Reviews

Life:  Its Problems and Some of its Unanswerable Questions
By Dr. Nicholas LaBianca
Xlibris, $29.99, 105 pages

Image your perfect life … a world filled with peace, harmony, everyone living out their own dreams.  Life – Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions, written by Dr. Nicholas LaBianca, is a refreshingly thought-provoking look at our national and humanity from a bird’s-eye point of view without judgment or classification.  Dr. LaBianca takes the readers on a journey of self-reflection into what is important in life and what is not.  Each chapter addresses different topics, such as who we are, why we are here, our government, our educational system, religions of all denominations then, scoops it all up with possible solutions, never wavering in his own belief that it is achievable for us to get along and accommodate and embrace our differences.  It lacks the fundamental step-by-steps that would need to be taken for the improvements in society that the author recommends, but the facts are irrefutable and the intent in favor of a need for a better life is undeniable.

At first glance, it seems the title is negligent in its magnanimous effort to portray the book’s actual contents, but in fact, Life – It’s Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions is precisely what the book is about – sincerely so.  Life’s problems are accurately identified, discussed laid out in an almost global-view, then the author cleverly, yet with a quiet softness, invites the truth, giving hope a clean perspective into the reader’s own insight as to what the problems really are and what we, both individually and as a people, can do to potentially fix them. 

At times, it presents itself sugar-coated and a bit unrealistic in today’s state of economy, but this narrative allows essential contemplation and evaluation of change in the hearts and minds of us all.  Pictures included in every chapter are apropos to the subject matter, but the graphics are low-grade quality, making difficult to truly utilize the impact they could inspire.  This book is endearing and leaves the reader feeling inspired. 

Life: Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions
Review by John Monahan, M.A.
Technical Writer

In this short but comprehensive work, Dr. Nicholas La Bianca poses some very thought-provoking questions regarding human life. These queries are addressed primarily to individuals of various ages now living in the United States of America. Dr. La Bianca displays empathy for those who seem to be entangled in the inescapable web of bureaucracy and inequity. The author's profound knowledge of history, philosophy, and the humanities reinforces his empirical statements and keen observations of life and its seemingly endless problems.

The first third of the book deals with the creation of the universe, the role of God and religion, and the purpose of man on Earth. The remaining major topics include ethnicity, politics, justice, and education. Each subject is discussed from both a general and personal perspective. Major problems familiar to many of us are brought to light and possible solutions to each are offered. Some ideas may be considered too conservative, others too liberal. Moreover, a few suggestions to resolve certain issues are radical enough to precipitate strong disagreement and even anger amongst some segments of the population. However, one must read this work with an open mind and realize that the intention of the author and the purpose of each recommendation is to improve man's overall condition in society. Life—Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions is a work to be read not only for mental stimulation, but also for sheer enjoyment.

 

Life: Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions
Review by Gennaro J. Pisano, M.D.

It is a short but fascinating book by Dr. Nicholas La Bianca, a life long educator. It is a fact-filled, concise history of the world in all of its throught provoking queries from creation to modern times. He goes back to the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus who stated that the origin of all things was water. As for the questions: "Who are we?" & "How did we get here?" the answers have to be decided by the individual reader according to his or her religious beliefs.

Although a short book, to give a critique of all its contents would be a task fit for King Sisyphus, therefore I have decided to address some of its areas that interest me the most. Dr. La Bianca touches upon many of our recent day problems, e.g. abortion, potential abuse of legislative, executive, and judicial powers, poor method of selecting candidates for political office, and all the corruption in government both on national and international levels. Also great emphasis is given to the improvement of our educational system both of the financial and pedagogical level in order to give everybody a good chance for a better education.

I would highly recommend this most thought provoking and informative book to educators, care givers, politicians, and all persons concerned in making this world a better and safer place for all mankind.

 

Life: Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions
Review by Marta Bivona

This book is, to me, a perfect example of "great things come in small packages." It is so concentrated with deep insight, knowledge, well researched facts, enthralling and rich in details.

