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The Irish Americans: A History

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  384 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
"Dolan has written a superb history of the Irish in this country…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

Acclaimed scholar Jay Dolan's panoramic account of the Irish experience in the United States follows immigrants from arrival to empowerment, from the dark days o
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Bloomsbury Press (first published October 28th 2008)
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Bill  Kerwin
Aug 19, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

A well-written survey of the trends and personalities in Irish-American history, with particular emphasis on politics (mostly Irish Nationalist and American city local), the labor and unions, and the Catholic Church.
Cheryl Gatling
One of my friends (an Asian-American) said to one of my other friends (a Polish-American), "What is it about the Irish?" Everyone in this country has some kind of ethnic heritage, but the Irish are always going on about theirs, with their Irish baby names, their Irish music and Irish jewelry, and their all-out St Patrick's Day celebrations. This book partially answers that question with its last chapter, "It's Chic to be Irish." People are proud to claim the Irish traits of "wit, gregariousness, ...more
Sep 18, 2012 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is one that will resonate with so many Americans. Like most Americans I am something of a "Heinz 59" and Irish is definitely in the mix. I think a lot of people can identify with that. Having Irish in one's background is something to be proud of and when you read Dolan's book you will understand why. The immigrants from Ireland have not had an easy ride in American history. In fact, they have not an easy ride before migration to North America. The deprivations faced by this people grou ...more
Mar 11, 2015 Thomas rated it really liked it
Recommended to Thomas by: family
Shelves: history
I borrowed this book from a family member. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is a very readable history of the Irish in the US. The author, an emeritus professor of history at Notre Dame University, starts out with the forgotten era of Irish emigration to the US--pre 1840. During this period, there was no differentiation between Protestant and Catholic Irish. After the famine migration started, the Protestant Irish began to call themselves "Scotch Irish" a term still used today in the US, but not ...more
Donna Davis
If necessary, one could use this wonderfully comprehensive, yet compellingly narrated book as a resource material. The index is great. But I am really interested in the topic, and so I read it clean through. The history of the Irish as immigrants; the manner in which we wove ourselves into North American history (and not all of it is attractive); and the influence we've had on the country of our origin is well told.

Knowing that 200 years ago my people were dead of old age by the time they were t
Kevin McAllister
Like most Irish Americans I often think of the history of the Irish in the US beginning with the Irish potato famine of the 1840ies. Surprisingly, Dolan traces this history back much further. As far back as 1700. And then continues right up to the 21st century. Personally, reading these early chapters I felt overly bogged down with too many unfamiliar names, facts, figures, and dates. I did gain some interesting new knowledge but it was work doing so. And somewhat tedious work at that.
Apr 16, 2012 Iris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In some ways this is like reading a text book. It deals with politics and the unions . Not only does the author write about the Irish but also the waves of immigrants,. Poles', , Jews Russians, Chinese etc. that came after them. Unlike Emma Lazarus's famous words, none of them were received with compassion. All had to claw their way in this New World, with laws enacted against them and distain and violence heaped on them.
Jacob O'connor
I've always been curious about my heritage. In some sense, I'm proud to be Irish, but everything I know about the country comes from books like this. I've never been. I don't have any immediate plans to go. The only tie I have to the O'Connor side of my family is my Aunt Karen (who happens to be working on an incredible family history).

Most people ofIrishancestry can probably relate perfectly with what I just said, and this book helped me make sense of this. Dolan does a great job of explaining
Aug 21, 2015 J. rated it it was ok
Shelves: history-america, vine
The Irish have been coming to America for a long time. Whether they were fleeing starvation, political or religious oppression, or were just seeking better opportunities they came in such great numbers that sometimes there were more Irish here than in the homeland. Initially it was Protestants mostly from the north, but when devastating famines hit the green isle in the 1800s and British rule became even more oppressive, the Irish Catholics became the bulk of the tide, both men and women. They s ...more
Andy M
Aug 16, 2013 Andy M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author candidly offers an admission that earlier scholarship about Irish Americans has usually omitted any history of the Ulster Scots, a group no less Irish than the Catholic Irish. The first third of the book offers serious commentary about this group. But I do fault the author for abandoning mentioning them in the later chapters of the book that pertain to all the Irish in the more recent centuries. Readers are left with the impression that descendants of the Protestant Irish all ceased t ...more
Mar 05, 2014 Denise rated it liked it
This is an excellent outline of the trials that the Irish in America have gone through both in their homeland and here, in America, after immigration. The author focuses a great deal on Irish Catholicism without much taking into account that not all Irish are or were Catholic. Although I realize that this is one of the driving factors in the American Irish background, many of those who migrated to America were Protestant. I enjoyed the book for its information, however, and was quite impressed b ...more
Aug 21, 2009 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
If you are looking for a fairly comprehensive look at the contributions of the Irish to American politics and public life, then this is the book for you. A detailed study of the history of prominant Irish Americans, this book is a must-read for any Irish American.

