of Mafia stereotypes and gradual post-WWII Americanization. The book also offers the reader a synthetic overview of various features of Italian-American culture: education, the Italian language, the role of theatre and music, the image of Italian-Americans in the movies.
Matteo Pretelli, a research fellow at the University of Trieste, teaches Italian History at Dickinson College in Bologna.