The Great War challenged all who were touched by it. Italian immigrants, torn between their country of origin and country of relocation, confronted political allegiances that forced them to consider the meaning and relevance of Americanization. In his engrossing study, Little Italy in the Great War, Richard Juliani focuses on Philadelphia’s Italian community to understand how this vibrant immigrant population reacted to the war as they were adjusting to life in an American city that was ambivalent toward them.
Juliani explores the impact of the Great War on many immigrant soldiers who were called to duty as reservists and returned to Italy, while other draftees served in the U.S. Army on the Western Front. He also studies the impact of journalists and newspapers reporting the war in English and Italian, and reactions from civilians who defended the nation in industrial and civic roles on the home front.
Within the broader context of the American experience, Little Italy in the Great War examines how the war affected the identity and cohesion of Italians as a population still passing through the assimilation process.