The affect of Italian
culture is so ingrained in American culture that it’s taken for granted. Those influences are part of our everyday life—our
language, food, health, work, and leisure. Of course, America, itself, is named after an Italian; and four major European explorers
of the New World were Italian. But in those early years of American history, Italy was not a country, and Italian explorers sailed, discovered,
and explored for other countries.
From the very beginning
of American history, Italian American history has been mired by ambiguity. It’s only in the last 70 years or so that
concentrated efforts have been made to educate all Americans about how Italians and Italian Americans have significantly contributed
to American history.
In Heritage Italian-American
Style, Leon J. Radomile presents 1,776
facts about the history, heritage, and culture of Italiana; but rather than provide a list of accomplishments, Leon has assembled a vast amount of information into a question
and answer format.
What is the Italian word
for a female ballet dancer?
Whose name is printed
on almost every electrical devise in the world?
What percentage of World
War II veterans were Italian American?
For Leon, the path to writing Heritage Italian-American Style
started with a game he developed in 1985. Tired of the “cultural bashing of Italiana,” Leon decided to do “something that would be entertaining as well as informative.”
Building on the idea behind the then very popular Trivial Pursuit®, Leon created The Italian Heritage Game—1,492 questions
about Italian and Italian American culture. Through investors and backed with personal funds, he sold close to 10,000 games,
but five years later he had to close the business for lack of additional funding.
In 1999, Leon had the idea to convert the game materials into a book,
and another round of research began. He updated the earlier game materials, and in two years sold out of the first edition.
In 2002, a revised edition was published. Leon
expanded the questions to 1,776 and decided to publish the book as a bilingual edition. He thought it would be an excellent
learning tool for Italian language classes.
The Introduction in Heritage
Italian-American Style provides a look into the background of the book and the background of the author. The Dedication
and Acknowledgments are a testimony to the author and the people he worked with to bring the book to fruition.
Questions are divided
into five categories—Food, Music, and Entertainment; Art, Science and Literature; History, Geography and Business; Sports;
and Romans. The questions added to the second edition are included as a New Supplemental Section. Within this new supplement,
the questions are divided into the five categories. Adding the newer questions as a supplement, rather than to each category
readily identifies the amount of work, in regard to the questions, that has gone into the new edition.
Who is the family that
has redefined the art of pyrotechnics?
Who invented double entry
bookkeeping and revolutionized accounting?
What is the company that
is a leader in the technology of vehicle tires?
Another major accomplishment
was the Italian translation. While Leon
felt this would benefit Italian language students, it also benefits readers who may want to learn or brush up on their Italian,
and it’s a good source for Italians who may want to polish their English language skills.
The questions are numbered
successively, from 1 to 1,776, and the numbered answers—two columns to a page—immediately follow, making it very
easy to find the answer to a question. An Index is also included, with the question number (or in some cases, numbers) instead
of page numbers. The cross referencing is a handy feature. It allows the reader to browse either the questions or the answers,
and the answers can be found by the question number or in alphabetical order.
The book also includes
an Internet Website Directory of Italian and Italian American websites, several recipes, and What Columbus Started, an article
by Bill Dal Cerro. Leon is currently working
on a newer edition of Heritage Italian-American Style and adding more questions. The book is available through online
book stores and the author’s website, and for organizations and schools, Leon
offers a fundraising incentive when ordering through his website.
Style has much to offer the reader, and the information is tightly packed into 477 pages. Eyes may be directed toward
the Italian translations, which are bolded, but once a reader is acclimated to the format, it’s easier to focus on the
English questions. This is an excellent resource and educational tool (see Promote Italian American Heritage) for organizations, teachers, and schools; and a handy guide for parents who want to teach their children about Italian and
Italian American heritage. They can choose a few questions to discuss at the dinner table, or take the book along on road
Style is the perfect gift for anyone interested in Italian and Italian American history, heritage, and culture.
Leon J. Radomile Website
Great Italian Americans Puzzle (Puzzle based on material in book.)
What Columbus Started; A Typical “American” Day
Answers to Questions
Ballerina, Volt (for Alessandro
Volta), 25 percent, Grucci, Luca Pacioli, Pirelli
©2009 Janice Therese Mancuso