An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians

AN UNLIKELY UNION                            PAUL MOSES

They came from the poorest parts of Ireland and Italy and met as rivals on the sidewalks of New York. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the Irish and Italians clashed in the Catholic Church, on the waterfront, at construction sites, and in the streets. Then they made peace through romance, marrying each other on a large scale in the years after World War II.

The vibrant cast of characters features saints such as Mother Frances X. Cabrini, who stood up to the Irish American archbishop of New York when he tried to send her back to Italy, and sinners like Al Capone, who left his Irish wife home the night he shot it out with Brooklyn's Irish mob. The book also highlights the torrid love affair between radical labor organizers Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Carlo Tresca; the alliance between Italian American gangster Paul Kelly and Tammany's "Big Tim" Sullivan; heroic detective Joseph Petrosino's struggle to be accepted in the Irish-run NYPD; and the competition between Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to become the country's top male vocalist.

In this engaging history of the Irish and Italians, veteran New York City journalist and professor Paul Moses offers a classic American story of competition, cooperation, and resilience. At a time of renewed fear of immigrants, An Unlikely Union reminds us that Americans are able to absorb tremendous social change and conflict--and come out the better for it.


A very good book about two of the ethnic groups who at one time made up a large portion of the jobs in New York City that no one else wanted to do. The author first takes you to the time when the Irish migrated to the city and the problems they had and then how they would become firemen, police officers and even send troops to the civil war. When the Italians started to migrate of course the Irish did not like it for they felt it would be taking jobs, so of course fights broke out. He also shows you that the Catholic Church began to have a problem as well since most of them were Irish and with Irish Priests that Rome with the help of an Irish Priest set up a congregation for Italians and in their neighborhood when a church was finally built by local donations. As there were fights with jobs, church, even government the author shows you times when they began to work together against forces working at keeping them down. Eventually, even the two started marrying and blending families back then at first was just Italian and Irish or Irish and Italian, what a combination. A very good book with a lot of history of both cultures and of New York. I received this book from I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at 

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