Bookclub n. 8 – Giugno 2017

Bookclub n. 8 – Giugno 2017

Il Book Club è una proposta della riflessione storiografica che C’era una volta l’America ospita tra le righe della rubrica Americana. L’iniziativa ha lo scopo di stilare periodicamente un elenco delle pubblicazioni segnalateci da ex alunni, studiosi e appassionati, riguardanti pubblicazioni italiane e non, attinenti alla storia americana. Invitiamo tutti i lettori a inviarci nuove segnalazioni al seguente indirizzo:



R. Baritono, Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations: “Diplomacy from Below” and the Search for a New Transatlantic Dialogue, in European Journal of American Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 2017: Special Issue – Eleanor Roosevelt and Diplomacy in the Public Interest.

In 1945, Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as a member of the American delegation to the first session of the United Nations in an effort to send a signal to the many associations who wanted to have a role in the redefinition of the post-war democratic order. ER’ s commitment to peace and social justice was an expression of internationalism ‘from below’, which was convinced that the challenge to enlarge and make democracy more inclusive, more respectful of gender, racial, and ethnic differences had to be won not only in the domestic political sphere but also in the international one. The paper will explore the intrinsic contradiction which was at the root of ER’ s engagement in the UN. On the one hand, she was conscious of her official status as American officer and the symbol of the American democratic model; on the other, her will to give expression and voice to the questions posed by American and European civic associations and their commitment to democracy, social justice and human rights in the growing Cold War climate provoked tensions and ambiguities that proved difficult to solve.

M. Battistini, The Transatlantic Making of the American Middle Class: The Origins of an Essential Category of the American Century, in V. Bavaro, G. Fusco, S. Fusco, D. Izzo, Harbor, Flows and Migrations of Peoples, Cultures and Ideas: The USA in/and the World, Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017, pp. 199-216.

The essay shows how the intellectual origins of the twentieth-century American middle class were entangled in the transnational networks of political and scientific confrontation developed in Europe between the late nineteenth century and the two World Wars. The literature of the English new liberalism and Labour, the French social sciences and German sociology provided rich methodological and conceptual tools and a broad archive of empirical research that American social sciences successfully used to build a vision of the middle class that was called to overcome the rigid theories and historical interpretations (economicism and historical materialism) of classic liberalism and Marxism. The American social sciences created not only an analytical tool for the understanding of society and politics after Second World War, but also an “ideological category” to normalize social and political life and avoid radicalization in both politics and society. By this way, the middle class became the protagonist of American national history and the cornerstone of the American exceptionalism.

E. Bini, Oil for The Free World: US Public Relations as Cultural Diplomacy in Post-World War II Italy, in Ricerche di storia politica, 1/2017, aprile, pp. 3-22.

his article analyzes the different public relations (PR) activities Esso (Standard Oil New Jersey’s Italian affiliate) carried out in post-World War II Italy, and how they intersected with US forms of cultural diplomacy during the Cold War and with an effort to shape the country’s economic reconstruction and oil politics. It argues that between the late 1940s and the mid-1960s, the company advanced new and original interpretations of the role firms should have in a consumer economy and society, and in a modern democracy. In a context characterized by low levels of consumption, by limited forms of advertising, and by a general unwillingness to open up corporations to new forms of communication with the public, Esso imported a series of PR techniques from the US and adapted them to the Italian context. Its influence was particularly clear in the various professional associations that emerged in Italy during the 1950s, which drew inspiration from Esso and its «PR men». The article contributes to existing studies about US forms of influence on Italy’s economic and political reconstruction, and about the importance of cultural diplomacy during the Cold War.

D. Fazzi, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Anti-Nuclear Movement. The Voice of Conscience, 2016, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 202.

This book explores Eleanor Roosevelt’s involvement in the global campaign for nuclear disarmament. Based on an extensive multi-archival research, it assesses her overall contribution to the global anti-nuclear campaign of the early cold war and shows how she constantly tried to raise awareness of the real hazards of nuclear testing. She strove to educate the general public about the implications of the nuclear arms race and, in doing so, she became for many a trustworthy anti-nuclear leader and a reliable voice of conscience.​

D. Fazzi, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Peculiar Pacifism: Activism, Pragmatism, and Political Efficacy in Interwar America, in European Journal of American Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 2017: Special Issue – Eleanor Roosevelt and Diplomacy in the Public Interest.

In the interwar years, American women have played a major role in shaping both the domestic and the international debate on peace, by spreading pacifist tenets and merging them with the promotion of social justice and human rights. Leading figures of the women’s peace campaign such as Emily Balch, Lillian Wald, and Jane Addams have lived their personal struggle for peace as an opportunity to enhance the universal condition of women’s lives and at the same time promote workers’ rights, international disarmament, and the empowerment of the international institutions. Eleanor Roosevelt was not only an integral part of this interwar pacifist chorus, but she also represented one of its most influential voices. Although her biographers have stressed the impact of this period on her political and intellectual formation, a systematic account of her contribution to the shaping of the American interwar pacifism is still missing and this is precisely the broad scope of my article. I will therefore define Eleanor Roosevelt’s peculiar pacifism as one mostly characterized by a prominent inclination toward activism, a pragmatic attitude, and a compelling political efficacy.

S. Luconi, The Fallacies of Political Hybridity: Transcultural Identities and the Italian-American Vote in Italy’s Election and Referenda, in V. Bavaro, G. Fusco, S. Fusco, D. Izzo, Harbor, Flows and Migrations of Peoples, Cultures and Ideas: The USA in/and the World, Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017, pp. 453-470.

