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The Irish Americans: A History Paperback – February 2, 2010
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One of the things that appealed most to me about this book was the author's coverage of the Irish who arrived in America before the potato famine. Many of my Irish Catholic ancestors arrived in America before the Revolution and almost all of them were here before the famine but those early immigrants are often ignored or it is assumed that they were all Protestant and for the most part Scotch-Irish. The further back into history that one looks the harder it is to come up with sources but this author has not let that deter him from including people like my ancestors in this book.
Given the vast nature of this subject I'm sure that it must have been tempting for Mr. Dolan to try to squeeze as many facts as possible into this book by hitting the reader with a rapid fire kind of approach that would have accomplished little except cause confusion but he has resisted that temptation and has written a thoroughly enjoyable and informative book.Read more ›
Some, like me, might first approach such a book with a bit of dread. As much as the topic of the Irish in America is an interesting and varied one, for that very reason it can seem a well-worn path: the Great Hunger, No Irish Need Apply, Tammany Hall, John F. Kennedy. Luckily Dolan bookends the story that we are more familiar with by covering the Irish prior to the largest immigration (rightly termed "A Forgotten Era"); as well as some discussion of recent decades. (Though the question of what it means to be "Irish" in America today - another generation or two removed from Ireland, in a media-saturated environment, and in a more diverse country - isn't addressed in depth, and perhaps could be a book in itself.) And in between, you'll find you didn't know the story nearly as well as you thought you did! And gain an understanding of not just what happened, but why.
In looking for a comprehensive history of the Irish in America, though, I'd hoped it would be a bit broader. As the author acknowledges up front, the book does not cover the role of Irish Americans in literature, music, sports, etc. The focus is on politics, religion, labor and nationalism. (If that covers what you're looking for, though, this might be a five star book.Read more ›
The author, Jay P. Dolan, divides the book into four sections: A Forgotten Era (1700 - 1840), The Famine Generation and Beyond (1840 - 1920), Becoming American (1920 - 1960), and Irish and American (1960 - 2000). Each section contains a wealth of information about the Irish experience. It should be noted that the author pays particular attention to the involvement of Irish Americans in politics, but also gives attention to religion, discrimination, education, family life, labor, and economy.
Something that needs to be mentioned is that this book is focused mainly on the Irish American experience in the cities. I would argue that this is a reasonably big weakness in a book with the objective of presenting a historical overview of Irish Americans. Irish Americans have a rich history in rural America that is largely absent in "The Irish Americans: A History."
The beautiful thing about "The Irish Americans" is that it is easily accessible and useful to the casual reader interested in the history of the Irish in America, while at the same time it contains solid scholarship and expertise to the point that it is a valuable tool for folks doing research. Dolan clearly has a strong grasp of the subject matter. Readers of this book will learn not only about the specific history of Irish Americans, but also learn a great deal about the general history of America. "The Irish Americans: A History" is a superb book for what it covers. Just be aware that the focus is on Irish Americans in urban areas, not rural ones.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This reader did not particularly like the writing style of this book. The facts are all there. There is no dispute with the historical accuracy or wellspring of information... Read morePublished 18 days ago by tleeminnieme
Feeling my Irish after reading The Irish Americans: A History. No not that Irish but the connection to struggles and achievements which brings pride to my heritage
Dolan tries... Read more
This was an fun and brisk read. An overall interesting introduction to Irish-American culture. Definitely pairs well with Timothy Egan's The Immortal Irishman.Published 2 months ago by Cody Mclaughlin
Happy with cost savings. However I found the process of ordering complicated. Had to get help.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I thought the book gavel a good account of the Irish experience coming from the 'Old Country'. It also brought back memories of my own life as a Catholic school boy in the Bronx.Published 3 months ago by WRPHIL