Jay Dolan of Notre Dame University is one of America’s most acclaimed scholars of immigration and ethnic history. In The Irish Americans, he caps his decades of writing and teaching with this magisterial history of the Irish experience in the United States. Although more than 30 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, no other general account of Irish American history has been published since the 1960s. Dolan draws on his own original research and much other recent scholarship to weave an insightful, colorful narrative. He follows the Irish from their first arrival in the American colonies through the bleak days of the potato famine that brought millions of starving immigrants; the trials of ethnic prejudice and "No Irish Need Apply", the rise of Irish political power and the heyday of Tammany politics; to the election of John F. Kennedy as president, a moment of triumph when an Irish American ascended to the highest office in the land.
Dolan evokes the ghastly ships crowded with men and women fleeing the potato blight; the vibrant life of Catholic parishes in cities like New York and Chicago; the world of machine politics, where ward bosses often held court in the local saloon. Rich in colorful detail, balanced in judgment, and the most comprehensive work of its kind yet published, The American Irish is a lasting achievement by a master historian that will become a must-have volume for any American with an interest in the Irish-American heritage.
©2008 James P. Dolan (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Mother, Wife, Cultural Anthropologist, always a scholar and lover of books!
Since this book is on my research list, I forced myself to listen to all of it. It was a struggle. The book: The author alternates painting Irish Americans throughout history with too broad a brush and then a very narrow brush. This approach is rather frustrating to follow, and leads to confusion and questions of accuracy.
The Narration: Though usually sounding like a robot, this narrator reads the words of others in accents, Irish, British... Those moments were the only good spots in the narration because I found them humorous. Another narrator could have improved this already tedious book with a better reading.
Overall, it is chock full of history and rare in its extensive coverage, however it is not an enjoyable read/listen. This is a great shame, as the story of Irish Americans, if told well, should be a lively, character-filled story worthy of a true storyteller.
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