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There is exactly one strong woman in the movie "The Godfather," and she's not Italian. (It's "Kay Adams," played by the least Italian-looking actress alive, Diane Keaton.) Such is the stereotype about Italian women, at least in the U.S. They are always in the background, sometimes cooking for la famiglia, sometimes counting rosary beads, sometimes simply missing (as in the case of "The Godfather" films). Alas, it's all wrong. In her pathbreaking book Living the Revolution: Italian Women's Resistance and Radicalism in New York City (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), Smith College historian Jennifer Guglielmo dives into the archives to show that before the First World War Italian women were at the forefront of radical, predominantly socialist politics in the New York City region. They organized parties and unions; protested and marched for fairness and against injustice; they struck and stood fast on the picket line; they wrote and published newspapers, flyers and books. And, in their daily lives, they tried as best they could to "live the Revolution." As Jennifer points out, though, Italian women had to adapt. The ways they did so involved becoming both American and "white." It's a fascinating story remarkably well told. I urge you to read it.


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