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Irish Rebel: John Devoy and America's Fight for Ireland's Freedom Hardcover – March, 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

New York Observer columnist Golway follows the stirring life of John Devoy, a convicted Fenian deported in 1871 to America, where he enjoyed a long, dedicated life as a journalist, publisher, political leader, and gun runner for Irish independence.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

The first full-length study of the Irish Samuel Adams--a master propagandist and organizational dervish who transformed the cause of his native land's freedom from poets' pipe dream to political reality. Jailed in 1866 for participating in the Fenian revolutionary brotherhood, Devoy (18421928) was released in 1871 and exiled for the remaining years of his sentence. Disembarking in New York, he used America as an effective beachhead from which to assault British misrule. For the next 50 years, Devoy influenced nearly every major aspect of Anglo-Irish and Irish-American relations through his work as an editor for the New York Herald, publisher of the Gaelic American, and leader of Clan na Gael, an Irish-American group that supplied the rebels with money and ammunition. In the late 1870s, he allied with Michael Davitt in championing land reform and with Charles Stewart Parnell in pushing for home rule. Golway, a New York Observer staffer and coauthor of The Irish in America (not reviewed), is as adept at detailing Devoy's daring as he is at explaining the background of Irish politics and Devoy's turf battles (Devoy could direct sharp, occasionally unfair invective at rebels like Eamon de Valera if he detected backsliding or harebrained schemes). Remarkably, 50 years after he first clipped the British lion's tail, he secretly contacted Germany during WW I, defying American neutrality, in an effort to secure arms for another uprising-- thus setting in motion the events that lead to the Easter Rebellion, the catalyst for Ireland's successful revolt against John Bull. In summing up Devoy's last difficult years--the loss of hearing and sight, a bittersweet reunion with the fiance he never married, and grudging acceptance of an Irish Free State that did not yet achieve full independence--Golway poignantly evokes the cost of the rebel's single-minded commitment as ``Irish America's conscience, defense, and . . . chief organizer.'' A riveting biography of one of the key figures in forging the American connection to Irish republicanism. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (March 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312181183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312181185
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John L Murphy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to take the opportunity to write after finishing the book this past week; it's a good start for anybody curious about the roots of the support--in money, arms, rhetoric, and/or direct assistance--that Irish Americans have long given for Irish freedom. Often, the zeal of the "exiled children in America", as we're referred to in the Irish Proclamation of Independence from 1916, has surpassed that of those Irish we've left behind back home. Golway's book gives you some of the reasons why this disparity may have emerged--the force of the Famine, deportation of many Fenians, the Civil War's effect in giving unwitting assistance to many Americans who returned to agitate in Ireland and abroad, and the economic success gained by a few Irish emigrants and even more the sacrifices of a few dollars of many many more Irish who did the grunt-work which fueled the fortunes of those few, no doubt. Today, many of these emigrants' descendants are criticized as "plastic Paddies" who know little about Ireland beyond a few ballads and sentimental slogans. Both their critics and their supporters among the Irish Americans themselves should study this book, which uses Devoy's long career as a basis for a complicated study of how factionalism, quarrels, and a somewhat clumsy mixture of idealism and pragmatism all combined to effect change back in Ireland. And it should also instruct those who still support the Irish struggle today--it shows the pettiness and begrudgery that has often plagued U.S. efforts at grassroots aid. Although at times in the later sections, I lost track of who was outwitting who in all of the internecine backstabbing among the various claimants of The Cause, this is not to discredit Golway's skill.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The writing was very good. It was historically accurate. It gave real insight to the men involved and showed them with all their flaws. It's good to see these men as flawed human beings lest we make superheroes out of them. They did remarkable things during difficult times but they weren't perfect.
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Format: Hardcover
Golway tells the tale of John Devoy, greatest of the American Fenians, and a pivotal, if hitherto neglected, figure in the history of Irish nationalism. Devoy was an longlived agitator, fundraiser, journalist, convicted Irish revolutionary and American refugee who bankrolled Parnell, Patrick Pearse and Michael Collins, butted heads with the Ulster Presbyterian Woodrow Wilson and the egomaniacal Eamon de Valera, and sacrificed his personal happiness in the process. Golway's prose is sharp and terse, with a propulsive narrative drive. A fine work of history.
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By paquinn47 on December 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Hello, world! Does anyone out there happen to realize that this is one of the best books EVER written about Irish-American history? Devoy's life is a great story--essential to any understanding of modern Irish history and any true appreciation of the complex fabric of immigrant history in the U.S. Golway performs the rarest of tricks in this book: he combines first-rate historical scholarship with wonderfully fluent, accessible prose. This book is a treasure and, as time goes on, its worth will become more and more apparent.
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