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Book: 'Irish American Chronicle' by Various Authors

This was a summary (by 'Freckles'') on the 'Ireland Calls' website about a book by various authors, entitled 'Irish American Chronicles'.

From the flap:
As the rotten potatoes crumbled in their hands, the Irish peasants shuddered in fear. Without potatoes, what would they eat?

The potato blight of 1845 marked the beginning of the Great Hunger. Ireland's Catholic peasants, oppressed by the British for centuries, lived such a meager existence that the potato was their main source of food. But the disease-ridden potatoes became unfit for consumption. Peasants became so desperately hungry that they ate dogs and rats, seaweed and grass. Starvation and disease swept the country. A million people died. Others boarded unsafe "coffin" ships and prayed that they would make it to a far-off land of hope and promise: the United States of America.

Survivors of the perilous journey joined the Irish who had arrived in previous decades - those who had fought for freedom in the Revolutionary War and who had built America's roads and canals. The dirt-poor famine immigrants crowded into crime-ridden neighborhoods, such as Hell's Kitchen in New York City. For paltry wages, they constructed railroads and labored in mines and factories. Thousands fought in the Civil War.

 

Discriminated against because of their faith, Irish Catholics stuck together. Over time, they climbed the social ladder, establishing themselves in such fields as law enforcement, firefighting, teaching, and politics. By the 20th century, Irish Democratic Party machines ran New York, Boston, Chicago, and other cities. Heritage and faith held Irish Catholics together. They built their own hospitals, orphanages, elementary schools, and universities.

In the 20th century, Irish Americans began to thrive. Henry Ford cranked out cars for mass consumption, while activist Mother Jones fought for the common laborer. Buster Keaton, James Cagney, and Grace Kelly lit up the silver screen. John F. Kennedy became the first Irish Catholic president, and Neil Armstrong rocketed to the moon with Irish pride.

"America wouldn't be America without the Irish," writes Peter Quinn in his preface to this book. "Simply by being themselves, by refusing to abandon their culture and faith, by building their own educational, charitable, and political organizations, the Irish helped make the country safe for diversity."

This is the definitive illustrated book of the Irish American experience. The epic story begins with a compelling history of Ireland, then chronicles the Irish in America from the Revolutionary War to the present day. The book profiles hundreds of Irish Americans, from presidents Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan to comedian George Carlin and writer Anna Quindlen.

The book explores such fascinating issues as how the Irish invented slang and the rivalry between "shanty Irish" and "lace-curtain Irish." For each chapter, historian Terry Golway puts the Irish American experience into perspective with thought-provoking essays. Moreover, the book showcases the greatest collection of Irish American images ever assembled.

Legendary actress Maureen O'Hara sets the tone for this book with her heartfelt foreword. "I come from a culture steeped in music, dance, and song," she writes. "I come from men and women who conquered 800 years of oppression, genocide, famine, bondage, and conscription. In spite of all these things, we sent out into the world priests, archbishops, cardinals, presidents, senators, governors ... We sent the rich and the poor, the beggars and the thieves. Above all, we sent out our Irishness."

Explore the Irish experience for yourself in this unique and extraordinary book, 'Irish American Chronicle'.