PULLING GOD’S TEETH (1882-1886)
Twenty-four-year-old Carlo Como goes out fishing one dawn on the wide river near his northern Italian village of Castrubello. The Pirino has provided a living for the Como family for generations, but this morning Carlo hauls in a very different catch: three large white rocks known as “God’s Teeth.” The valuable stones, coveted by local ceramic-makers, will allow him to marry his love, Tonia Vacci, a worker in the town’s dismal silk mill.
But the fisherman’s good fortune is resented by estate manager Baldassare Gaetano, greedy both for Tonia and the profit from the stones. Carlo’s discovery unleashes a chain of love and jealousy, courage and betrayal, violence and perseverance that will define the Como and Vacci families for decades to come.
Tonia’s brother, Ettore, is determined to advance through life on his own merits and bids farewell to Castrubello. With a hot-headed partner, he forms a construction company and heads south to carve The King’s Road through the mountains of Campania. Ettore soon finds himself fighting an impossible deadline and a band of cut-throat brigands led by the murderous “Corsicano”, who swears to halt the brazen intruder threatening his mountain lair.
PULLING GOD’S TEETH is the first volume of The Last Italian, A Saga in Three Parts, a gripping tale that begins in 1882 Italy and spans more than six decades of social and political tumult. Three generations of the Como and Vacci families face rapacious landowners, deadly epidemics, harrowing warfare, perilous immigration, and Fascist brutality during the Kingdom of Italy’s final sixty-three turbulent years. Throughout, as the characters balance their commitments to love, loyalty, and honor against the harsh demands of physical survival, inscrutable Fate forever stands ready to randomly intervene.
The other books of the trilogy include:
BOOK TWO: FATE’S RESTLESS FEET (1911-1913)
Brothers Gianni and Renzo Como land with an elite Bersagliere regiment in Tripoli, Libya, as the Kingdom of Italy declares war on the Ottoman Empire. What was expected to be a quick, glorious conquest devolves into primal combat as Italian forces are assaulted from all sides. Renzo risks everything to live up to his duty to protect his brother during a treacherous battle fraught with confusion, courage, and unspeakable cruelty.
Despite dire warnings, Angelina Scrivatti undertakes the perilous journey from Castrubello to America to claim a promise of marriage. She eventually arrives at a Michigan mining town to discover the man she loves struggling with guilt and despair. They soon become swept up in a storm of ethnic conflict that leads to a night of grievous tragedy — and a final chance for personal redemption.
BOOK THREE: DEATH TO THE WOLF (1942-1945)
Ettore Vacci celebrates his 80th birthday even as Italy embraces its disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany. Serving with the Italian 8th Army near Stalingrad, Donato Como’s unit faces a massive Soviet offensive and killing winter temperatures in a battle for survival on Russia’s frozen steppes. When the Axis lines break, Donato leads his men in a desperate trek across a desolate wasteland, hounded by the enemy and oppressed by retreating Germans contemptuous of their Italian allies. As Donato confronts the realities of unforgiving warfare, his allegiance to the home of his forefathers deepens as never before.
In Castrubello, Regina Vacci, Donato’s beloved, courageously defies the Fascists’ merciless persecution of Jews. Meanwhile, Ettore Vacci is shocked to witness his nephew Pietro Como rise to political power within Benito Mussolini’s iron regime. With family loyalties divided, like Italia itself, Ettore Vacci finds he must act — for justice, for his village, for family honor.