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    The Irish in America
    by Michael Coffey
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (17 March, 2000)
    list price: $19.95
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    Editorial Review

    When public television aired The Irish in America in early 1998, the program received several tepid reviews from big-city TV critics. It seemed the drama of the early episodes--with their chilling, poignant stories of the "Famine Immigrants" of 19th-century Ireland--couldn't be sustained throughout all six hours. Well, words may be worth 1,000 pictures--at least, as read by Irish actor Colm Meaney (The Commitments, The Snapper) in this audio version. With a gentle elocutionary lilt, Meaney makes every event immediate, every personal history intimate. The story of the Irish immigrant experience is told here in six parts: "Hunger," "The Parish," "The Precinct," "Work," "The Arts," and "The New Irish." Along the way, we hear the interweaving of personal accounts--of Patrick Kennedy, great-great-grandfather to John; and James O'Neill, great-grandfather to Eugene. And in an imaginative pairing of scripted narration and personal narrative, each section closes with an essay written and read by a present-day American with deep roots in the Irish story. The most moving is a poetic eulogy to hunger from Frank McCourt, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Angela's Ashes. As with the TV version, it's the first section of the narrative--where we follow the journey of the 19th-century Famine Irish as they flee the recurring potato blight--that makes these cassettes worth a long car ride. The insidious fungus that killed a million people also wiped out the ancient myths and honored traditions of an entire culture, transplanting its survivors to a country that was, at best, hostile. Still, the Irish in America managed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and in the century that followed, went on to influence every aspect of American life. (Four audiocassettes; running time: 4.5 hours) ... Read more

    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, well done and full of facts.
    As a person of Irish descent, I was very happy to see "The Irish in America".This book is full of colorful illustrations showing what the Irish have accomplished in this country.I am referencing the book in my MA, History Thesis, this Autumn.

    On page 57, however, the editors have made an understandable error.They attribute the founding of Manhattan College (1853), De La Salle University (1863) and St. Mary's (Moraga, California, (1863) to the Irish Christian Brothers.As a 1965 graduate of Manhattan College, I can tell you that these three colleges were founded by the French Christian Brothers, also know as the De La Salle Brothers.This teaching order was founded in Paris by St. John Baptist de la Salle, and predates the Irish Christian Brothers by almost two hundred years. To my knowledge, the only college founded by the Irish Christian Brothers in the U.S. is Iona College (1940) in New York. Personally, I enjoyed the book, found new facts about the Irish in America, and would recommend itto any Irish or Irish-American person.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Famous Irish offer engrossing overview of culture in USA
    Coffey and Golway give a wonderful overview of the experiences of Irish men and women in the United States. Coming to the U.S. as a result of political an religious oppression, as well as a result of the potato blight in the mid-19th century, the Irish worked hard to gain respectablity and political voices as American citizens. In many cases, especially in the early 20th Century, to be Irish was to be a second class citizen in the U.S. Today's attitudes prove that the Irish have come a long way in American society from being judged as such to becoming a very proud and celebrated nationality in our country.

    Coffey and Golway use numerous anecdotes, excerpts, and other quotations from famous and not so famous Irish Americans. Included in this book are Denis Leary, Frank McCourt, and a forward by Patrick Kennedy. Reflections of these Irish-American personalities on their grandparents' or parents' lives and hard work, as well as memories of Catholic school, and other aspects of Irish-American life. Glossy photographs accent each passage beautifully and add to the overall attraction of the book. Contributions by all the authors provides a celebration of Irish ethnicity and heritage in the United States that is portrayed as humorous, melancholy, but overall proud. This book accents the PBS Documentary by the same name very nicely. After reading this book, I wished in a sense, that I had some Irish heritage. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0786885432
    Subjects:  1. Emigration & Immigration    2. General    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. Irish Americans    7. Minority Studies - Ethnic American    8. United States - General    9. History / General   


    1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish-American History
    by EDWARD T. O'DONNELL
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (26 February, 2002)
    list price: $15.95
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    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Book, and a Great Gift Item
    Overall a very good book and a very scholarly work. The book's Introduction provides us a brief insight into O'Donnell's motive for embarking on this work:

    This book ... is my answer to a question I've heard countless times in the past: Where can I find a book about the history of the Irish in America that is both accurate and accessible? My goal has been to write just such a book --- a fun yet factual look at the people and events that have marked Irish American history. I've brought to this task an inclusive approach that recognizes that Irish Americans always been characterized by an extraordinary diversity --- from religion to politics to class and identity. My inclusive approach has likewise led me to chronicle not simply the triumphs of Irish Americans, but also their failures.

