Alessandro Portelli

Alessandro Portelli has taught American literature at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and in the United States and is best known for his work in oral history. Among his books are They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History and The Order Has Been Carried Out: History, Memory, and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome. He is also the author of a book in Italian, Badlands, Springsteen e l'America: il lavoro e i sogni

Recent Articles

Class Act

Where Bruce comes from, and how he got here. 

AP Photo/Lennox McLendon
“Words flowed like a storm surge, crashing into one another with no regret.” That’s Bruce Springsteen in his new memoir, writing about his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. , but he might as well be writing about the memoir itself. Springsteen the musician has also been an artist of the word, and this book confirms his artistry in that second medium. Few literary genres can be as inane as stars’ autobiographies, and while Born to Run has enough concert anecdotes to satisfy the curiosity of any fan, it is a sustained, satisfying, and thoroughly readable self-portrait. Like other autobiographies that put the protagonist in a wider context, Springsteen’s book is also the history of a time and a place, beginning with his hometown, Freehold, New Jersey, and the houses of families like his own—places where, he writes, “people make lives, suffer pain, enjoy small pleasures … and do their best to hold off the demons that seek to...