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Author's Notes


I was born and raised in blue-collar Detroit, Michigan, in the 1950s, followed by a career in school administration that spanned forty-some years. I researched and wrote, "The Last Italian: A Saga in Three Parts" - my first novel - over eighteen months, self-publishing the current version in 2020. My wife and I both hold dual Italian and American citizenship and live in the western USA.


My intention with this book is to make an intriguing piece of Italian history come alive for historical fiction readers seeking a good story a bit off the beaten path. The years of the Kingdom of Italy, 1861-1945, aren't that long ago, but I doubt many readers know much about them. Yet the Italy of those days was alive with issues and hardships that resonate now: epidemics, class tensions, emigration, fascism, bigotry, wars of invasion, to name a few. And, as in present days, many who lived during those dangerous times found the means to survive and even thrive. Love, rage, sacrifice, greed -- the driving forces in play then are relatable now. It's a recognition that creates relevancy, and it's relevancy and realism and a character-driven plot, I am hoping, that will bring this story home for you.


Thank you very much for your interest in "The Last Italian" and, if you are so inclined, for your kind endorsement of the title to your family and friends.






Research Notes for The Last Italian: A Saga in Three Parts


The fear of cholera that drove the characters of God's Teeth was well-known to the Italian population in the 19th century. The Fourth Cholera Pandemic that raged through Europe from 1863 to 1875 was followed within six years by a sequel lasting another fifteen. Experimental medicine was a matter of trial and error as desperate researchers applied the latest scientific discoveries, some barely tested, to affect a cure. The inadequate sewerage and waste management described in the story was a reality throughout Europe and beyond. It was only after the relationship of cholera with contaminated water was finally established that the disease was finally put on the road to eradication.

Milan of the late 19th century was very much a center of growth and construction in the late 1800s. Entrepreneurs teamed with Italian and foreign investors to vastly expand the country's rail and road systems. Upward mobility, stagnant for centuries, gradually became possible for the bold and the enterprising, regardless of birth status.


For decades, smuggling and brigandage were rampant particularly in the mountains; though waning to a degree by 1886, vestiges of lawlessness still remained.




Under Control: Life in a nineteenth-century silk factory

Carol Adams, Paula Bartley, Judy Lown, Cathy Loxton

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK (1983)


Immigrants on the Hill                                       

Gary Ross Mormino                                            

University of Illinois Press, Chicago, Ill. (1986) 


Who are Servants?                                                              

Raffaella Sarti                                                                      

Proceedings of Servant Project, vol. 2, pp 3-59


Wastewater Management through the Ages               

Giusy Lofrano, Jeanette Brown                        

Science of the Total Environment (October 2010)


Notes on Fourteen Cases of Cholera Treated by Hypodermic Injection of Strychnine

Surgeon G.K. Poole, MD, 18th Bengal Cavalry

Indian Medical Gazette, pp 260-261 (Dec. 1, 1869) 


The Controversial Experiments on the Intravenous Administration of Drugs (and Air) during the Cholera Epidemic of 1867 in Italy

Marco Cascella

Rev. Med. Chile 2015; 143; 1593-1597


The Pottery, Glass, & Brass Salesman                             

Wm. S. Pitcairn Corporation                             

O'Gorman Publishing Co., New York (August 2, 1917)


Continua La Nostra Storia: Via 'valle cave' e il suo prolungomento

Giuseppe Leoni

Corriere (Feb. 6, 2017)




Second Industrial Revolution in Italy (1860-1913)       

Renato Giannetti, Margherita Velucchi         

Banca d'Italia pdf. GIANETTI, 1860-1913       


History of the Road Network of Tuscany                        

Texts by Elena Fani

Posted on Website of

Museo Galileo - Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza

Firenze · ITALIA


Brigandage after 1860                                                      

Heritage Ezine, April 2001


Road materials and road construction in Italy between the mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century

C. Paola Scavizzi, CNR

History and Technology, Vol. 7, pp 197-210 (1991)


Brigandage in South Italy

David Hilton

London: Sampson Low, Son, and Marston

14 Ludgate Hill (1864)


English Travelers and Italian Brigands                            

William J.C. Moens                                             

Harper & Brothers, New York (1866)


Remarks on the Present System of Road Making; With Observations, Deduced from Practice and Experience (8th ed.)

