- File Size: 2637 KB
- Print Length: 380 pages
- Publisher: Fordham University Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2015)
- Publication Date: August 8, 2019
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00QH2U1ZE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,714 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Sons of Molly Maguire: The Irish Roots of America's First Labor War 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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Bulik's unfailingly interesting book has a fascinating story to tell. His analysis of the Irish roots of the Mollies is excellent and in line with the tendency of US historiography to extend analysis beyond the borders of the nation. His accounts of the battles between the Mollies and the forces of law and order in Schuylkill county are well-written ... he does a service in stripping away some of the grey mist from the Mollies. This book will appeal to both a general and an academic audience., Capital & Class
Mark Bulik’s The Sons of Molly Maguire is an engaging and enlightening work of historical research and scholarship. As well as bring into focus the Mollies’ role in giving America its first taste of class warfare, Bulik’s incisive and original explorations sweep aside myths, legends, half-truths, and untruths. He significantly deepens our understanding of these flesh-and blood laborers, who they were, where they came from, and how their struggle resonated through the labor movement in the United States. Thoughtful, insightful and unfailing fair, The Sons of the Molly Maguire is history at its best.---―Peter Quinn, author of Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America
“Mark Bulik’s The Sons of Molly Maguire is a superb work of scholarship. Focused on origins, this work situates the Irish emergence and American persistence of the Molly Maguires in all of their considerable complexity, while likewise ably revealing not only the crucial developments of the 1870s that have embedded the Mollies in American memory but also the factors contributing to the Mollies’ continuing legacy extending into the present.”---―James P. Leary, University of Wisconsin
With deft writing and impressive research, Mark Bulik offers a new explanation for a conflict that shook the very foundations of post-Civil War America. The Molly Maguires were at the center of America’s first great labor war, but as Bulik shows, the first shots of that war were fired not in northeastern Pennsylvania, but in the fields and villages of Ireland.---―Terry Golway, author of Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
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=== The Good Stuff ===
* Mark Bulik has done his homework. He traces the Molly Maguires from their rise in the counties of Ireland, and directly relates the struggles of Pennsylvania coal miners against mine owners to the plight of Irish tenant farmers and absentee landlords. .The degree of similarity of their tales is amazing.
* For those readers like myself, who are primarily interest in the mining history of the anthracite regions of Pennsylvania, there is plenty in the book to make it a worthwhile read. It built on some of the facts I already knew, including the often-contentious relationship between the miners, mine owners and railroads, and how each had a turn being in the proverbial driver’s seat.
* Bulik is at his best when describing the more human side of the struggles. He captures the futility of a miner working all year, and because of the company store system, actually owing money to his employer. We see the ability of the coal companies to directly affect the health and well-being of a black-listed “troublemaker”, and of course the mine superintendent who disappears on a dark road one evening.
* I learned much from the book. As an example, I always assumed the “Mummers” were a bunch of guys that liked string bands and going to parades in lavish costumes. I never realized their connection to the Irish labor organizations, their violent past, or their true origin. Fascinating stuff.
* While the book is “academic quality” in its research and references, the writing style is easy to read and not the convoluted 200 word sentences that seem to be a requirement of “serious, academic” non-fiction.
=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===
* Bulik’s topic is the Molly Maguires, not the labor struggles of Pennsylvania. As a result, a good portion of the book, maybe one third, is a journey through the history of Ireland and its secret organizations. And to be honest, this part of the book was hard to follow, and to keep straight the roles and tactics of various Irish organizations. And I never did quite understand the transitions of these organizations from Ireland to the US. There were groups of the name names, but it was unclear the exact relationship, if any, to the original Irish factions.
* Some of the book was a bit repetitive. I started to lose patience with the phrase “dressed in women’s clothing” when describing the Irish mobs enforcing the discipline of the various secret societies. I got the point after the first twenty times it was mentioned.
* Bulik avoids making conclusions. The book details much of the individual acts of the Molly Maguires and their associates, but stops short of analyzing the results. Did they ultimately benefit or cost the average miner? Were they responsible for the decline of the coal companies and rise of the railroads as the true power brokers? Were any of their violent tactics justifiable? Did the combative nature of the United Mine Workers and later unions build on the Molly Maguires, or were they a dead end? To me, these are the fascinating parts of the story, and Bulik gives them glancing coverage.
=== Summary ===
I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to anyone with even a passing curiosity about the struggles of Irish labor unions and secret societies and/or the coal mining struggles of 19th century NE PA. My personal preference would have been to slightly shift the focus of the book more of an economic analysis, but the author certainly gets to choose his topic. I found the book to be an enjoyable read, and looked forward to picking up the book.