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Wherever Green Is Worn: The Story of the Irish Diaspora Hardcover – September 7, 2001

3.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Coogan, biographer of Michael Collins and Eamon DeValera, again tackles a boisterous, unruly Irish subject the diaspora. Irish emigration first began, Coogan tells us, in the 12th century, when the Normans invaded Ireland. Cromwell's terrorist campaign in the 17th century drove many Irish to France and Spain, while Cromwell deported many more to the West Indies and Virginia. Emigration took a more sinister turn with the advent of the famine in the 1840s. Coogan estimates that "a million died and probably as many as two-and-a-half million people left Ireland in the decade 1845-1855." He also estimates that another five million emigrated between the end of the famine and 1961. Where did they all go? Everywhere: Europe, U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. Coogan breaks down by chapter the geographical travels, and includes some very colorful tales. For example, Mexico still embraces the memory of the wild San Patricios (St. Patrick) Brigade soldiers who deserted the American army during the Mexican War to fight on the side of their fellow Catholics. The first Irish came to Canada looking for cod fish, but many Canadians still remember the invasion of the quixotic Fenians, whose aim was to "liberate" Canada from British rule after the American Civil War. Chile still celebrates its Liberator, one Bernardo O'Higgins, and Australia remembers its Irish Robin Hood, Ned Kelly. The U.S. chapter is filled with stories of Tammany and the Kennedys, and there is an extremely interesting section on Bill Clinton and how he brokered the Good Friday Agreement. Rich in characterization and detail not to mention the Coogan wit this is an invaluable reference volume that belongs on the bookshelf of every Celtophile.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Irish journalist Coogan, who has written several books on Irish history and culture (e.g., The Man Who Made Ireland: The Life and Death of Michael Collins), here details the story of the Irish Diaspora, or emigration, which began with the Irish Potato Famine and the subsequent emigrations of the 1840s. Coogan writes easily, giving an often fascinating survey of the many places the Irish emigrated to, not only the United States but destinations like Argentina that will be less familiar to Americans. He relates the story of Irish emigration to these places, sketches the lives of various Irish figures there, and surveys today's Irish Diaspora descendants. Other titles like Thomas Keneally's The Great Shame (LJ 8/99) cover the Irish Diaspora but to a lesser geographic extent. Coogan does tend to overromanticize, at one point profiling an Irish harpist and singer who happens also to physically striking and a brilliant Gaelic football player. More significant, though, is his failure to address the question why these far-flung emigrants cling so to their Irish Catholic heritage. Nevertheless, this broad-ranging narrative history should be a popular title in many public and academic libraries. Charlie Cowling, SUNY at Brockport Lib.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1 edition (September 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312239904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312239909
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Tim Pat Coogan is one of the most widely read living Irish historians. His books on the IRA and the Troubles are standards, and his critical biography of de Valera has probably forever changed the way Ireland's largest-looming political figure will be seen. Unfortunately, "Wherever Green Is Worn" does not match Coogan's best work. It is sprawling and lacks focus, and this cannot entirely be his fault; despite the book's merits, I can't help but feel that it is ultimately just another rushed attempt by his publishers to cash in on the popularity of Irish culture.
The chief and indisputable strength of "Wherever Green Is Worn" is its ground-breaking sweep. Nobody has attempted this universal an examination of the Irish diaspora, and this becomes both an unassailable strength of Coogan's work and a dangerous pitfall, as I'll explain later. Suffice it to say, for now, that this book is a useful first word on the topic and will hopefully provoke more thorough and concentrated historiographies to fill in gaps and tell the story with more critical focus.
And now, to pickier stuff, because it's crucially symptomatic of the overall way in which Coogan's newest contribution has suffered from the inattentiveness of his publishers at St. Martin's, who really owed their author a better editor than he got.
1) First, there are numerous typos and grammatical errors in the book, with the greatest concentration in the initial pages.
2) Slightly more embarrassing is the misspelling of gratuitous foreign phrases, like the italicized French "trahison des clercs," which Coogan spells two different ways in the course of the book; if you have to throw high-falutin' French phrases around, you really want to get them right.
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Format: Hardcover
Coogan's books are always written in a style that makes for easy reading; this is no exception. If written for his own newspaper, however, Coogan (the editor) might have wondered at some of the errors. The sections on the less known of Irish diaspora settlements were excellent. Coogan's personal contacts and varied and numerous acquaintances enliven all of his work and are evident throughout this book. Any lover of things Irish will enjoy the read.
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Format: Hardcover
Coogan takes on possibly his most adventurous project, as he traces the path of Irish immigrants throughout the world. As always, Tim Pat is thorough and his journalistic syle is very readable. The information contained in "Wherever Green is Worn" is fascinating. Anyone who picks up this book, no matter how much you know about the history of Ireland, will learn something new.
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Format: Paperback
I found this a fascinating and interesting read. There was so much information in it, that I must have taken over two months to read it. It's the sort of book that you could put down for three weeks and then come back at it without a problem. As a person who grew up in Ireland, I had some idea that as a race we had travelled the world but I would not have been aware as to the extent of that travelling and the similar hardships encountered to those who stayed at home. This is a book that every Irish person and I mean that in its broadest sense should delve into. I liked Tim's style of writing. His personal commentary very much added to the experience of reading this book.
Criticisms that I would have would be that the chapters were to long. Also in relation to the Irish churches influence on the world, he was right to highlight the great work done by missionaries but I do feel he could have given more information on the downside,i.e the minority who gave missionaries a bad name, those who ran the orphanages and industrial schools.
Its not to long ago that you would have found signs and notices in former colonial countries stating that "no Irish need apply". The opposite is now the case and most throughout the world are happy to have an Irish heritage. This book will endorse that feeling.
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Format: Paperback
The author has a change of tack from his more usual topics to take a look at the Irish dispora around the world today. Despite the large size of the book his analysis is still of a more light overview rather then an indepth examination. The chapters cover different areas of the world such as Africa or countries with particuarly strong Irish traditions such as the USA. Within each chapter he covers in an overview fashion the history of Irish emigration to the area and how things stand for the Irish up to and around the turn of the century. He does so by virtue of a lot of interesting anecdotal stories and it all leads to a very enjoyable read with some very informative tid bits such as say the football team in Argentina Velez Sarsfield which is named after Patrick Sarsfield.
The one problem I have with the book is the proof reading wasn't done very well as throughout the book there a fair number of typos. But I still really enjoyed the stores and the book in general and would recommend it to anybody looking for a nice realaxing overview look at the Irish disapora around the world.
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