McAdam, John Loudon

London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster Row (1824)




Fate's Restless Feet. Part I finds the main characters in the middle of the Kingdom of Italy's war with the Ottoman Empire and its invasion of Tripoli. True accounts of the Battle of Sciara Sciatt and its aftermath are varied; while journalists were on the scene shortly afterward, the "spin" of their accounts depended on the political affiliation of their home countries. As author, I tried to strike a balance in my narrative; to this end, Stephenson's A Box of Sand was very helpful. The military units named were those actually deployed, and except for the name of the fateful cemetery, which I kept fictional to allow for narrative creativity, the various locations included in the battle are real ones.

Historically, the role of the 8th Bersaglieri Regiment on October 23, 1911, was of prominent importance. My grandfather served at Tripoli during this time, and I have a photograph of him in his uniform and long-plumed vaira. He died before I was born, so I know little of his service, but I must surmise he was part of the 8th Bersaglieri. I do not know if he was with the regiment on October 23rd or deployed afterward. But for his sake and that of all the combatants on that harrowing day, I strived for accuracy of historical detail in my narrative.

Work in the rice fields of Piedmont and Lombardy was grueling but eagerly sought-after by the local populace. Emigration to the Americas was no walk in the park; my account of life in cross-Atlantic steamship steerage is a typical version of such passages. The tragedy I describe in the fictional town of Terrouge, Michigan, was inspired by true events that took place on December 24, 1913, in Calumet, Michigan. In his meticulously researched book, Death's Door, author Steven Lehto has written the definitive history of the heartbreaking calamity that occurred on that night, later memorialized by Woody Guthrie's angry ballad, The 1913 Massacre.



A Box of Sand                                   

Charles Stephenson                           

Tattered Flag, Chevron Publishing, UK (December 19, 2014)


To the Fourth Shore: Italy's War for Libya (1911-1912)

Bruce Vandervort                        

Roma: Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito, Ufficio Storico (2012)

Quattro eroici Bersaglieri abruzzesi nella sanguinosa e feroce “ battaglia di Sciara Sciatt"

Kim Redy

Zaffiro Magazine

Il Giornale di Montesilvano

06 maggio 2020


Turco‐Italian War (1911–1912)                                

Bruce Vandervort                                                      


Religious Traditions and Domestic Architecture: A Comparative Analysis of Zoroastrian and Islamic Houses in Iran

Sanjoy Mazumdar and Shampa Mazumdar

Journal of Architectural and Planning Research

Vol. 14, No. 3 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 181-208

Published by: Locke Science Publishing Company, Inc.


Battaglia di Sciara Sciatt

Wikipedia, l'enciclopedia libera


The Italians at Tripoli                                    


Blackwood Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. CXC (Jul-Dec 1911)

Dispatches from the World: The Life of Percival Phillips, War Correspondent

William R. Black

AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana (10/09/2012)

Luoghi della Memoria e Culto dei Caduti Italiani in Tripolitania (1911-1914)

Marco Bizzochi

Storia e Futuro

Revista di Storia e Storiografia On Line

Numero 50, Giugno 2019


Come Siamo Andati a Tripoli

Giuseppe Bevione

Fratelli Bocca Casa Editrice, Torino (1912)


Article segment                                              

Gaston Leroux                                               

Le Matin Journal, Paris (August 23, 1917)


Between Acceptance and Refusal - Soldiers' Attitudes Towards War (Italy)

By Vanda Wilcox

1914-1918 Online: Internal Encyclopedia of the First World War, (03 March 2016)


La storia delle colonie italiane: la conquista della Libia

Francesco Signorile


Diario di un Bersagliere                                 

Felice Piccioli                                                 

Edizione il Formichiere, Milan (1974)


Empires at War, 1911-1923: C. 2 The Italian Empire           

Richard Bosworth, Giuseppe Finaldi 

Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom (2014)                                      


Italy's War for a Desert                                  

Francis McCullagh                             

FG Browne, Chicago, Il (1913)

Sciara Sciatt, 1911. Fatti e misfatti del colonialismo italiano

Gianluca Gatti


14 novembre 2014 

Tripoli Italiana, La Guerra Italo-Turca                                               

Antonio de Martino                           

Societa' Libraria' Italiana, Italian Book Co. New York (1911)

The History of the Italian-Turkish War

Commodore W.H. Beehler USN

Copyright, 1913

Printed by the Advertiser Republican




Miners, Merchants, and Midwives; Michigan's Upper Peninsula Italians

Russell M. Magnaghi

Bell Fontaine Press, Marquette, MI (1987)


Ellis Island National Monument: The Immigrant Journey

American Park Network


Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder                                   

Steve Lehto                                                    

Momentum Books; Second edition (June 1, 2013)


