In his latest book, Historian Alexander Rassogianis reveals what sparked the entrepreneurial spirit of Greek immigrants in Chicago.
If you’ve ever wondered what the early Greek immigrants did when they came to Chicago, you’re about to find out, in Alexander Rassogianis’ book, The Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Greek Immigrant in Chicago, Illinois: 1900-1930.
Born and raised in Chicago, Alexander Rassogianis is the son of immigrants from Sparta. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science from Elmhurst College, he studied international relations at the University of Helsinki. Later, he earned a Master’s Degree in History at University of Wisconsin.
Writing is Alex’s third career. He taught history for more than 15 years in Chicago. He also served as a labor investigator for the U.S. government for 20 years. He officially retired, and began to write full time in 2011.
His first book, Return to Glenlord: Memories of Michigan Summers was published in 2013.
“It’s a memoir of spending summers with my family and friends in southwestern Michigan in the 1950’s and 60’s. It was a vibrant community of Chicago Greeks who spent their summers in Stevensville, Michigan. It’s filled with wonderful characters and humorous events from that period.”
In The Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Greek Immigrant in Chicago, Illinois: 1900-1932, Alex examines the arrival and first jobs of Greek immigrants at the turn of the century. The book details early employment of immigrants and the cultivation of their entrepreneurial spirit. The book took 19 months to complete, full time.
They say “write what you know”. Alex looked to his family for inspiration.
“I chose to write about Greek immigrant business owners primarily because of my own family background. My grandfather, father, and two uncles operated a candy/ice cream business on 26th Street and St. Louis Avenue on Chicago’s South Side as early as 1910, before moving the business to Berwyn in the early 1930’s.”
Greek immigrants in the U.S. have been very successful entrepreneurs, despite, for many, no formal education or training.
“The one thing that I would like readers to gain by reading this book is that by hard work and perseverance anything is possible. The immigrants worked as much as eighteen hours a day to achieve success and dignity for their lives and for their families. The remarkable thing is that they achieved this in a strange and foreign land where they also had to struggle with language barriers. I begin the book with a quotation from the French writer, Victor Hugo. ‘Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.’ How right he was.”
The Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Greek Immigrant in Chicago, Illinois: 1900-1930 is a fascinating glimpse of early Greek immigrants in Chicago. We learn what sparked their legendary entrepreneurial spirit, laying the groundwork for successive generations. We see how “strangers in a strange land” — most often with no English skills, and little education — worked hard, and persevered. They created a better life for their families, and paved the way for today’s Greeks to be among the most educated of ethnic groups in the U.S. — and highly successful.
Even if you’re not from Chicago, or not Greek, this is a fascinating look at how the American Dream came to be. I’m told that my maternal grandfather, who came to the U.S. in 1906 and also became an entrepreneur, always said that Chicago was the proving ground; Greeks came here because they knew there was opportunity, but also because “if they could make it in Chicago, they could make it anywhere”. Find out what sparked their entrepreneurial spirit. At just under 100 pages — including an extensive list of sources, it’s a quick read. This is our history. Add this to your reading list.
Coming this summer is a novel, called Rainbow Over Portland. A man from Chicago meets a woman from Ireland on a train and they fall in love. After she returns to Ireland, they stay in touch. Every time they try to meet, something goes wrong; she’s always just out of his reach. He sets out on a quest to find her, and finds more than he bargained for.
“The story evolves into deception, betrayal, murder, and the Irish Republican Army.”
By: Alexander Rassogianis
Publisher: iUniverse (September 9, 2015)
Other books by Alexander Rassogianis: