HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish…
Loading...

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero (2016)

by Timothy Egan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2861958,922 (4.16)30

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 30 mentions

English (18)  German (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Thomas Francis Meagher was born into a wealthy family in Ireland, yet at the time the rights of Catholics under British law were still severely restricted. As he was growing up to be an educated, idealistic young man, a disaster was beginning to unfold in Ireland: the start of the Great Famine.

The vast majority of Ireland's Catholics lived almost entirely dependent on the potato crop, een as the lands of the absentee landlords whose fields they worked produced large crops of vegetables and grain, as well as beef and lamb and pork, which were almost entirely sold at export. When the potato crop failed not one year but several years in a row, those other crops continued to be exported, while the Irish peasants starved to death, or fled Ireland in what became known as "coffin ships" because so many of their passengers died.

There's an important point to understand here. The blight that caused the potato crop to fail in Ireland was a natural disaster, but the famine that followed wasn't. Ireland wasn't the only country where many relied on potatoes as a major part of their diet, and it wasn't the only country where that crop was struck by blight. It was the only country where this crop failure cause a widespread and lasting famine.

The United Kingdom had made a series of political decisions over the previous few centuries that made the Irish so dependent on the potato, and so dependent on scratching a living for large families from increasingly tiny patches of ground. Then they made another series of decisions, when the potato crop failed, not to divert any of the export crops to feeding Ireland's starving peasants, to make it easier for the absentee landlords to squeeze the peasants into giving up their land, and to obstruct foreign efforts to send food aide to Ireland. Notable sources of that help and of international pressure to allow the relief supplies in to Ireland were the USA and France, but they weren't the only sources.

In some ways, Egan is a bit hard on the English, many of whom contributed generously to private relief efforts for the Irish.

On the other hand, it was English commitment to its mercantilist policies, the deification of the "free market," and the profound English racism towards the Irish, that prevented the kind of large-scale efforts necessary to actually prevent the famine or end it once it began. Instead, the blight simply ran its course, over several years, while people starved, emigrated, or, condemned for crimes ranging from stealing a loaf of bread to feed the family to rebellion against British rule, and the population of Ireland was reduced by more than two million.

Thomas Francis Meagher was one of the transported, shipped off to Australia.

His crime wasn't stealing a loaf of bread. He was one of the leaders of the Rebellion of 1848, one of the leaders of the Young Ireland group of Irish nationalists more radical than the revered Daniel O'Connell.

Egan gives us a detailed and compelling account of Meagher's growth from prank-prone schoolboy to young poet and orator to leader of Young Ireland--and then his continued growth, development, and public life after the 1848 rebellion. Sentenced to life in Australia--specifically, the penal colony on the island now called Tasmania but was then known as Van Diemen's Land, he escaped to the United States. That one sentence captures nothing of either the events, or the man Meagher was becoming.

On arriving in San Francisco, he was feted as a hero, made his way to New York City, and very gradually got drawn in to the increasingly turbulent political events leading up to the Civil War. Meagher was still dedicated to the cause of Irish freedom, and initially felt the impending American Civil War, and the plight of the black slaves, was not his business. Yet despite himself it became his business, and he raised, and then commanded, and led into battle, the 69th New York Brigade--the Irish Brigade, or Meagher's Brigade.

This Irishman, this Catholic, the man who was still a condemned and wanted fugitive, became one of the most storied heroes of the Civil War. After the war, he studied law, worked as a journalist, gave speeches, and became acting governor of the Montana Territory. He was serving as Acting Governor when he died.

Egan does a much, much better job than I do of recounting all this. The role of Irish-Americans in the American Civil War is large and complicated, and there was an Irish Brigade on the Confederate side as well. Meagher himself didn't start out as an advocate of abolition, but evolved towards it eventually seeing it as the only path consistent with the same American values that had given him refuge.

His was a colorful, significant life, affecting history on three continents, and Egan does a marvelous job of recounting it.

A final, personal note: I've known for a long time that periodic outbursts of xenophobia have been one of the recurring features of American history, with the descendants--often the children--of each wave of immigrants condemning later waves as inherently unAmerican and diluting the pure and true character of the country. I hadn't quite realized until now that the same rants against the Irish in the 19th century, with simple word substitution, would be difficult to distinguish from today's rants against "Muslims" or "Mexicans." Food for thought!

Recommended.

I bought this book. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
A great and compelling tale of Irish history in the middle of the 19th century which blends intensely with American history of the same time frame including a brutal account of some of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War.

The book is well written and generally easy to follow, though having a background on the periods covered certainly helps to keep up with the sometimes fast pace of the story.

My only criticism is that the author seems to gloss over certain events which would have been significant both historically and for Thomas Meagher.

