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Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (Oxford Paperbacks) [Paperback]

by Kerby A. Miller
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 21, 1988 0195051874 978-0195051872 Reprint
Rich in human detail, penetrating in analysis, this book is social history on an epic scale. The first "transatlantic" history of the Irish, Emigrants and Exiles offers the fullest account yet of the diverse waves of Irish emigration to North America.

Drawing on enormous original research, Miller focuses on the thought and behavior of the "ordinary" Irish emigrants, as revealed in their personal letters, diaries, journals, and memoirs as well as in their songs, poems and folklore. Miller shows that the exile mentality was deeply rooted in Irish history, culture and personality, and it profoundly affected both the traumatic course of modern Irish history and the Irish experience in America.

Frequently Bought Together

Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (Oxford Paperbacks) + The Irish Americans: A History + Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850
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Editorial Reviews


"In Emigrants and Exiles, the Irish and Irish-Americans have found a work equal to their history--alive with fact, vivid in detail, exposing and assessing the virtues and vices of being Irish."--Terrence Fitzmorris, Tulane University

"A well-written and extensively researched study....This ambitious work definitely promises to become a basic title for Irish studies."--Ethnic Forum

"Without question Emigrants and Exiles will become a classic in emigration studies and because exile/emigration is so crucial to understanding Ireland it will be a significant text for any study of Irish history."--Journal of American Studies

"This is a book that should be read by anyone with even a passing interest in eighteenth-century Ireland or America."--Eoin Magennis, Eighteenth-Century Ireland

About the Author

Kerby A. Miller is Associate Professor of History at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 684 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Reprint edition (January 21, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195051874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195051872
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How So Many Irish Became American February 13, 2004
Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America is a well documented history of the emigration of more than seven million Irish people who left Eire for North America in five time periods from pre-Revolutionary days to 1921. Author Kerby Miller's research included more than 750 sources in both public and privately held collections in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Canada, 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia as well as more than 5,000 emigrants' letters, memoirs, poems, songs and folklore.
Miller begins and ends the book with recollections of Irish oral tradition to help understand the essence of the Irish emigration experience. He refers to Irish poems, songs and ballads from as early as the 11th century to explain an almost original sin-like belief that all Irish are exiles whether they emigrated or not. He explains how the Irish wake became a metaphor for the departure of the emigrants. In the last moments before Maura O'Sullivan left her mother's cottage to begin her journey to America, the old women of the village gathered `round to sing a mournful goodbye that just as easily could have been a funeral dirge: "Oh, musha, Maura, how shall I live after you when the long winter's night will be here and you not coming to the door nor your laughter to be heard!"
By the 1830s, less than 10,000 families literally owned Ireland, with several hundred of the wealthiest proprietors and large tenants monopolizing the bulk of the land. The Irish Diaspora flowed from an extreme concentration of property and power in an agrarian, export-based economy where too many people competed for too few jobs. In 1841, 80 percent of the more than 8.1 million Irish lived in communities of less than 20 houses.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Many of us tracing our Irish ancestry will never really know our forebears - we may learn their names and the dates and places of their births and deaths - but we will never know who they really were. It is to sources such as this book that we must turn to flesh out the picture of the Irish emigrant and the forces that drove them from their homes - economic, social, cultural, and psychological, as well as their reactions to and rationalizations of those forces. We must then apply this information on the Irish emigrant milieu to the framework of knowledge of our specific forebears. The book has given me a plausible explanation as to why my County Mayo ancestors did not emigrate until the 1880's while so many from other parts of Ireland came over much sooner. Dr. Miller is quite detailed in his discussion of the differences in the adherence to traditional Irish culture and the Irish language that existed between the inhabitants of western Ireland and the remainder of the island. A must-read for any geneaologist seeking their Irish roots!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary. July 31, 1998
I was fortunate enough to have taken an Irish History class taught by Mr. Miller, and he is quite simply the pure embodiment of knowledge. From what I understand, this book is regarded as the definitive work on the subject, and I heartily agree. As an undergraduate student, initially only mildly interested in American/Irish relations, I read this book as an assignment; the subsequent three times, out of zeal and desire. Well written with an appeal not only to historians and Irish Americans, but to anyone who enjoys a nice thick read, I have passed my tattered copy out to many people, and all were happily satisfied. A brilliant tome, no matter your background.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As far as I'm concerned this is required reading for any Irish American who wants to know from whence she or he comes. I recognized many traits in my own family that had their origins in the Ireland described by Mr. Miller and we've been here for five generations. For anyone who wants to get by the stereotypes of St. Patrick's Day and Green Beer you'll be well rewarded. Jim Conbo
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty thorough look at the Irish Diaspora December 31, 2001
By A Customer
An excellent book covering the migration out of Ireland. Miller looks at the different time periods and at the different kinds of immigration, and traces the idea of emigration as "exile." Great background materials are included, as well as good statistical appendices and notes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kerby Miller's Emigrants and Exiles is the unsurpassed history of the Irish exodus to the North America, which, as the author says, was in global terms a major population movement. This book has been aptly described as "magisterial." Its broad in its coverage and conceptualization, rich in its detail and information, powerful in its argumentation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good but tough to read January 24, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is going to take me months, if not years, to read! I don't know who the author was writing for but not the the average reader, that's for sure. I have to have a dictionary by me & even then don't understand what he is trying to say because of some of his sentence structure. I have 3 yrs of college, went to nursing school, & was an RN nearly 30 years so I can't read that far below normal but, geeze, this is a chore. However, there is really good information in it & I know, if I can ever plow through it, I will be glad I did. I just wish it weren't written so lofty for some kind of scholars so it would be more pleasurable to read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Appears to have some information though it took a while
I ordered it on10/1 and got it today, 10/12. I am starting to research the Neal's emigration from Ireland in the 1700's or sooner. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Hoyt Neal
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story About A Great Nation Filled Always With Great People
Truly a well written highly informative detailed account of Ireland happenings over the long ago to present years. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Don Walton
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Seller!
Fast, easy, as promised - the book showed up quickly and in the advertised condition. Thanks for the order and good luck in the future
Published on April 13, 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Why the Irish Left Ireland.
I am researching the Ireland of my Great-Great Grandfather. He and his family left Ireland in 1847. He identified his occupation as a laborer and his family members as servants. Read more
Published on July 3, 2011 by Terrence N Cobry
4.0 out of 5 stars Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America
This is a very in-depth research of the topic as stated in the title. If you are interested in Irish history this book is quite informative and interesting. Read more
Published on February 4, 2011 by Nancy J. Dickison
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Satisfied
I was very surprised when I found my package on my doorstep. I did not realize that it would get here so quickly. Read more
Published on August 18, 2010 by C. Melton
5.0 out of 5 stars Similarities to Today
This book was an excellent overview as to why Ireland's history was what is was. It enlightened me so much as to the "backward" mindset of the traditional Gaelic culture that... Read more
Published on February 14, 2010 by Kevin Cassidy
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be Irish to read this book...
I'm not Irish and I didn't have to read this book as part of a course. I read the book because I'm interesed in U.S. Read more
Published on May 13, 2000 by Dianne Foster
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