The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man. Read more...
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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.
- ISBN-13: 9780544272880
- ISBN-10: 0544272889
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
- Publish Date: March 2016
- Page Count: 384
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-12-14
- Reviewer: Staff
Those who have heard of Thomas Francis Meagher (18231867) will likely know him as a Union general in the Civil War, but Egan (The Big Burn), National Book Awardwinner for The Worst Hard Time, moves Meagher convincingly into the ranks of patriots of both the U.S. and Ireland. With novelistic skill, Egan fashions a dizzying tableau of the life of his restless subject. Meagher was an Irish revolutionary who was condemned to death but then exiled to Tasmania. He then escaped to America, where he lived in New York City and became active in Irish-American politics. He was later appointed general of the Union armys Irish Brigade (which helped knit oft-scorned Irish immigrants into the American fabric) and became a heroic war leader, before becoming lieutenant governor of the Montana Territory. Egan also reexamines evidence about Meaghers death in Montana, convincingly concluding that he was assassinated by frontier vigilantes resentful of his determination to create the rule of law. As history, Egans book is solid; as storytelling, its captivating. The work adds little to the broader picture of American historyit focuses on the scenes in which Meagher participated, and those have been exhaustively covered elsewherebut it provides an impressive biography of a distinctive Irish-American figure, the patriot of two countries, faithful to each to his last. Agent: Carol Mann, Carol Mann Agency. (Mar.)
Fresh stories from the Emerald Isle
March is a lucky month for readers who love Ireland—a country with a rich narrative tradition, where stories and poems are considered everyday currency. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, we’re spotlighting three new titles that prove the country’s memorable characters and storytelling legacy live on.
AN ENDURING LEGACY
Timothy Egan, meticulous historian and crackerjack story-teller, offers a rousing biography of renegade leader Thomas Francis Meagher in The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero.
Meagher, a native of Waterford, Ireland, who fought for the Union in the American Civil War, has a personal history of mythical proportions. At the age of 25, he spearheaded an unsuccessful revolt against the British and was exiled to a penal colony in Tasmania. Less than a year later, he resurfaced in New York, where he was celebrated as a hero, and he went on to command the Irish Brigade—a rag-tag crew of immigrants and outlaws—in some of the Civil War’s most cutthroat conflicts. He later served as territorial governor of Montana. Egan sheds new light on the indomitable Irishman’s final days in this fascinating and far-flung yarn.
A self-described “lapsed” Irish American, Egan—winner of the National Book Award for his 2007 chronicle of the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time—writes in a spirited style that’s perfectly matched to Meagher’s remarkable life.
A NEW VOICE
Already a literary sensation overseas, Sara Baume, winner of the 2015 Hennessy New Irish Writer Award, delivers a remarkably accomplished debut in Spill Simmer Falter Wither, a captivating novel that features a man-redeemed-by-dog plotline. The book is narrated by an outsider named Ray, who, at the age of 57—“too old for starting over, too young for giving up”—is spurned by his neighbors after his father dies. Ray is something of a curmudgeon, and when he befriends a scruffy one-eyed terrier, he finds unexpected fulfillment in the relationship. But an unfortunate incident forces Ray to pull up roots and drift—canine by his side, of course. The novel chronicles a year in the life of the improbable pair, four seasons spent on the road that are rich with incident and gorgeously depicted through Baume’s precise, lapidary prose.
The 31-year-old author, who lives in Cork with two dogs of her own, displays wisdom beyond her years in this compassionate tale.
IRRESISTABLE IRISH YARNS
A native of County Dublin and a longtime columnist for The Irish Times, Maeve Binchy was the author of more than 20 bestsellers, including the classic novel Circle of Friends (1990). Binchy, who died in 2012, had a heartfelt, unaffected storytelling style that made her a favorite at home and abroad. Her many fans will cheer the appearance of A Few of the Girls, a collection of 36 stories never published before in the United States. Exploring the complex nature of relationships in the melodic prose that became her trademark, Binchy charts the dynamics of romance, the politics of family and the stipulations of friendship. When it comes to capturing the caprices of the human heart, she’s unbeatable. Readers will recognize themselves in her nuanced portrayals of women and men whose goals and regrets, dreams and disappointments never feel less than true-to-life. There’s no better antidote to a raw March evening than a dose of vintage Binchy.