Fans of historical literature will enjoy this, as will people with a taste for Irish history or the history of the American Civil War. ( )
  McCarthys | Aug 21, 2018 |
The story of a well-educated rebellious young man with a gift for words and a silver tongue. He and other leaders of Young Ireland tried to organize a rebellion during the time of Ireland's Great Hunger. Thomas Francis Meagher was banished to Tasmania, otherwise known as Van Diemen's Land, for life. He would escape from there and make his way to America where he would become the darling of the New York Irish. He led the Irish Brigade in the Civil War with the expectation that veterans of that war would serve as troops to free Ireland. The problem was the Civil War lasted longer than anyone expected and though the Irish Brigade fought fiercely they lost so many men that they ceased to exist as a brigade. Meagher couldn't recruit any more replacements and a draft sparked a damaging riot in New York. He wound up as Acting Governor of the Montana Territory and standing against the Vigilance Committee who ran the territory using terror. No one knew who or why they'd decide to hang next. He'd been acting governor for two years when he went to Fort Benton to attempt to collect weapons from William T. Sherman for use against the Native Americans and his back pay. He disappeared off the deck G.A. Thompson and was never seen again. A very well written book! ( )
  lisa.schureman | Dec 13, 2017 |
The Immortal Irishman is a laudatory history of Thomas Francis Meagher, a proponent of Irish independence from the British in the 1840's, to fighting for the U.S. as general of the vaunted Irish Brigade during the American Civil War.

A brilliant and literary orator, Meagher raised emotions on all sides. During the potato famine in Ireland he fomented troubles against the British, for which he was sentenced to death, and then in a gesture of leniency, sentenced to the penal colony in Tasmania for life. After a successful escape and refuge in the U.S., before, during and after the U.S. Civil War, he ran afoul of almost every group with an opinion on slavery, including the Irish and the Catholic church. After the war, as Secretary and acting-Governor of the Montana Territory, he raised the ire of those whose opinion of frontier justice included a gun and a noose rather than a system of laws.

Egan's prose, as read by Gerard Doyle, is almost as lyrical as his subject and makes you wish you could go back to hear the great orator speak. Meagher packed much into his brief 43 years on earth, and Egan does an excellent job recounting the experiences of Meagher and those around him. Egan obviously thinks highly of Meagher, and even when listing some of his faults, does so with reasoned excuses and apologies.

Meagher's story is a compelling one, and provides a jumping off point for reading more about the colorful figures who surrounded him. ( )
1 vote MugsyNoir | Oct 27, 2017 |
This is a highly readable biography of Thomas Meagher and the Irish and American history that shaped his life. Or more accurately, the history that was shaped by this larger than life figure. The book introduces Meagher on his last day on earth in 1867, and then jumps back to a history of the British policies that worsened the suffering during the Irish potato famine. From there it recounts Meagher's role in the Irish Rebellion of 1848, his exile to Tasmania, and then his eventual escape to the United States prior to the Civil War. I could go on about what I learned of his influence on U.S. and Irish-American history but I couldn’t do it with the clarity and thoroughness Timothy Egan brings to this biography. I definitely plan to read more from this author. ( )
  wandaly | Jul 29, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
In memory of the family ancestors, Egans and Whites, Lynches and Harrises.  Cast out of Ireland, they found homes in Michigan, in Chicago, in Montana, in Seattle, and never forgot where they came from.
First words
(Introduction) Look to the edge of the swollen  Missouri in Montana Territory, where the longest river on the continent holds a blush of twilight, to see what becomes of an Irishman just before he disappears.
For the better part of seven centuries, to be Irish in Ireland was to live in a land not your own.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary
Exiled by England,  
Thomas Francis Meagher became  
Immortal hero.  
(oregonobsessionz)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544272889, Hardcover)

From the National Book Award–winning and best-selling author Timothy Egan comes the epic story of one of the most fascinating and colorful Irishman in nineteenth-century America.  

The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America. 
 
Meagher’s rebirth in America included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade from New York in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War — Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg. Twice shot from his horse while leading charges, left for dead in the Virginia mud, Meagher’s dream was that Irish-American troops, seasoned by war, would return to Ireland and liberate their homeland from British rule.  
 
The hero's last chapter, as territorial governor of Montana, was a romantic quest for a true home in the far frontier. His death has long been a mystery to which Egan brings haunting, colorful new evidence.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 17 Oct 2015 17:25:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"From the National Book Award-winning and best-selling author Timothy Egan comes the epic story of one of the most fascinating and colorful Irishman in nineteenth-century America. The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York--the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America. Meagher's rebirth in America included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade from New York in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War--Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg. Twice shot from his horse while leading charges, left for dead in the Virginia mud, Meagher's dream was that Irish-American troops, seasoned by war, would return to Ireland and liberate their homeland from British rule. The hero's last chapter, as territorial governor of Montana, was a romantic quest for a true home in the far frontier. His death has long been a mystery to which Egan brings haunting, colorful new evidence"--… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.16)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2
2.5 1
3 4
3.5 1
4 23
4.5 9
5 13

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 134,225,236 books! | Top bar: Always visible