Telluride's Between the Covers: Cicero to sign "Relative Strangers"

Telluride's Between the Covers: Cicero to sign "Relative Strangers"

[click “Play”, Susan talks with Frank Cicero about Relative Strangers]


RelativeStrangers It was a slam dunk whenever part-time Telluride local Frank Cicero stood in front of a courtroom. A senior partner since the 1970s at the prestigious Chicago law firm of Kirkland & Ellis and a trial and an appellate lawyer, Cicero’s list of wins in a wide variety of civil and criminal cases in courts at all levels all over the world is mighty impressive.

The reason for his history of legal triumphs becomes apparent when you read Cicero’s very first book, Relative Strangers: Italian Protestants in the Catholic World (2011). The guy clearly does his homework and he knows how to spin a compelling yarn.

Frank Cicero is in town for a book signing of “Relative Strangers” at Telluride’s Between the Covers. The very social,very casual book launch party takes place Saturday, August 6, 6:30 p.m. (Simple refreshments included.) On the bill with Frank is Mt. Evans, Colorado-based photographer Bill Hitz, breaking out his coffee table photography book showcasing the Four Corners, Roads Less Traveled. Its forward was written by General Schwarzkopf, who said “You’re photos are like a spirit… They speak to me.” (

And yes, Frank Cicero did grow up Italian and Protestant, an apparent oxymoron but nonetheless true. Reading his memoir was a bit like time traveling. Discover the Waldensians, a Protestant reform sect that began in 12th-century Lyons, France, and surfaced in Cicero’s maternal bloodlines, the northern Italian Balmas. Experience the trials of mountain life in the Italian Piedmont and the unfolding of bloody religious wars. Walk around Buffalo and Chicago as baby cities that grew like Topsy into bustling metropolises, where the Ciceros and the Balmas made their opening bids for the American Dream. In fact, in many ways “Relative Strangers” is a blueprint of the American Dream and a insider’s view of immigrants who helped make our country great. (And are now turning in their graves. But I digress.)

Through Cicero’s in-depth descriptions, his relatives became familiars, the kind of people I would like to have gotten to know over a bottle of vino. Or two. Especially the Sicilian Catholics on his dad’s side.

Friend and fellow lawyer/celebrated author Scott Turow (“Burden of Proof,” “Presumed Innocent”) loved “Relative Strangers,” weighing in with: “This fine book is part personal memoir, part history of religion and always compelling reading. It illustrates yet again the diversity of the human family and the unpredictable paths taken by the quest for faith…”

Not bad for a first-time author.

Curious to know more? Click the “play” button and listen to Frank Cicero’s podcast.

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