How Women Weeding Italy's Rice Fields Took on Fascism and Became Heroines of the Left (March 8, 2018)


Stieglitz, The Steerage

Essay by Dr. Kris Belden-Adams                 

Khan Academy,


Passage to Liberty                                          

A. Kenneth Ciongoli, Jay Parini                                

Harper Collins Publishers (2002)

Examining patterns of Italian immigration to Michigan's Houghton County, 1860-1930

Master's Thesis by Cristina Menghini

Michigan Technological University, 2004


Death to the Wolf takes place during the last three years of the Second World War amid the decline and fall of the Kingdom of Italy. The plight of soldiers fighting and retreating with the Italian 8th Army in Russia are well-documented. In particular, the books by Eugenio Corti and Hope Hamilton provide many survivors' eyewitness accounts, some of which inspired various scenes in the novel. The retreat of Donato's fictional 118th Engineering Battalion among an unidentified mix of German and Italian units is imaginary and does not describe the historical path of the bulk of the 3rd Ravenna Division in its effort to avoid encirclement.


Italian partisan attacks against Fascist forces became especially active in the later stages of the war; reprisals on both sides were brutal. Alessandro Portelli's book, The Order Has Been Carried Out, describes the reprisal massacre carried out in Rome that I allude to in my novel. The Savoia monarchy ended with the war; Italians voted in 1946 to establish a republic.



Few Returned: 28 Days on the Russian Front, Winter 1942-1943

Eugenio Corti                                                                       

University of Missouri Press (1997)


Sacrifice on The Steppes                                   

Hope Hamilton                                                                    

Casemate; Reprint edition (June 8, 2011)


Retroscena della disfatta italiana in Russia nei documenti inediti dell 8a armata

Filonenko, Sergej Ivanovich, Scotoni, Giorgio.

Published by Casa Editrice Panorama, Trento, Italia. (2008)


Twenty-Fourth Tank Corps of 1st Guards Army in the Tatsinskaya Raid, December 1942

Blog at (March 2, 2017)


Italian Order of Battle, World War II, Vol. 1 : An Organizational History of the Italian Army in World War II: Armored, Motorized, Alpini & Cavalry Divisions

George F. Nafziger

Nafziger Collection (April 20, 1996)

Ultimi Giorni di Mussolini


Anno 62 n. 85 Quotidiano

(Domenica 21 Aprile 1985)

1943 Cronache di Uno Anno

Sergio Lepri'1943-chronachediunoanno/

10 Settembre 2016




Among the Italian Partisans: The Allied Contribution to the Resistance

Malcolm Tudor

Fonthill Media (April 11, 2016)

Women Entrepreneurs and Italian Industrialization: Conjectures and Avenues for Research

Barbara Curli


Enterprise & Society

Vol. 3, No. 4 (DECEMBER 2002), pp. 634-656 (23 pages)

Published by Cambridge University Press


The OSS and Italian Partisans in World War II:  Intelligence and Operational Support for the Anti-Nazi Resistance

Peter Tompkins

C.I.A. Historical Document (April 14, 2007)

Posted on C.I.A. library website: Apr 14, 2007 01:00 PM; Last Updated: Aug 21, 2018 11:30 AM


Arturo Bocchini and the Secret Political Police in Fascist Italy

Italo G. Savella

The Historian, Vol.60, No. 4 (SUMMER 1998) pp 779-793

Naples '44: An Intelligence Officer in the Italian Labyrinth

Norman Lewis

Eland Publishing Ltd.

New Ed edition

61 Exmouth Market, London, United Kingdom (31 July 2002)


The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-44

Rick Atkinson

Henry Holt and Company, New York (2007)


Gothic Line Offensive, 25 Aug 1944 - Dec 17, 1944

C. Peter Chen

World War II Database

Consolidated B-24 Liberator Manual: 1939 onwards

2nd Revised Edition

Douglas, Graeme

Haynes Publishing Group P.L.C

Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, UK (December 15, 2016)

The Order Has Been Carried Out: History, Memory, and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome

Portelli, Alessandro

Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY: (2003)




Fate, Honor, Family, Village                                              

Rudolph M. Bell                                                                  

University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill. (1979)


La Tradizione Migratoria: Ercole Belloli, Pioniere ed Organizzatore del Lavoro Migrante

Revista di studi storici di Lecco

Dr. Gian Franco Scotti


Di Arti e Professioni

Museo Storio Civico                                           

Villa Annoni, MI

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