In the churches, schools and streets of New York’s poorest neighborhoods, two of the city’s largest communities clashed violently for decades — the Irish and Italian immigrants who came over by the millions in the mid-19th and early-20th centuries. In “An Unlikely Union,” on sale now from NYU Press, journalist Paul Moses tells the story of these two groups and how their relationship evolved from combative to collaborative in the years following WWII, when New York’s Irish and Italian communities began intermarrying in large numbers.
The engaging history features characters like St. Frances X. Cabrini, a nun who famously defied the Irish American archbishop of New York when he tried to send her back to Italy, and notorious gangster Al Capone, who got into a shootout with Brooklyn’s Irish mob while his Irish wife waited at home.
Paul Moses is a New York City journalist and professor at Brooklyn College/CUNY. His 2010 book “The Saint and the Sultan” won the Catholic Press Association Award for best history book. He lives in Brooklyn.