The Bravery and Sacrifice of Our Italian Ancestors Is Being Forgotten

Feb 14, 2018 761

A new book, Cambridge Street, is written in their honor. Author Steven Decker has written a story, inspired by true events, that has been called “A must read” and “… a tribute to the ancestors of every Italian.” Decker said “For too long, Italian immigrants have been criminalized in books and movies and their violent acts glamorized.

The real story is that 99% of the Italians came here to work hard and give their families better lives. I hope I did them justice in my novel about one family whose bravery and sacrifice represents millions.” Steven Decker grew up in a large, thriving Sicilian family on the north side of Chicago. “I learned first-hand that the basis of the culture is love of family and faith in God,” he said.

Decker is a grandfather and a military veteran. “I remember my grandparents, aunts and uncles telling us about the struggle of becoming Americans. I was in awe of their sacrifice then, and I still am now.” “The more I researched the immigrant experience, the more I became shocked by the treatment of my ancestors. I wanted, I needed, to tell their story. Times were tough for them; they had to learn to be tougher.”

Cambridge Street picks up the Tomaso saga on a sweet-smelling farm in Sicily. Tomas and Katerina have three boys: Paolo, Renzo, and Leonardo. On the verge of poverty and after getting caught up in a Mafia web of violence, the family decides to send their sons to America. It is a heart-breaking separation: each must say good bye to the people they love knowing they will likely never see them again.

In America, at the dawning of the Roaring Twenties, the arrivals must adjust to life as unskilled laborers in the squalid city of Chicago, living in the tenements on Cambridge Street. They want to grow their families in peace but soon they are confronted by the same murder, terror, violence, and organized crime they tried to flee. Men from the Old Country with names like Malo Tancredi, Gazzo and Lupo run the people and businesses here like they did back home. The obstacles to a peaceful life seem insurmountable and inevitable. 

When an act of stunning and horrible violence is committed against them by their own countrymen, the Tomasos must decide on a course of action that will define them as people and determine the futures of their children.

You can reach Steve at CambridgeStreet@comcast.net.

Cambridge Street is available now on Amazon, Kindle and at CambridgeStreet.net.

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