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Mr. Dooley in Peace and in War Paperback – Large Print, May 8, 2008
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"It is a disgrace to American scholarship that [Dunne] is not studied, and thus republished and enjoyed on a par with Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce." -- Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence
From the Back Cover
Finley Peter Dunne was the greatest American newspaper humorist of his time. His turn-of-the-century dialect essays for the Chicago Evening Post and the Chicago Journal featured the fictional Mr. Dooley and the working-class community of Bridgeport, located on Chicago's near southwest side. Originally published in 1898, Mr. Dooley in Peace and in War was the first collection of Dunne's popular essays.
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Dunne wrote about 300 columns featuring Martin T. Dooley. MR. DOOLEY IN PEACE AND WAR collects forty-nine of them. Much of the American humor circa 1890 to 1910 that I have sampled is stale and sadly dated. Not so for many of the pieces in this book -- and even the lamest of them has one or two good lines. In addition, Dunne a/k/a Dooley (as someone once said, Martin T. Dooley is to Finley Peter Dunne as Charlie McCarthy is to Edgar Bergen) is a keen no-holds-barred, play-no-favorites social critic. The biggest problem the columns pose for the modern reader is the dialect speech -- for example, "iv" for "of"; "ivry" for "every"; "wan" for "one"; "I dinnaw" for "I don't know" -- but I soon adapted readily enough.
Nineteen of the columns in this book relate to the Spanish-American War or the follow-up Philippine-American war, which were ongoing at the time (1898-1902). The War in Cuba perplexes Dooley: "No human bein' can undherstand what the divvle use it was to sink a ship that cost two hundherd thousan' dollars an' was worth at laste eighty dollars in Sandago Harbor, if we have to keep fourteen ships outside to prevint five Spanish ships fr'm sailin'. Th' poor, tired human mind don't tumble to th' raison f'r landin' four hundherd marines at Guanotommy to clear th' forests, whin Havanna is livin' free on hot tamales an' icecream." The War in the Philippines bewilders him even more: "An' what shud I do with the Ph'lippeens? I can't annex thim because I don't know where they ar-re. I can't let go iv thim because some wan else'll take thim if I do."
The other thirty columns deal mostly with turn-of-the-century, urban life in these United States, mostly Chicago. The two most common themes are Chicago ward politics and the conflict between labor and capital. But occasionally Dunne/Dooley range across the sea, to England and Ireland. Here is the beginning of a column entitled "On the Victorian Era":
"Ar-re ye goin' to cillybrate th' queen's jubilee?" asked Mr. Dooley.
"What's that?" demanded Mr. Hennessy, with a violent start.
"To-day," said Mr. Dooley, "her gracious Majesty Victorya, Queen iv Great Britain an' that part iv Ireland north iv Sligo, has reigned f'r sixty long and tiresome years."
"I don't care if she has snowed f'r sixty years," said Mr. Hennessy. "I'll not cillybrate it. She may be a good woman f'r all I know, but dam her pollytics."
I've found the best way to read him is by doing so out loud. I know it sound dumb, but that's what works for me... Otherwise, Mr Dooley's Irish brogue is sometimes hard to decipher.