It covers every aspect of our daily lives with such wisdom, discernment, and intellect. I tried to pick on one chapter as my favorite but was unable to do so. The author not only relied on facts so thoroughly researched but also dealt with them applying great common sense and sensibility, focusing on values, traditions, and consciousness.

He dug deeply into history, our beginnings, evolution, progress, regression, and its influence in our world today.

 

Life: Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions
Review by Fred Gardaphe
Distinguished Professor of Queens College

In this time when anyone can publish a book, the reason we don't see more is because while many feel they have a book in them, few take the time and devote their energies to writing. Not so for retired high school teacher Dr. Nicholas La Bianca. While he's had life experiences to fill volumes (from living under Fascism, immigrating from Italy to the US, to serving in the US Air Force and teaching in public schools and for the US State Department), he chose nothing short of "Life" as the subject and title for his first book.

I'd be the first to tell you that Dr. La Bianca and I don't agree on much of what he sees as the way things should be. He has the tendency to lean so far to the right that he rests on some of the conservative thinking that caused the very problems he's trying to solve. To his credit, he does open up the possibilites of other angles by which to view, but he spends less time in these areas. So while I don't subscribe to his answers, I do appreciate the energy and thought he applies to his arguments.

This is a little book about big things. La Bianca covers some of the major questions we all might face at sometime as we go through our lives. "Who are we? Why are we here? Where do we come from?" are all some of the ones he starts with. From there he moves to "Who is God? How did we get there?" and more. These are questions that all educated people face at some point, but few of us have the inclinatin, time or reswources to spend much time in thought. He covers religion, humanity, nationality, government, politics, the justice system, and education.

In each area he attempts to sketch out the major issues at play, and does so in a rather hurried and sometimes hectic way. This is a lot to digest, and while most of us have thought about all these ideas from time to time, few have attempted to sit down and write out our own thinking in such a way. From overviews of these questions he moves on to attempt some solutions and ends with something called a Reality Check, a way of coming back to the basics and winding down his intellectual journey.

La Bianca puts his extensive education to work in recalling the history of philosophical thought, religious practice, and behavioral theory. There's something for everyone in this wild and sometimes unwieldy train of thinking that tends toward the conservative, but at times takes twists and turns into the land of liberal and even radical thought. His covservatism comes through mostly when he speaks of religion, family, and social behavior. Where he gets liberal is in his approach to education. Here, his writing is clearest and seems to make the most sense, and that is no doubt due to his more than thirty years as a professional educator.

Whether or not you agree with his thinking, you might just find yourself saying, "Hey, this is a down to earth book by a guy just like me." He's not some fancy best-selling author; he's just a regular guy who has produced a book filled with all the fancies and flaws that we all have in some degree. Once you've read La Bianca's "Life," you just might find yourself inspired to write your own book in response, and that just might help fulfill the book's guarantee "to make you a better person after reading it."

 

Life: Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions
Review by Mario Di Sciullo, PhD
The Glen Gazette — September 2009

Dr. La Bianca reveals many of the problems associated with nationality, government and politics, justice, and education in the United States. He discusses the variety of religions throughout the world and how the natives of differing geological locations develop their own concept of who God is. In addition, he tells us that solutions to specific problems lie in the context of the citizens of those countries.

The author offers the reader many partial solutions and opinions to the problems he unveils. Those solutions depend, a great deal, on the educational level of the population, the wealth of the locale, the willingness of the people to accept the decisions of their government, and the quid pro quo of those decisions. His view of "what is" and "what it could be" allows the reader the forum to interact with his/her own views regarding some of the unanswerable questions.

 

Life: Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions
Review by Dr. Tony Arabia
Com UNICO — September 2009

LIFE Magazine, years ago, was one of those large, weekly pictorial publications that opened minds with dramatic images. We grew up with it. And in the photographs of wartimes, assassinations, moon landings, medical advancements and celebrity features, we learned how America and the world was changing.

A book review of "Life: Its Problems" cannot do justice to the many issues and themes that Dr. La Bianca presents to us. Its range and depth are quite extensive. It has been said that the book may be small, but it covers many large matters.

