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When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland's Freedom
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When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland's Freedom

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  137 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The outlandish, untold story of the Irish American revolutionaries who tried to free Ireland by invading Canada

Just over a year after Robert E. Lee relinquished his sword, a band of Union and Confederate veterans dusted off their guns. But these former foes had no intention of reigniting the Civil War. Instead, they were bound by a common goal: to seize the British provinc
Hardcover, 365 pages
Published March 12th 2019 by Doubleday Books (first published 2019)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  137 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Start your review of When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland's Freedom
Donna Hines
The Fenian raids of the Fenian Brotherhood which fought to bring pressure on UK to withdraw from Ireland was the central focus of this new work by Christopher Klein and it was both powerful and captivating.
I enjoy reading historical works especially memoirs and biographies so when this came up I knew it would be a great fit especially with St. Patrick's Day coming soon.
Boy was it riveting to learn all that occurred during this time frame between 1866 and 1871 - a time when many were starving in
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Irish Americans one year after the Civil War invaded Canada and tried to hold it hostage until Britain freed Ireland. A bit of a crazy story that’s true.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This is really well researched and well done. I had no idea about this. It did feel like there was of the Irish constantly stepping on rakes over and over. The worst part is, in many of the cases, they put the rakes there in the first place.
R.J. Heller
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Irish invaded Canada? I was captured, in a sense, by the title; and, at the end of the experience, happy I read Christopher Klein’s latest book, When The Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom. Klein lives in Andover, Massachusetts, and has authored four books previous to this publication. He has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, as well as, and

This is a story I was not aware had eve
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Seems to be well-researched, but it was a slog to get through for me.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I won this book on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

I feel like a poor amateur historian as I has no idea that Irish soldiers attempted to invade Canada in order to help gain Irish independence. This was a very informative book with lots of detail. Well written and easy to read/follow.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a Goodreads win review. History is my favorite thing to read about. This book is about an event in history that was not well known and I have never heard about it. After the Civil War was over soldiers from both sides decided to go to Canada and get them away from the British control and force England to make Ireland a Republic. These became known as the Fenian raids. These Irish fighters were still upset over the Potato famine that caused them to leave Ireland in the first place. The pl ...more
Sam Larson
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: underrated
Rarely covered topic and glad I read it!
Leigh Anne
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wait, what? Why???

Well, why not? If you were Irish or an Irish-American immigrant, you'd have a bone to pick with the British oppressors. And if you can't hit 'em at home, might as well hit 'em next door. This meticulously researched study of a little-known chunk of American history (there were actually multiple invasions, each one increasingly more ridiculous) is both fascinating and hilarious in its unfortunate futility.

Not that it seemed futile at the time. Shortly after the Civil War an ugly
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I won this book through Goodreads Giveaways (my first win!) and my wee little Irish American heart was so pleased to get the opportunity to read about the Irish right around St. Patrick's Day! I had never heard of the Irish invasions of Canada, so the title alone intrigued me. I'm also not much of a history buff, but because of my Irish heritage, I was excited to learn more.

I'll start with the negatives and why I didn't give this 5 stars. Like I said, history is not my favorite, especially war
Anne Morgan
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting, well-researched book, Klein tells the little known story of Irishmen fighting for Ireland's freedom in America. Plenty of context is provided to understand Irish and English feelings (both politically and personally), culminating in the Great Hunger when millions of Irish died and millions travelled to America to avoid the potato famine. Irishmen fought on both sides of the American Civil War, but many saw this battle as a training ground for a larger, more important, war- the wa ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-general
While this book tells a fascinating story, I found it dragging in spots. The author was attempting to show the interconnection between the rebellious folks in Ireland who wanted to free their nation and the exiles and emigrants who ended up in North America. The problem was that the telling of the story made the Irish Americans seem like bickering idiots for several decades. Now, maybe they were, at least in part, but it seems like the real failure of the Fenian movement in North America was to ...more
Sean Meagher
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
After reading much about Thomas Francis Meagher and the Irish during the Civil War, this book provides a glimpse into the events that would take place soon after. The rebel group known as the Fenians hatched a brilliant plan to invade British owned Canada, then known as British North America, and relinquish the land only in exchange for Irish independence from the 700 year rule of the British. Though things begin with a handful of triumphant surprising victories, disorganization and dwindling in ...more
Casey Wheeler
This book is well written and researched. It covers the numerous attempts of a group of Irish immigrants who try and invade Canada in order to take it over and force England to negoiate turning Ireland into a republic. This all takes place shortly after the civil war when groups of Irishmen who fought on both sides of the war join the cause. They were not successful due to the fact that their leadership was overly optomistic and poorly organized. At the start the United States took a passive/sup ...more
Dennis Hogan
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finished When The Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom by Christopher Klein. My Canadian and Irish ancestry attracted me to this story. The so-called Fenian raids, Irish Civil War Veterans attacking Canada actually did happen including two sieges originating in St Albans, VT. The raids had a far-reaching impact but not in the manner the Irish leaders intended nor on their timetable. The Irish incursions took place in the post ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, arc
Received an advanced copy in exchange for a fair review.

