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The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City (Penguin History of American Life) Hardcover – March 1, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Richly detailed, often fascinating . . . a very absorbing work of social history.” — The Wall Street Journal

"A fast-paced tour." — The Boston Globe

The Irish Way will be of high interest to anyone who cherishes the old industrial cities of America and, of course, the Irish story.” — The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Barrett has written an excellent, bottom-up survey of the Irish experience over the past two centuries . . . he is most successful in describing the Americanization of policemen, teachers, nuns, and even gang leaders. This is a superior ethnic study that will have value for both scholars and general readers.” — Booklist

“Portraying colorful characters like New York reformer politician boss Timothy Sullivan and showing how the blending of African-American and Irish dance resulted in tap dancing, Barrett gives us an authoritative, fact-filled analysis.” — Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

James R. Barrett is a professor of history and African American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin History of American Life
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition, First Printing edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594203253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203251
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #942,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Kelly on March 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Reading anything about the Irish is a passion for me so anytime I am offered a book about Ireland and its people I jump at the chance. The Irish were the first ethnic group in America and no matter how long the Irish have been here they always feel that Ireland is 'home' but also proud to be American. With their lives deeply rooted in their origins, be it religion, culture etc. they are always passionate.The Irish Way delves into the Irish in America in a way that is easy to understand and very entertaining. I am of Irish descent and I can still remember the slight brogue that my father had and the stories he would tell. In telling this story of the Irish in America, James R. Barrett uses his immense knowledge to instill in his readers a sense of what it was like to be Irish in America. The struggle in the streets of New York and Chicago, their deep Catholic faith, the racism even among their own such as the difference between the "lace curtain Irish" to the "shanty Irish". The Irish have had a huge presence on stage and in movies over the years and have been a force to be reckoned with in the labor movement for men and women. I really enjoyed this book and it will have a place with my many other books about Ireland.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Luke Killion on April 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The Irish Way" by James R. Barrett is a tightly written, informative text on the role of the Irish in America's main urban enclaves during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly those in New York and Chicago (though there are mentions of Boston scattered throughout). The one major aspect of this work is the text-book feel with which it was written. As Barrett is a history professor at the University of Illinois, I am assuming that this book was written for the classroom as a text, rather than something to be picked up as casual reading suitable for the den. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the book, only that the style was so dry, and information packed so densely, that for an informal reader the book definitely drags a bit. I actually found myself keeping notes (as I did in my college days) because summarized paragraph feel makes much of the information hard to remember unless the book is read very slowly (at least for me it was). The fact that I did want to keep notes (because there is so much of value regarding the Irish American experience) yet found the read more of a task than a pleasure, sums up the work as a whole.

Barrett's main contention in writing this book (which is divided into 6 chapters covering all aspects of experience) is Irish Americans (mostly Catholics) were the first true ethnic minority in the United States, so they essentially created political opposition to the right wing nativists. All other immigrants that came after the Irish had this mold from which to base their socio-political organizations. This brings about one of the primary points that Barrett focuses on, which is the ambivalence the Irish have towards new immigrant groups.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Lynn Kearney on April 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the '50's, I grew up in the West in a family dominated by the Irish side, in a parish dominated by Irish clergy and in a community in which many Irish (my father included) still worked for the railroads. I never knew the prejudice faced by the Irish who peopled The Irish Way. I never knew how the Irish sometimes fought with and demeaned other ethnic groups. I never thought about the importance of the Irish in unions and public service. I never realized that educating Irish daughters (as I was) was a long tradition as was teaching (which I did for 43 years) and nursing. I never realized how the Irish infiltrated the entertainment industry nor did I realize how ubiquitous was the Irish politician. As Professor Barrett says, the farther west the Irish went, the better it got. I would love to see him write a history of the Irish in the West.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patriot1 on January 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
It is a must have for those with Irish Heritage. Since I do genealogy as a hobby I wanted to see what they had to say about "The Irish Way'. I learned things I had not thought of before. The fact that the Irish were some of the first people to emigrate put them into positions of authority as teachers, police, fireman, religious leaders. These people were the ones who introduced "The New World" to those who came after.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shorty McCoy on December 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed learning that mobsters of other ethnic backgrounds took on Irish names. And that Irish women named Bridget were counseled to change THEIR names. Irish in the theater, Irish in politics. As I say, lot of fun.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written, well balanced, and thoughtful, James Barrett's book tells us not only what was happening but why. The social forces surrounding the immigration experience transcend the Irish experience, though for various reasons the Irish experience is unique. This is a must read for anyone interested in Irish history, immigration history, or labor history.
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