    I feel that in 1001 THINGS ..., O'Donnell met his goal!

    I'm a regular reader of O'Donnell's weekly Hibernian Chronicle column in the Irish Echo. So his "easy to read and understand" writing style comes as no surprise to me. But the other user friendly features are: A sensible organization of 10 chapters; about 175 illustration or photographs; numbered entries, and a good index. Indeed the book is "accurate and accessible," and provides a handy reference to answer questions. Not only questions raised by others, but also questions that arise in one's mind while reading news accounts, books, watching films, etc.

    I always rely on reading to reduce the ardors of travel. I001 THINGS ... is a perfect travel book. The individually numbered entries, in a flexible paperback book, are very compatible with "stop and go" reading in an airport terminal or in flight --- particularly in the 'hurry up and wait" environment of these post 9-11 days.

    And the price? I purchased several copies because the price is reasonable, and it makes a great gift item. I generally trust my judgement. If I enjoy a book, the recipient of my gift probably will too.

    I've read many reviews of 1001 THINGS ... All have been favorable. Overall I share that assessment.

    But I'm a little disappointed about the omission of some notables.

    The McCourts --- Frank, Malachy, and one or two other brothers we have yet to hear from --- are not mentioned. I first thought that perhaps O"Donnell only included personages no longer with us. But this doesn't appear to be the case. Live personages such as Michael Flatley, Jean Butler, The Berrigan brothers, and Ted Kennedy make the pages of 1000 THINGS ...

    Then there is the omission of General O'Reilly, the second Spanish Governor of Louisiana. Yes, I was surprised too. Spain also ruled Louisiana. And a man with the decidedly Hispanic-Hibernian name of Alejandro O'Reilly was the second Spanish Governor of Louisiana. Indeed an interesting career in politics in the new world, for a descendant of a "Wild Geese" family.

    The most unfortunate omission is the Healy family. In the early 1800s, Michael Healy, an Irish-born Georgia planter, purchased Mary Eliza, a mixed-race slave. Laws during the slavery era prohibited interracial marriages, but Michael and Mary Eliza carried out their family life as husband and wife. Their union produced 10 children. Three brothers entered the priesthood ---

    James Healy was the first black American to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest. He later became Bishop of Portland Maine (certainly another first), where he provided distinguished leadership in pastoral work, education, social advocacy, and public welfare.

    Sherwood Healy reportedly received a doctorate in Canon Law from the North American College in Rome in 1860.

    Patrick Healy was ordained as a Jesuit priest, going on to serve as Georgetown University's prefect of studies from 1868 to 1878, and its president from 1873 to 1881 ---- the first African-American president of a predominantly white university. Healy Hall, one of Georgetown's major buildings is named in his honor.

    Unlike his brothers, Michael Healy did not embark on an ecclesiastical career. He ultimately joined the US Revenue Service, the forerunner of today's US Coast Guard. He mostly served in the waters of Alaska, attaining the rank of Captain and the Commanding Officer of the BEAR. The Coast Guard icebreaker, HEALY, is named in his honor.

    We know little of the remaining Healy children except that three of the girls became nuns, with one of them attaining the rank of Mother Superior of her order.

    Indeed the Healys were a distinguished Irish - American family.

