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The Irish in America Paperback – March 17, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Irish in America was created, in part, as a companion to the PBS documentary series of the same name that was first aired in January 1998. Journalist Terry Golway's text provides a solid backbone to the book: she tells the usual story of Irish involvement in American politics and also sheds light on contributions that the Irish have made to American industry and culture. Golway's text is interspersed (sometimes a bit confusingly) with hundreds of illustrations, as well as with many brief essays by Irish American notables, including historians, novelists, comedians, musicians, and politicians. Two of the most enlightening are historian Ellen Skerrett's essay on the Irish American penchant for building cathedrals and Maureen Murphy's look at how Irish immigrant girls found upward mobility in America. Other essays aren't as strictly historical, but the matching of writer and subject makes them irresistible. For example, a lively contribution by novelist Thomas Flanagan on Irish Americans as portrayed in John Ford's films raises serious issues while still being entertaining (much like Ford's films). Despite a few other inclusions that may make some readers scratch their heads or roll their eyes (such as Denis Leary's essay, which contains something guaranteed to offend almost everyone), The Irish in America is a worthy effort, one that offers valuable insight into American history and the distinct role played by the Irish. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (March 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786885432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786885435
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.8 x 10.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,118,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Coffey, formerly the co-editorial director of Publishers Weekly, is the author of several books of poems, a book about baseball's perfect games, and another about Irish immigration to America--which together paint a fairly good portrait of his central interests. Recently, he has begun publishing his fiction, and his new book, The Business of Naming Things, is being published in early 2015. He lives with his wife in Manhattan and in upstate New York, where he was raised. For more information, visit

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John P. Rooney on June 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a person of Irish descent, I was very happy to see "The Irish in America". This book is full of colorful illustrations showing what the Irish have accomplished in this country. I am referencing the book in my MA, History Thesis, this Autumn.
On page 57, however, the editors have made an understandable error. They attribute the founding of Manhattan College (1853), De La Salle University (1863) and St. Mary's (Moraga, California, (1863) to the Irish Christian Brothers. As a 1965 graduate of Manhattan College, I can tell you that these three colleges were founded by the French Christian Brothers, also know as the De La Salle Brothers. This teaching order was founded in Paris by St. John Baptist de la Salle, and predates the Irish Christian Brothers by almost two hundred years. To my knowledge, the only college founded by the Irish Christian Brothers in the U.S. is Iona College (1940) in New York. Personally, I enjoyed the book, found new facts about the Irish in America, and would recommend it to any Irish or Irish-American person.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Coffey and Golway give a wonderful overview of the experiences of Irish men and women in the United States. Coming to the U.S. as a result of political an religious oppression, as well as a result of the potato blight in the mid-19th century, the Irish worked hard to gain respectablity and political voices as American citizens. In many cases, especially in the early 20th Century, to be Irish was to be a second class citizen in the U.S. Today's attitudes prove that the Irish have come a long way in American society from being judged as such to becoming a very proud and celebrated nationality in our country.
Coffey and Golway use numerous anecdotes, excerpts, and other quotations from famous and not so famous Irish Americans. Included in this book are Denis Leary, Frank McCourt, and a forward by Patrick Kennedy. Reflections of these Irish-American personalities on their grandparents' or parents' lives and hard work, as well as memories of Catholic school, and other aspects of Irish-American life. Glossy photographs accent each passage beautifully and add to the overall attraction of the book. Contributions by all the authors provides a celebration of Irish ethnicity and heritage in the United States that is portrayed as humorous, melancholy, but overall proud. This book accents the PBS Documentary by the same name very nicely. After reading this book, I wished in a sense, that I had some Irish heritage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janet H. Zeck on September 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
bought this for background info for genealogy project. easy to understand. i purchased one for each of my children so they may understand what their ancestors experienced.
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By Bill Dicksion on April 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Irish in America" is well researched and well written. I found it to be an excellent publication. And anyone who is interested in knowing the history of the Irish coming to America will be well rewarded by reading this publication.
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