“The Black Hand”- Stephan Talty



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It’s very rare that I willingly pick up a non-fiction book. From the very start of The Black Hand I was sucked in to an unknown world of the Italian mafia, filled with “threatening notes adorned with drawings of coffins and crosses and daggers.”  It is described as “a record of crime here during the last 10 years that is unparalleled in the history of a civilized country in a time of peace.” Only the KKK would surpass The Black Hand society  for production of mass terror.

Based on those statistics alone, one can assume it was “a big deal”. And yet it’s as if history glances over this period of violence. As I was reading I became angry; instead of memorizing President’s names in high school, why weren’t we being taught this? I know some people may disagree with me, and that’s okay! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I feel the more informed we are from a young age, the better chance we have of history NOT repeating itself.

It is clear in Talty’s book that we are repeating mistakes we’ve made from hidden history. The intolerance American citizens had for Italian immigrants in the early 1900s is astounding, and is a reminder of a certain intolerance we have today.

One of the biggest quotes that rocked me to my core was this:

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What I think is … humorous? ironic? sad? … is that each decade of history you could remove Italian and place a new race in there. My biggest question is, when is intolerance going to stop? Sadly, I do not see it happening any time soon. The Black Hand was truly an eye-opening read. Stephan Talty aptly delivers forgotten history in an engaging way. There’s no napping during these history lessons.

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The Black Hand by Stephan Talty is available now! I was chosen by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to receive a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Given that fact, it has not altered my opinion on the book at all.

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