When the Irish Invaded Canada (an amazing title) is about exactly what it says: the time the Irish made a series of attempts to battle the British on British soil as part of a longshot attempt to gain freedom for their homeland.

Klein does an excellent job of providing quick but effective context about Ireland's history and politics (could actually stand to give a bit more, actually) and what was going on around the world. I had no idea the
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
A well-researched and well-written account of a largely forgotten chapter of trans-Atlantic history. A few minor factual inaccuracies, usually limited to casual asides (for instance, the author claims the Fenians captured "the banner" of the Queen's Own Rifles at Ridgeway - but as a rifle regiment, they never had a flag or banner to be captured). There are also sometimes when the author really struggles to be objective - this is not to say historians should not be critical of English/British pol ...more
Tangled in Text
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
History was my least favorite subject in school because I never felt like I could put it into practical terms. It always felt like a far off and far removed story but not a reality. Those stories are becoming more real the more I travel and visit the sites and museums where that history was made. It puts things in perspective and I was always a more visual learner, so now that I'm capable of going out and exploring on my own I'm ready to learn. I barely remember US History let alone world histor ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Entertaining and educational. I had never heard any of this. At times it's sadly comical, but the reader must keep in mind at all times the reasons for such a stubborn mindset, namely the horrors of the potato famine and the brutal centuries-long subjugation by the British. To be honest, they weren't treated much better when they arrived on our shores. They just happened to have a people foremost in their minds whom they hated more. Klein has laid out a fascinating tale in very readable form.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Outstanding and informative read by Christopher Klein! Combining America's Civil War that had many Irish soldiers on both sides of the conflict and England's suppression of Ireland and it's march for freedom. An amazing work that depicts the infighting of the Irish cause, the battle plan's that went directly to England by an infiltrator, a English spy; and Canada's resolve to end the conflict. This work will capture a reader with it's prose and the will of the Irish people.
George Hamblen
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great American History lesson we never learned in school. The amazing true story of Irish Americans invading Canada to force England to relinquish Ireland. Wow... By the end, I thought I was reading a Monty Python script.
Bob Melia
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was a good read about a lesser known part of both Irish and American history. The Irish struggle for freedom is lengthy and hear breaking. Thank you for making more of us aware by shedding light on this part of the struggle.
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Most Canadians already have heard about the Fenian raids, and their role in spurning on Confederation. This detailed account is enjoyable since its content is the American and Irish perspective, providing a larger look at the geo-political context of the raids.
Faith 09
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very interesting read. I had no idea this even happened.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Fast paced with great storytelling. A little known part of history brought to life.
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Extremely well researched book on a bit of history I knew very little about. If you enjoy history, especially history that is rarely taught in schools, this book is well worth reading.
John M.
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. Now I know why it took the Irish so many centuries to achieve independence!
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
"When the priests descend into the arena of worldly politics they throw off their sacred robes."
John O'Mahony
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting account of the Fenians and I learned a great deal.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look at a historical event most Americans never learned about, but all Canadians remember
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I’m a total history geek. Favorite historical figure: Teddy Roosevelt. Favorite historical event: the Defenestration of Prague. (Go ahead, Google it.) I love writing about history because it allows me to indulge my passion, travel back in time, and constantly learn more about humanity’s incredible backstory. History helps t

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