Sunday, August 06, 2006

Manzanar--and Johnny Rosselli

I just returned from a long California loop--east to Yosemite and Tioga Pass, then south to Lone Pine, Big Bear, and San Diego, then north to Los Angeles and up the Central Valley to the Bay Area. My daughters and I stopped in Manzanar and took in the historical site dedicated to the evacuation and internment of the Japanese during the Second World War. Carey McWilliams demolished all the arguments for the internment in Prejudice (1944), but he was serving in state government (as chief of the Division of Immigration and Housing) when the order was carried out.

In Los Angeles, I had dinner with Charles Rappleye, author of All American Mafioso: The Johnny Rosselli Story (Doubleday, 1991). In the late 1930s, McWilliams helped bring down Willie Bioff, the labor racketeer who, like Rosselli, represented the Chicago mob. Charles's new book is Sons of Providence (Simon & Schuster, 2006), which tells the story of the two brothers who founded Brown University. Charles and I dined at Union Station, where McWilliams was feted by KPFK toward the end of his career.


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