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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 Irish Americans 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.
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Jay P. Dolan is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Notre Dame, where he founded the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. He is the author of several books, including his best known work, The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present.Review:
“Dolan's book is scholarly and earnest, and will probably become the standard reference on the history of Irish America.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“No matter how many times it is told, the story of these immigrants is awe-inspiring... Jay P. Dolan tells this familiar story with the care and consideration befitting someone holding the title of professor emeritus of history at the University of Notre Dame -- as Irish-American an institution as New York St. Patrick's Day Parade. Mr. Dolan is nothing like the Irish storyteller (seanchaí) of old whose imagination, as Yeats wrote, is always "running off to Tír na nÓg," the earthly paradise of Celtic mythology. He is judicious and accurate, unemotional and lucid.” ―Wall Street Journal
“Dolan doesn't whitewash history: he notes the ‘rogues' gallery of Irish politicians' and continuing pockets of Irish-American poverty. His writing is colorful and comprehensive with impeccable scholarship evident throughout.” ―Publishers Weekly
“This compact, well-written, and enjoyable survey of three centuries of Irish American history is a celebration of that experience....[An] excellent work of ethnic history.” ―Booklist
“An impressive synthesis of recent scholarship and his own lifelong research, Jay Dolan's The Irish Americans: A History is the ideal book for Americans of Irish descent who want to learn more about what being "Irish American" really means.” ―Kerby Miller, author of Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America
“Jay Dolan has written a superb history of the Irish in this country, both scholarly and popular. Indeed on publication it became the best available story of the Irish in America. He covers the poverty of the immigrants, their loyalty to one another, their struggles to create a place for themselves in this country against intense hostility and deep-seated prejudice, and their ultimate success despite all their enemies. The book explains why so many Americans who have an option to choose their own ethnic identity decide that they want to be Irish.” ―Andrew M. Greeley
“Jay Dolan here distills the ripe fruit of a lifetime's learning in a fast-paced, wide-ranging narrative that provides an illuminating account for the general reader of one of the most remarkable immigrant experiences in all of American history.” ―Professor John Joseph Lee, co-editor of Making the Irish American: History and Heritage of the Irish in the United States
“Whether you know a lot or a little about the Irish in America, Jay Dolan's The Irish Americans: A History will engage and enlighten. A foremost chronicler of American Catholicism, Dolan has produced a concise and incisive account of an immigrant group whose impact has been profound. This lively and clearly written contribution to a full understanding of how the Irish have changed America (and vice versa) deserves the widest possible audience.” ―Peter Quinn, author of Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America
“Jay Dolan has achieved a remarkable feat: He has told the sweeping story of the Irish in America with a great appreciation for its complexity, its tragedies, and its triumphs. The Irish have transformed the United States, and have been transformed themselves into something we call Irish-America. Dolan explains how that process worked and why the story of Irish-America remains relevant at a time when we continue to argue about immigration and assimilation.” ―Terry Golway, author of The Irish in America
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