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Marginal Man: Life of Emilio Goggio

by Paul Redvers Brown

Regular price$9.99 Sale price$14.99
ISBN: 9798869984623
Publication Date: 31 January 2024 | ISBN: 979-8869984623 | Pages: 406 | Paperback |

Marginal Man helps close a gap in the history of Italian Studies in North America, during the years between World War I and World War II. The period was traumatic for many, especially those who had known Italy as an ally in the First World War and were caught off guard when Italy was the enemy in the Second. After World War II, those years of my grandfather’s life were intentionally blurred. Marginal Man brings the fullness and complexity of his life back into focus.


“With a grandson’s heart and the mind of a scholar, Paul Brown takes us on a literary journey well worth traveling. Marginal Man is the story of Emilio Goggio who, as a young boy, boarded a ship from Italy to America. In Boston, he lived and worked with his father, who he had never previously met. He achieves the American dream, graduating from Harvard and eventually settling in Toronto to teach the Italian studies that he loves. Pride in his mother country, and enthusiasm for 1920s Fascism, left him a victim of wartime “cancel culture” — struggling to restore his reputation throughout his twilight years. Painstakingly researched, Brown weaves his knowledge into a seamless recounting of Goggio’s remarkable life. It is a journey of great highs and desperate lows, in a bygone era, eerily similar to the world today.” — Tom Philp, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Sacramento Bee

“Paul Redvers Brown provides a sweeping view of the era that saw the rise and fall of Fascism in Italy and its repercussions among the Italian communities in North America. This ambitious reconstruction is the backdrop that allows him to keep the promise he made as a young man to write the biography of his grandfather, Emilio Goggio. The result is Marginal Man, a meticulously detailed portrait, where filial piety and family ties never obscure historical accuracy and documentary evidence. Brown expertly merges world politics and personal memories to shed light and invite inquiry on the complexities of a man and the times he lived in.” — Cristina Della Coletta, Dean, School of Arts and Humanities, University of California, San Diego

“With impressive journalistic meticulousness, the author attempts to precisely define the nature of Goggio’s sometimes murky association with the Italian government, which certainly involved the dissemination of state-sponsored propaganda, for which he likely received monetary remuneration. In fact, Goggio was so successful at “spreading the gospel of Fascism” that he was knighted by the King of Italy. With admirable intelligence and clarity, Brown attempts to explain how such a morally decent and thoroughly intelligent man could become so attached to a politically nefarious movement: ‘Professor Goggio was predisposed to embrace the patriotic signals emitting from radio beacons in Italy. He was entranced by Mussolini’s showmanship, having been awakened to the powerful appeal of mass media himself. From his location in North America, ‘Italy’ was a combination of literary trope, nostalgic memories, and cultural iconography. Emilio’s Italy flourished in the landscape of his mind—the ethereal home of his self-esteem and identity.’ The sole failing of the author’s thoughtful biography—one that’s unabashedly affectionate but appropriately critical as well—is that he dwells on the minute details of Goggio’s quotidian and professional life in an apparent attempt to achieve encyclopedic comprehensiveness. As a result, some sections read like a narrated curriculum vitae. Nonetheless, this is an intellectually engrossing work and a thrilling portal into tumultuous historical times. A captivating blend of personal biography and world history.” —Kirkus Reviews

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