He carefully explores questions such as, "Who are we? Why are we here?" Essentially text with some pictures, the book gives us a compact view of contemporary life and serves it to us with the author's worldwide point of view. The content is an historical, philosophical, educational journey that at times is moderate, conservative and liberal. On topics such as war and peace, pro-life and pro-choice, God and religion, our government and its leadership, education, technology, medicine, and our place in world history, the author states his views.

Realizing that many extremely difficult issues exist, the author very ably confronts them, giving his best assessment of possible solutions. To some people, his ideas may be too simple and to others, his views may be too complex, but he writes with conviction, hope, and great devotion to humanity and America and its promise to achieve real progress and happiness.

Look for it and read it. "Life" will surely broaden your perspectives!

 

Life: Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions

"Growing Up Under Fascism in a Little Town in Southern Italy" is one man's story that belongs to many. Nicholas La Bianca, a retired teacher of Italian, takes us back to a time when life was simple and full of ups and downs that combined to make him the successful man he became. Vivid details of daily life, season celebrations, and life during World War II bring this memoir to life and make it relevant. Illustrated with personal and historical photos, this book is a lesson in life worthy for all to learn.

Life: Its Problems and Some of Its Unanswerable Questions
Review by Xlibris

Life is sheltered with numerous questions. Some have simple answers, but some of these questions require comprehensive study to find the answers. There are also questions that would measure our faith in God, and or lead us to become skeptic. Life is indeed a question itself. Author Nicholas La Bianca presents to us a distinctively woven piece of intellectual work that would help us raise the many unanswerable questions of life in his book.

The majority fret more about their daily needs like food, medicine, shelter, and some immediate and basic needs to survive. Some would consider these needs the reason why they are living overlooking the real purpose of their existence. "Life" will acquaint us to some important facts and realities of life. We ask so many unanswerable questions everyday, and we are looking for those who can give us clarifications and perhaps concrete answers to erase the confusion in our mind. Religion has its own way of giving answers to these questions, but the fact that there are many religions all over the world, answers definitely vary. So man's instinct tells him to find out in a most cogent way the correct answers to the questions hovering in his mind. In this book, you will be assisted to discover these questions and find the solutions for the benefit of all.

Who are we? What is the purpose of our existence? Who is God? Where is He? More of these questions will be formulated as you go flipping on the pages of this book.

 

Growing Up under Fascism in Giovinazzo,
A Little Town in Southern Italy

Review by John Monahan, M.A.
Technical Writer

Dr. La Bianca writes a very detailed and vivid description of his life in a small Italian town immediately before, during, and after World War II. His experiences as a young boy and teenager are portrayed in such a way, that the reader can easily imagine being with him as he enjoys the simplicities of life and, at the same time, suffers extraordinary hardships and privations due to his country's participation in the war.

The author's hometown is depicted as an isolated entity where everyone knows each other and is expected to follow certain rigid customs, and to adhere to established coventions of courtesy. Some readers who have never had the opportunity to experience life as Dr. La Bianca did, may consider life in his community as backward and feudalistic. Others may view it as a pleasant and uncomplicated way of existence devoid of those worries associated with a society steeped in technology.

It is interesting to note how the Fascist political machine of "Il Duce" penetrated Italian society with its propaganda, constantly reminding the people that they were unique, superior, and invincible. However, as Dr. La Bianca clearly points out, reality proved otherwise. Unique, perhaps; superior and invincible, a definite no.

The precious and rare photographs which accompany each chapter contribute to the verbal description. The reader will marvel at the images of people and events that have been long gone.

Growing Up under Fascism in Giovinazzo, a Little Town in Southern Italy is a work to be read for pleasure and for enhancing one's knowledge of another culture. So, sit back, relax, and learn about a young boy's memories and aspirations at a time and place so remote and so unfamiliar to the majority of us.

An Immigrant's Long and Difficult Way To Become American
Review by John Monahan, M.A.

Technical Writer

Details the experience and hardships endured by the author, Dr. Nicholas LaBianca, who left his small Italian town in the 1950’s to settle in America, which he and his townspeople perceived as the land of opportunity and unlimited wealth.  After crossing the rough and treacherous seas of the North Atlantic, he disembarked in New York City with no job, no money, and only a very limited knowledge of English.  For the first few years, he held several menial jobs and resided in small dingy apartments.  His social life was restricted due, in a large part, to language problems and a lack of familiarity with American customs.  Dr. LaBianca, as he sacrificed, struggled, and suffered for years to keep his head above water, never let his family and friends in Italy know just how desperate and disappointed he had become.  However, regardless of all his shortcomings and misfortunes, he slowly and gradually overcame most obstacles.

After a stint in the US Air Force, Dr. LaBianca took advantage of the GI Bill and attended college at the University of Illinois and later at the City College of New York where he received his master degree.  In the meantime, he was employed by an Italian company with an office in Manhattan.  He worked diligently and faithfully for years without receiving adequate compensation.  He realized that he was going nowhere with this company and began contemplating a career in the field of education.  He acquired a teaching certification and was able to teach in Queens, in Naples, Italy at the NATO High School, and later at Stony Brook, Long Island.

Due to his persistence and effort for self-improvement, Dr. LaBianca finally began living “The American Dream”.  He is now a retired educator with a doctor’s degree living in an upscale town of Long Island, New York.

 

Growing Up Under Fascism in a Little Town in Southern Italy
Review by Nella Farinola

Born when Fascism was very well established, author Dr. Nicholas La Bianca superbly pens down a recollection of the early years of his rich and colorful life in his unforgettable stirring memoir.

Tender and poignant, Growing Up Under Fascism in a Little Town in Southern Italy shows how people coped up with same difficult dilemmas of making a living, striving to improve their living conditions, and secure a better future for their children.

This book is also a clear representation of real life battles and of family goals -- once founded wiht precision and strength, political regime and economic conditions that control the daily life could not obstruct in achieving success.

Through Growing Up Under Fascism in a Little Town in Southern Italy, readers will have a glimpse at the author's memorable life during the fascist regime and will learn more truths on human existence.

Growing Up Under Fascism in a Little Town in Southern Italy
Review by Fred Gardaphe
Distinguished Professor of English and Italian-American studies
Prolific author and Associate Editor of FraNol

Born in Giovinazzo, Italy, a little town near Bari, La Bianca immigrated to the United States after World War II and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He went on to become a teacher in New York and Long Island schools, and after his retirement, he dedicated his time to writing books.

"Growing up under Fascism" should become required reading for anyone studying history of Italy and its mass immigration. Through it, we gain details of daily life and seasonal celebrations during World War II that make his memoir alive and relevant. La Bianca opens with a historical and geographical study of his hometown and its relationship to the actions that took place during German occupation and the Allied invasion. His early life was difficult, but his message is both instructional and inspirational: that the family can take care of itself, that families together can take care of their communities, that you have to work to eat, and that education can lead to a better life no matter what onstacles a government places in your path. Feste, courting, marriages, baptism and funeral are all presented in clear recollections that enable to relieve the good times and the bad.

Throughout the book, La Bianca has inserted personal and historical photos, along with the images from posters and postcards that provide a visual sense of what was important to the people who shared his experiences. Together with his narrative, this book transcends one man's personal story to create the type of understanding that comes from expert anthropology combined with aspects of sociology and history. For many years after the war, fascism was a firty word in Italian and very few people would talk, let alone write, about their experiences during this troubled era of Italian culture. With this book, La Bianca joins the ranks of true historians and great memoir writers

Giovinazzo honored Dr. La Bianca with a presentation of his book in Italian translation. Bravely facing the realities of its past, the town formed a panel of distinguished scholars and citizens to discuss the book and honor the man who put his and their history into print. A reviewer called the book "a little masterpiece that merits much attention beyond the people who lived in this town". This homecoming marks a turning point in the history of the town and the life of its brave citizens whose story, though common to many, has come to represent the importance of writing personal histories.