Luconi’s contribution focuses on the Italian-American vote in Italy’s elections and referenda, in a transnational and transcultural perspective. After tracing the history of the right to vote for citizens of the so-called Italian diaspora from the fascist era on, Luconi moves on to analyzing the reasons behind the quite modest turnout of Italian American citizens who claimed their right to vote in 2001 as well as the trends in the following elections and referenda.

M. Morini, Trump & Co. Miliardari in politica nella crisi del neoliberismo, Roma, Castelvecchi, 2017, pp. 132.

Questo libro offre un’analisi del crescente fenomeno dei miliardari che entrano in politica. Partendo dall’eccezionale campagna elettorale di Donald Trump negli Stati Uniti d’America, lo studio ripercorre le storie di altri cinque miliardari che sono riusciti a conquistare il potere politico: Silvio Berlusconi in Italia, Cristoph Blocher in Svizzera, Mauricio Macri in Argentina, Sebastian Piñera in Cile e Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailandia. Attraverso un’accurata ricerca comparata, il libro mette in luce analogie e differenze tra i sei miliardari, confrontandone le storie imprenditoriali, l’origine delle fortune, il rapporto con le donne e con la religione, lo sport come veicolo di popolarità, il processo di costruzione delle carriere politiche, lo stile di comunicazione, di leadership e di governo. Poiché il loro ingresso in politica e le vittorie elettorali sono avvenute in contesti geografici, sociali e politici così diversi, l’ipotesi è che la loro ascesa politica sia da ascriversi non solo alle strategie comunicative ma anche a un drammatico processo di trasformazione dei sistemi politici e a una generale disillusione e depoliticizzazione degli elettori. 

RSA journal. Rivista di studi americani, Vol. 27/2016, The United States between transnationalism and interculturality, pp. 188.

RSAJournal (Rivista di Studi Americani) is the official journal of AISNA (Italian Association of North American Studies). It publishes research and scholarship in all aspects of the language, literature, history, politics, society, cinema, and culture of the United States, either in itself or in its global context, and it invites contributions by both members and non-members on specific topics in the field as well as general essays. RSA is peer reviewed and appears annually.

Dall’indice, si segnalano in particolare:

D. Fiorentino, Introduction
T. Bender, The United States in World History: Transnationalism v. Exceptionalism
C. Glenney Boggs, The Transnational and Global Perspectives of American Studies in the 2oth and 21th Centuries
F. Fasce, Americanizing the World? U.S. Advertising Abroad in the American Century, the View from Italy
R. Baritono, V. Gennero et. al., Forum: Gender, Women’s and American Studies
F. Gardaphé, Beyond the Immigrant Paradigm: New Italian American Identities and Communities

Il numero è interamente disponibile al seguente link:

M. Sanfilippo, Gli Stati Uniti visti dall’Italia. Gli studi americanistici nel 2016, in Il Veltro. Rivista della civiltà italiana, n.4-6, ano LX, Luglio-Dicembre 2016, pp. 165-172.

Il numero è interamente disponibile al seguente link:

A. Santese, Ambientalismo, pacifismo e Guerra Fredda: il nuovo antinuclearismo nella storiografia statunitense, in Ricerche di Storia Politica, 1/2017, pp. 43-56. 

La rassegna esamina i principali temi del dibattito storiografico statunitense sul nuovo antinuclearismo, ossia la contestazione del nucleare sia civile sia militare, emersa dagli anni Settanta. In particolare, l’antinuclearismo ha ricevuto una crescente attenzione dalla storiografia ambientalista che ha analizzato il fenomeno attraverso le campagne sviluppatesi a livello locale. Un altro filone, quello della peace history, si è concentrato invece sull’opposizione alle armi nucleari, pensando l’antinuclearismo come una forma specifica di pacifismo delineatasi nel corso della Guerra Fredda, e sottolineando i tentativi dei gruppi di protesta di agire a livello transnazionale. Incrociando storia della Guerra Fredda e storia sociale e culturale, un altro gruppo di lavori ha studiato l’impatto simbolico e discorsivo creato dallo sviluppo della tecnologia nucleare. La produzione storiografica più recente ha infine cercato di intrecciare le prospettive offerte dalla storia ambientale e dalla storia della Guerra Fredda, indagando l’impatto ecologico del conflitto bipolare.

A. Santese, La presidenza Obama: primi tentativi di valutazione, in Contemporanea, 1/2017, pp. 161-173.

L’avvento allo scranno presidenziale di Barack Obama, oltre a suscitare uno straordinario entusiasmo in ampi segmenti dell’opinione pubblica su entrambe le sponde dell’Atlantico, tanto che nei commenti giornalistici si è spesso parlato di una vera e propria Obamania, ha attirato, sin dalla campagna per le primarie democratiche, una notevole attenzione sia da parte della pubblicistica sia della comunità accademica, americana e non. Dal 2007 sono stati numerosissimi i volumi pubblicati da studiosi, giornalisti e commentatori di diversa appartenenza politica che hanno analizzato la sua personalità, la sua agenda politica e i programmi realizzati durante i suoi due mandati. In tale profluvio di pubblicazioni è spesso possibile distinguere chiaramente due gruppi, soprattutto nei lavori di giornalisti e commentatori politici: gli apologeti e i detrattori del Presidente.  Se è difficile individuare ricostruzioni bilanciate ed equilibrate sulla presidenza Obama in ambito giornalistico, il compito risulta certamente più facile se si guarda a quanto prodotto dalla comunità accademica. In tale ambito sono stati individuati quattro volumi di quattro diversi studiosi che, ricorrendo ad approcci differenti, si sono cimentati con quella che può essere definita storia del presente in maniera distaccata, non partigiana ed equilibrata, sia pure con sfumature di giudizio parzialmente difformi sulla personalità e soprattutto sull’operato di Obama.




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