    Aside from the omissions, 1001 THINGS ... is still a good book. I hope that O'Donnell will address the omissions with a future sequel to 1001 THINGS. Perhaps a suitable title might be ANOTHER 1001 THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IRISH AMERICAN HISTORY. In the meantime, I'll keep distributing the current version as suitable gifts to friends.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A lively, concise surveys of Irish-American experiences
    Irish immigrants have played central roles in defining the American character and identity, sharing their history and resources for generations. 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American Historys provides lively, concise surveys of Irish-American experiences, including both ancient Irish history and religion to modern surveys of Irish lives. A historical timeline format by topic allows readers quick and easy access to Irish facts, biographies of notable figures, and events.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Things I didn't know!
    I was able to borrow a copy from a friend. Now I think I may buy this book. The contributions of the Irish to our culture are so much wider and more meaningful that the trite and distorted leprachauns leaping around on St. Patrick's Day! And usually drunk at that. This book, written in a crisp and clear style, provides a refutation of that stereotype. It should be of interest to a much wider audience. Worth the money and time. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0767906861
    Sales Rank: 185218
    Subjects:  1. Europe - Ireland    2. History    3. History - General History    4. History: World    5. Ireland    6. Irish Americans    7. Minority Studies - Ethnic American    8. Miscellanea    9. Reference    10. United States - General    11. History / Reference   


    Irish America : Coming Into Clover
    by MAUREEN DEZELL
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (13 February, 2001)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $24.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (13)

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Now ,don't go getting above buttermilk."

    I've not heard the above saying before,but knew immediately exactly what it meant.This book is an excellent review of what it means to be Irish and what Irish,and particularly Catholic Irish is all about.
    There are over 50 million scattered around the world who claim Irish ancestory;and by no means are they all alike.
    "Almost anything you can say about Irish Americans is both true and false."
    Dezell's discussion about CWASP's, Catholic/Celtic White Anglo Saxon Protestants,is a bit different ,but right on the mark.
    The book is loaded with one-liners or epigrams.Here are a few to get your curiosity:

    "No point being Irish unless you think that the world is going to break your heart someday."

    "As is often the case, conventional wisdom is wrong."

    "Irish blood doesn't water down very well,the strain must be strong."

    "God gives us no more than we can bear."Rose Kennedy

    "There is no race of people for which pychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever ." Sigmund Freud

    "If you're feeling something,for Gods's sake take something."

    "If I'm Irish and I lose my arm,someone is going to tell me,'it's a good thing I didn't lose them both."

    A great read for anyone interested in Irish culture ,be it in Ireland,America or even here in Canada.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Oh, It's So True!
    I'm a Jew from New York, married to someone from South Boston. One of my familys closest friends (now regrettably desceased) came to the US from Belfast at the age of 10. Maureen Dezell has great interviews and made me laugh because I can see all of what she is talking about. I also have friends in Toastmasters from Ireland, and look forward to visiting in 2004. Then I can see the other side of Maureen Dezell's book. The book can be read in a quiet evening. Think of a deep psychological tome, only very readable and funny.
    Her description of Michael Flatley and Riverdance keeps popping up.
    No, I wont tell you. Read the book!

    4-0 out of 5 stars looking over a four-leaf clover
    A lot of the reviewers here have remarked how surprised they were to see themselves and their families in Maureen Dezell's synoptic view of Irish culture in "America" (including Canada?).I have to join these reviewers in saying what a revelation this book was to me.There is Irish blood on both sides of my family and I am also somewhat active in the local Irish-American community, so I see a lot of the type of behavior that she describes, particularly the cheerful bleakness in outlook ("It could all go wrong tomorrow, but we'll be all right ... probably.") and the careful "chopping down of the tall wheat" (as I am told the Australians say).

    When I was growing up we thought of the Italians members of the extended family as having discernible "culture" and it was tacitly assumed that the Irish relatives were just "normal Americans"; Ms. Dezell points out that this is the general condition in Irish America.It is not so much that the Irish are ashamed of their heritage (although sometimes they are), but more that they don't see any reason to make a big deal about it most of the time, so each generation takes more and more of the family character for granted.The Irish have a tendency to stick together in neighborhoods and in social organizations, and I can testify to the fact that they seem to unconsciously gravitate toward one another in a crowd, drawn together by their shared suspicion about putting on airs or taking an occasion too seriously.These reasons, and their enormous numbers, enable them to forget that they are in fact a distinct ethnic group.