The book does read a lot like a college textbook, and I can easily see it being used as such. Despite my high level of interest in the topic, the book was hard to sink into, and certainly required breaks to cleanse the palette. There i
Aug 09, 2012 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, my-books
This book reads a lot like a textbook and I think it was set up to be one rather than a book that someone can pick up and read for pleasure. The book covers the history of the Irish in America extensively. Even though it is a extensive history, and there is a lot of history, I was bored. A lot of the information is repeated several times. It took me quite a long time to read this book. I had trouble really getting into it because it is dry. Even though the author obviously knows a lot about the ...more
Sep 16, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a popular book and for good reason. Highly readable. Written by one of the leading Catholic historians in the world. I bought it for a research project, but thoroughly enjoyed it for its own sake.
Maripat Mcnulty
A good history of the Irish on this side of the pond. Learned that Scotch-Irish refers to the Anglo-Irish Presbyterians. I thought it just meant someone who is Irish and lived in Scotland like grandpa.
Apr 07, 2014 Riccol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was prepared going in to this for it to read somewhat like a textbook but also expected it to be an enjoyable as well as an educational read. It wasn't. It turned out to be a real struggle to get through and I quit around the half-way point, only quickly skimming the rest.

Dolan attempts to cover four main topics (religion, politics, labor, nationalism) over a large span of time across several main cities (Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, Chicago). An applaudable effort but the presentation makes it
May 16, 2014 Georgie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and accessible history of the Irish in America which also provides insight into key moments in Irish and American history and how they often influenced each other. Explores both the prejudice and difficulties Irish immigrants faced in America and the success and new opportunities they found there as well. Shows how heavily American culture is influenced by Ireland, and vice versa. Audiobook had a good narrator that made this easy to listen to.
Amy  Katherine Brown
As an Irish American myself, I found it very good to get a better understanding of my heritage. The book was quite detailed, though I did find it to be repetitive at times.... to the point of the author using the exact same sentences over again in different chapters.

All in all, I'm glad I took the time to read it, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in their ethnic background as Irish.

Oh, and I did NOT read this book all in one day, as it would appear from the dates. I believe I
I have always been intrigued by the Irish Americans; they are one of the most successful immigrant groups to grace America’s shores, but to this day remain separate and unique among immigrants of European descent. This book is a good introduction to the topic, though it does get long-winded in discussion of individuals (I prefer a more general, social history approach). It did answer my questions regarding the Irish Americans very well, explaining their (general) political leanings, response to ...more
Feb 12, 2015 Tami rated it really liked it
Shelves: nook
I wanted to know more history about the time frame of Irish immigration during the potato famine and this book delivered that plus much more. Lots to digest, many names I recognized throughout history -- of course the Kennedy and Whitey Bulger! I listened to this on audio, but now I wish I had the book, so I can refer back to certain time frames of Irish/US history. One interesting thing about reading this is to observe how the new Irish immigrants were treated and compare that to how we look at ...more
Suzie Fullmer
Having an Irish heritage, I thought it would be appropriate to read this book this month. I found it fascinating in its telling of life in Ireland prior to the immigration boom to life in the US up to present day. It made me appreciate even more the sacrifices people made and realize how fortunate my grandmother's family was. Not all irish americans were so successful. In fact, most were not.

The author does repeat himself quite a bit and backtracks more than I would have liked, but in general it
Apr 11, 2015 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent history. This book explained the causes of many phenomenon I've observed, and helped me to think about to process and outcomes of immigrant groups assimilating into the American cultural mix.
Jul 16, 2012 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My heritage is Irish American. I am traveling in Ireland at this time. Much research went into this book of Irish history. I appreciate learning about the lands (Ireland and USA) of my ancestors. I gained knowledge from this book. Cannot say that I enjoyed reading it. There was too much repetition of facts. I was bored, but kept reading. I did learn about "Mother Jones" and ordered a book about her..two days ago. Then yesterday, I learned of a Mother Jones Festival to take place in Ireland later ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads-wins
Finished this interesting history of Irish Americans (or American Irish)that covered the influence of the Great Famine in Ireland to the election of JFK and the lives of immigrants to the USA. Read about many names I had heard of while growing up but didn't understand any significance particularly to being Irish. I would recommend this if you are into history. I am glad I won this on the Goodreads site!
Steven Spector
A basic source admirably covering a lot of ground (1700-present) in about 300 pages. It can't possibly be comprehensive and obviously certain details in the history of a PEOPLE will be missed. Recommended for those looking for a friendly overview without the threat of becoming overwhelmed. Religion, politics, labor, and of course religion. It's all here in moderate doses.
Dec 12, 2010 Jeanne rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads-won
I was notified on Christmas day that I had won this First Reads giveaway. I am hoping it will arrive soon, as I am really looking forward to reading it.

Whats up with this book? Still haven't received it on February 27, 2010.

Update June 20, 2010 - Won on Goodreads but never received it -

Now will never read it, even should it arrive.
Jan 04, 2013 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned so much from this book that I never knew about both Irish and Catholic history. I found some of the parts about politics and labor to be a bit boring, but that's just because they're not things I'm interested in. After reading this, I'd like to read more about Irish history to get a little more detail. This book was a good overview.
Kilian Metcalf
May 21, 2014 Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historian Jay P Dolan turns his attention to on the of most dynamic ethnic groups in America——the Irish. From the early days of Irish immigration, through the dark days of NINA, to the current state of chicness, the Irish are impossible to ignore. This lively and readable account brings out the Irish in all of us.
Jul 11, 2012 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Regretfully had to return inter-library loan before finished book. Found interesting parallel between Irish and Hispanic influence on American culture simply because of the force of their numbers. Also, that there was a "tea party" in this country in 1854 that was anti-Irish in reaction to the flood of immigrants.
Jun 17, 2012 Abby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a people and as individuals the Irish have had a major impact on the history of the US nation. Dolan provides a detailed account of their history in this book. Unfortunately his style is dry and lacks a knack for storytelling. This and several redundancies make this history book a yawn.
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