Book Presentation: “BRANDED: How Italian Immigrants Became �Enemies� During World War II” by Lawrence DiStasi

Lawrence DiStasi’s new book, Branded: How Italian Immigrants Became ‘Enemies’ During World War II, fills a great need in the history of the WWII home front. DiStasi’s previous book, Una Storia Segreta, while important for its range of essays and personal accounts, did not contain an overarching narrative of the key events. This is what DiStasi does in Branded. He takes the reader through the arrests and internments of the “potentially dangerous,” the restrictions on 600,000 immigrants branded as “enemy aliens,” their evacuation from West Coast prohibited zones, the seizure of fishing boats, and the release from the trauma after Italy surrendered. His last chapter is a wide-ranging discussion of the wartime’s impact on individuals and on the Italian community as a whole. In his talk, DiStasi will discuss these topics plus his father’s heretofore “secret” status as an enemy alien, and will have copies of Branded for sale. 

Respondent: Fred L. Gardaphé, Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies