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xi Sociopaths are a hot topic in American popular culture, as any observer of the 2016 American presidential election will have noted. Almost 1 percent of all Internet references to Donald Trump included discussions of sociopathic or psychopathic behaviors or worried more directly the candidate might himself qualify as sociopath or psychopath. Nor did candidate Hillary Clinton receive a pass from armchair psychologists, at least on the Internet. Half of a percent of all references to Clinton also include discussions of sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies and labels. Even professional psychologists disagreed among themselves over the appropriateness of such discussions, and most preferred to reject armchair analyses of persons they had not interacted with in a professional relationship. As a historian, I knew the 2016 fascination with sociopaths and sociopathic behavior was nothing new. On the contrary, it has been around for quite some time. In 2013 alone, both the Huffington Post (“11 Signs You May be Dating a Sociopath,” August 23) and Psychology Today (“How to Spot a Sociopath,” May 7) fed a popular fascination with “difficult” or “toxic” people. Readers who turn to Amazon.com can pursue their curiosity further by ordering Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Introduction to the English-Language Edition: “Was Moreno a Sociopath?” Donna R. Gabaccia xii Donna R. Gabaccia Sight, The Psychopath Test, or the somewhat older book The Sociopath Next Door. They can also order books promising a path to recovery from “Emotionally Abusive Relationships with Narcissists, Sociopaths, & Other Toxic People.” Many people have at some point in their lives personally known a person who seemed toxic and that common experience may explain the popularity of books and journalism offering readers help in understanding, explaining, or resisting the amoral, self-centered, or deceitful behavior of individuals who are labeled—often interchangeably—as sociopaths or psychopaths. If sociopaths and psychopaths were merely toxic, however, no one would be fascinated by them, and I would probably not be writing this introduction in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the American presidency. Sociopaths are not just toxic; they are also often deeply attractive and charismatic. In Oh Capitano! Rudi Vecoli and Francesco Durante introduce readers to just one of Italy’s 26 million migrants. The migrant, Celso Cesare Moreno, was a man who was simultaneously toxic, deceitful, and charming in equal measure. As a pioneering social historian, Rudi Vecoli focused most of his research and almost all his work as longtime director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota on documenting and understanding the lives of people quite unlike Moreno. He focused not on unique individuals but on the inarticulate mass of ordinary laborers who left Italy in search of work. It was the everyday lives, the political passions of Italy’s workers, subversives, anarchists, and close-knit communities that long held Vecoli’s attentions. In his late life, as he moved into retirement, by contrast, Rudi acknowledged and became fascinated with a very different type of migrant—a colorful individual whom he clearly found to be an inexplicable yet deeply attractive research subject. Celso Cesare Moreno was a wild and highly idiosyncratic man. He wandered, adventured, cheated, exaggerated, promoted (mainly himself ), and—perhaps this is the most important point— never ceased moving or stopped composing newly invented lies about his past lives as he traveled the world. Migrants can, and often do, invent and modify their own pasts. But in the book manuscript (which he had not succeeded in finishing prior to his death in 2008), Rudi wanted to tell a different story. In Oh Capitano! he sought to create a gripping yarn that could capture both the uniqueness of Moreno and the highly distinctive personality that simultaneously repelled, attracted, and fascinated the people he met as he traveled. Rudi’s coauthor, Francesco Durante, respected and to some degree shared the attraction Introduction to the English-Language Edition xiii Rudi felt toward Moreno and his story. This book is a result of their collaboration , much of it unfolding after Rudi’s death. By considering Moreno’s appeal to the authors and, I suspect, to readers , too, I want to suggest that personality itself can—and should—be historicized. Was there, for example, anything at all that was distinctively Italian about Moreno’s peculiarities, his deceitfulness, or his charm? Or did the era of globalization in which Moreno lived—a time of rapidly expanding empires, trade, and mobility—simply create disproportionately large opportunities for...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780823279890
Related ISBN
9780823279869
MARC Record
OCLC
1038009437
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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