The Italian Americans reveals the unique and distinctive qualities of one immigrant group’s experience, and how these qualities, over time, have shaped and challenged America. At the turn of the 20th century, many Italians immigrants came to work, earn money to support their families, and eventually return home. Nearly half of the first generation Italian immigrants did return to Italy, but for those that made America home, their struggle to maintain a distinct Italian culture was guided by remarkably powerful ideals of family that had always been at the center of their lives. While the power of the Italian family became a source of strength, it also bred suspicion, popularized in popular media as a dark, criminal element. This clash of culture echoed through generations of Italian Americans as they entered positions of political, social, and cultural influence. Through extensive archival materials and interviews with scholars and notable Italian Americans such as Tony Bennett, Nancy Pelosi, Gay Talese and John Turturro, The Italian Americans tells the story of those who played vital roles in helping to shape a unique Italian American identity and to transform American life and culture.