The book is a large 8 ½” x 11” paperback volume with lean production values. The text is double spaced as one would expect in a term paper, but this format makes reading a breeze. It is also illustrated with rare photos – and some not so rare – which add interest to the narrative.
The book sadly lacks an index and footnotes - in spite of its rich bibliography, the former omission hardly explainable in the days of electronic word processors. The text is speckled with grammatical, lexical, and typographical errors which should be cleansed in a second edition.
Returning to our point of narrative style, the author has chosen to use dramatizations to vivify the story, a technique which may make it appealing to a popular audience, but one which will not endear it to establishment historians and academics. All of which is unfortunate because the substance of this scholarly triumph makes it worth every penny this out of print book may cost.
Aside from some of these rather pedantic remarks, we must admit that the author is a very capable writer who has selected a fluent style which makes the book a rapid read. She alternates between history of Valentino’s life, and the very complicated aftermath left in the wake of his death – complications which extend to the present time.
Valentino is probably an easy character for many people to like if for no other reason than he was rich, famous, and good looking. On the other hand, once you look past the glitz, you see a highly flawed man whose life swung out of control and flamed out at a very young age.
Although lacking absolute proof, Zumaya speculates, with reasonable evidence which she presents in her book, that Valentino had a fling with an older Italian woman resulting in a pregnancy which embarrassed the family. The solution was to send young Rudolph into the cold to America where a padrino, Frank Menillo, awaited to sponsor him in his new country – in the vortex of America’s melting pot – New York City. Frank would come many times to Rudy’s aid to pry him loose from some sticky predicament – often of a financial nature.
The child would be given to his brother Alberto for rearing, a responsibility we believe he resented.
Affairs Valentino, Evelyn Zumaya, 2011
Copyright 2012 Tony Bonn. All rights reserved.