    Ms. Dezell's book pulls aside the curtain (lace or otherwise) that hides all these quirks, traits and folkways and reveals the Irish character in all its cacophony of paradoxes, engimas, aggravations and delights.I subtract one star from my rating because Ms. Dezell comes dangerously close to being an Irish-American apologist on several topics, particularly racism, but also when examining the issue of drinking and the role of women in the culture.She also tends to repeat herself a bit too often for my taste.I believe that she is merely trying to drive home her points, but I noticed it.And, true to my ethnic roots, I can be pretty cranky sometimes. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0385495951
    Sales Rank: 569398
    Subjects:  1. Elements In The U.S. Population    2. Ethnic Sociology    3. Ethnic Studies - General    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: American    7. Irish American Catholics    8. Irish Americans    9. Minority Studies - Ethnic American    10. Social conditions    11. Social life and customs    12. United States - General    13. Social Science / Demography   


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    How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History)
    by THOMAS CAHILL
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 February, 1996)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $10.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little-known "hinge" of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the "island of saints and scholars," the Ireland of St. Patrick and the Book of Kells.Here, far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes laboriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the West's written treasury.When stability returned in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning, becoming not only the conservators of civilization, but also the shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western culture. ... Read more

    Reviews (203)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Dark Ages 101
    I have never found the Dark Ages particularly interesting, butthis little essay was definitely worthwhile.Cahill does an excellent job of bringing to life the fall of the Roman Empire, the culture of ancient Ireland, the work of Augustine of Hippo and St. Patrick and the return of literacy to continental Europe. The image of the barbarians flowing into the Roman Empire across "the frozen Rhine" is, in itself, justification for this book.

    On the downside, Cahill's narrative sometimes bogs down as he drifts too often into extensive quotations from Irish poetry and folklore and from St. Patrick himself.He broadbrushes the last thousand years of Irish history and drifts afield by projecting the fall of modern civilization because of overconsumption in the United States.His comparison of the leaky border between the United States and Mexico to the barbarian invasion of Rome is also a stretch.

    Despite these shortcomings, there is a wealth of interesting information to be gleaned from this book--particularly for those who are not students of the period.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable and informative
    Athoroughly enjoyable book. It isfactually very detailed but reads with the ease of a well written novel.
    It is no really a book in praise of the Irish themselves but how the progression of history is not always a straight line and how Ireland was for a timethe guardian and transmuter of the collective knowledge of Western civilization.
    When I say the book is factual however truth be told many of the facts of the period in question are far more complex or, at other times,far less clear than what is presented in this book. However the book never claims to be a complete history of the period. The author is writing with a purpose, a thesis to prove, and in the end he is successful. Despite its flaws it is a great achievement.
    The author working from his thesis sometimes neglects many details in regard to the ancient Celts and the complexities of their contribution to what would become European civilization. Also some of the facts stated such as those concerning the life of St. Patrick are less clearly understood than what is presented in this book. But again it is one man's thesis and not a complete history of the period. When one writes a short book of this type to inform yet be accessible and enjoyable one has to make some trade offs. I think he makes the right choices in the selection of his focus.
    Some may criticize him for it but I find some of Cahill's attempts at drawing parallels from the period of time in Europe which he outlines to the problems of the present day refreshing and thought provoking.
    There is quite a bit packed into this short book and it leaves the reader wishing for more and hopefully readers of this work will afterward be spurred on to explore this period in depth in the works of others.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Luck of the Irish
    The first of Thomas Cahill's "Hinges of History" series, HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION is a charming examination of the influence of the Irish in preserving and enhancing Western civilization.With a deft combination of well-formed scholarship and masterful storytelling, Cahill weaves a compelling tale of the role of Irish monks, scribes and other men and women in preserving classical Greek, Roman, Jewish and Christian thoughts and writings.

    From pagan beginnings to St. Patrick, to its place as a center and depository of faith and culture, to its present day, Ireland is revealed as a source of intellectual, cultural and emotional richness.Despite its later political subjugation, Ireland and its people have continually enriched Western civilization, spanning the often treacherous chasm from ancient civilization to modernity.

    The scholarship is excellent, the prose is engaging, and the stories are delightful as the author offers a fresh perspective on events, influences and trends.As with his subsequent offerings, THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS and DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS, Mr. Cahill takes us on a fascinating journey through time, place and the insight of the human mind. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0385418493
    Subjects:  1. 400-1400    2. Books    3. Civilization    4. Civilization, Classical    5. Europe - Ireland    6. History    7. History - General History    8. History: World    9. Ireland    10. Learning and scholarship    11. Medieval, 500-1500    12. Study and teaching    13. History / Ireland   


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