Thursday, July 30, 2015

Paul Moses's "An Unlikely Union"

Paul Moses is Professor of Journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY and former city editor of Newsday, where he was the lead writer for a team that won the Pulitzer Prize. His book The Saint and the Sultan won the 2010 Catholic Press Association award for best history book.

Moses applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians, and reported the following:
Page 99 in An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians has just twelve lines—it ends a chapter—but it includes one of the quotes that made it so much fun to do the research for this book. It’s from a letter written by Terence V. Powderly, an Irish American labor leader in the late 19th century whose earlier comments on Italians—he had viewed them as strikebreakers who were unfit to be Americans—sounded a bit like Donald Trump’s remarks on Mexicans. Powderly wrote the letter while traveling in Italy, where he got to know Italians and discovered that he quite liked them. From page 99:
He decided that “we have not done our duty by ourselves or by our country, in not getting close enough to our immigrants to hear their heartbeats. If we thought they were wrong we could not set them right by remaining aloof from them.”
And indeed, Irish Americans would eventually draw much closer to Italian Americans, leading to intermarriage on a large scale by the mid-20th century. That’s the story An Unlikely Union tells: how the Irish and Italians went from rivalry to romance. From page 99, Powderly’s change of heart is one piece of that story.
Learn more about An Unlikely Union at the NYU Press website.

Writers Read: Paul Moses.

--Marshal Zeringue