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Like many historians, much of my work has taken the form of monographs. Having pursued both a doctorate in history and a masters in demography at UC Berkeley, my dissertation focused on the population policy of Fascist Italy. I resisted the suggestion of a family friend to title the work “Make More Bambinos” and opted instead for Dictating Demography which came out with Cambridge in 1996 (and in Italian with Il Mulino in 1997). For my next project I started looking at similar topics in the Liberal Period (1860-1922) and was eventually drawn to a series of issues relating to children: child abandonment, child labor, juvenile delinquency, child migration etc. That research led to my second book: Italy in the Age of Pinocchio (Palgrave 2007). While still working on my Pinocchio, I was contacted by a law firm in Kansas City (Shook, Hardy and Bacon) and hired to do research on Italian awareness about the dangers and addictive nature of smoking in the post-WWII decades. They of course represented tobacco interests. I describe that experience in greater length in the introduction to my  Fumo: Italy’s Love Affair with the Cigarette (Stanford 2016); an Italian edition, also titled Fumo, came out with Le Monnier in 2019.


Olive oil

For the past few years, I have been researching and writing about the history of olive oil. I have published an article in Gastronomica on the current Xylella crisis in Puglia (see below) and won the 2021 Sophie Coe Prize in Food History writing for a forthcoming piece, "From Cloth Oil to Extra Virgin," that will appear in Dan Bender and Simone Cinotto, eds., Food Mobilities: Making World Cuisines. Toronto University Press. Toronto has been painfully slow about publishing, so I include the text below. I continue meanwhile to work on a monograph that will focus on the history of olive oil - production, consumption, trade, cultural role - from the eighteenth century to the present day

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“From Cloth Oil to Extra Virgin: Italian Olive Oil Before the Invention of the Mediterranean Diet” in Daniel Bender and Simone Cinotto, eds., Food Mobilities: Making World Cuisine. University of Toronto Press, forthcoming.

            *Winner of the 2021 Sophie Coe Prize in food history

"Xylella fastidiosa and the Olive Oil Crisi in Puglia," Gastronomica, vol. 20, n. 2, PP. 55–66 2020.




For over a century, Italy has had a love affair with the cigarette. Perhaps no consumer item better symbolizes the economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions of contemporary Italian history. Starting around 1900, the new and popular cigarette spread down the social hierarchy and eventually, during the 1960s, across the gender divide. For much of the century, cigarette consumption was an index of economic well-being and of modernism. Only at the end of the century did its meaning change as Italy achieved economic parity with other Western powers and entered into the antismoking era.

Drawing on film, literature, and the popular press, Carl Ipsen offers a view of the "cigarette century" in Italy, from the 1870s to the ban on public smoking in 2005. He traces important links between smoking and imperialism, world wars, Fascism, and the protest movements of the 1970s. In considering this grand survey of the cigarette, Fumo tells a much larger story about the socio-economic history of a society known for its casual attitude toward risk and a penchant for la dolce vita.

"A compelling picture of how one of the most widely consumed intoxicants of the twentieth century shaped Italian social life and cultural expression."

Mary Neuburger, University of Texas at Austin


"An intoxicating combination of cultural, social, economic, gender, and political history, Fumo tells the fascinating history of smoking in Italy, providing new insights into Italy's transformation over the course of the twentieth century. Delightfully told, it is, like the cigarette itself, hard to put down once begun."

David I. Kertzer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Pope and Mussolini


Reviews of publications

Larkin on Fumo

Bosworth on Fumo

Kertzer on Pinocchio

Jensen on Pinocchio

Bosworth on Dictating Demography

Nobile on Dictating Demography

Starting as a grad student I translated a number of works from Italian into English. Although on one level I do enjoy translation I’m not currently undertaking any more such projects. Still, here is what I have done in the past.

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