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When Danilo Docli, peace worker, organizer, educator, first arrived in 1952 in Trappeto, a village of peasants and fishermen in western Sicily, there were no streets, just mud and dust, not a single drugstore, not even a sewer. (In fact, the local dialect didn’t even have a word for sewer.) Like other Sicilians, the villagers, seen by many Italians as “bandits,” “dirt-eaters,” and “savages,” had, in effect, been mute for centuries.
Dolci’s years of work broke this silence. The result is Sicilian Lives, a book which reveals the intimate experiences and perceptions of a wide range of Sicilians, rural and urban, through voices that are sometimes frightening, but always fascinating and unexpected.
Danilo Dolci has collected a rich panorama of voices—the eloquent testimony of Sicilians who, at last, are speaking out to penetrate the most profound dilemmas of an impoverished land.
“Mr. Dolci also listens, which is why he is called the Oscar Lewis and Studs Terkel of Sicily. For 30 years, he has written down what he hears and read it back to the teller. A story—a connection—is made; lives are rescued from silence. . . . Only the grave robbers know anything of Sicily's ancient history; only Mr. Dolci seems unbroken, nonviolent, among the children, listening, an architect of muscle and tongue. We ought to be grateful.”—The New York Times
“Danilo Dolci is a wonderful man, one of those who, in purity of spirit, has cast his lot with the insulted and the injured. He is utterly free of rancor or righteousness; he is better than a saint—he is a good human being. And it all comes out in his writing.”—Irving Howe
“Danilo Dolci, in living a Sicilian life, offers us, in wisdom and innocence, the hearts, minds, and dreams of his neighbors. With their own words he has painted an indelible portrait of a society.”—Studs Terkel
“Danilo Dolci is not only the world’s foremost advocate of nonviolent revolution, but also a poet and a sensitive interviewer. He is often called Sicily’s Gandhi, but he has also been Sicily’s Stud Terkel and Oscar Lewis. . . . Beautifully written, Sicilian Lives is a course in the sociology, anthropology, economics, and politics of Sicily, and a moving portrait of its people.”—Herbert Gans