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Nine Irish Lives: The Thinkers, Fighters, and Artists Who Helped Build America

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Through the battles they fought, the cases they argued, the novels they wrote, and the lives they touched, these nine Irish men and women not only became American, but helped make our nation what it is today. In the spirit of David McCullough’s Brave Companions, this anthology of popular American history presents the stories of nine incredible Irish immigrants as written b Through the battles they fought, the cases they argued, the novels they wrote, and the lives they touched, these nine Irish men and women not only became American, but helped make our nation what it is today. In the spirit of David McCullough’s Brave Companions, this anthology of popular American history presents the stories of nine incredible Irish immigrants as written by nine contemporary Irish Americans. Rosie O’Donnell, for instance, the adoptive mother of five, tells the story of Margaret Haughery, known as “Mother of the Orphans”; filmmaker and activist Michael Moore writes about the original muckraking journalist, Samuel McClure; and celebrated actor Pierce Brosnan writes about silent film director Rex Ingram. Some of the figures profiled are well known, others have stories that are less often told; all are inspiring. Compelling history mixed with moving and personal reflection, this collection of portraits is at once uniquely intimate and surprisingly immediate. More than one in ten Americans claims Irish ancestry and, with its celebrity contributors, Nine Irish Lives will have strong appeal for those readers. It is also, though, a timely portrait of shared humanity. These are stories about immigrants—and in the tales of revolutionaries and visionaries, caretakers and unsung heroes, Nine Irish Lives reminds us of the values and the people that have shaped America.


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Through the battles they fought, the cases they argued, the novels they wrote, and the lives they touched, these nine Irish men and women not only became American, but helped make our nation what it is today. In the spirit of David McCullough’s Brave Companions, this anthology of popular American history presents the stories of nine incredible Irish immigrants as written b Through the battles they fought, the cases they argued, the novels they wrote, and the lives they touched, these nine Irish men and women not only became American, but helped make our nation what it is today. In the spirit of David McCullough’s Brave Companions, this anthology of popular American history presents the stories of nine incredible Irish immigrants as written by nine contemporary Irish Americans. Rosie O’Donnell, for instance, the adoptive mother of five, tells the story of Margaret Haughery, known as “Mother of the Orphans”; filmmaker and activist Michael Moore writes about the original muckraking journalist, Samuel McClure; and celebrated actor Pierce Brosnan writes about silent film director Rex Ingram. Some of the figures profiled are well known, others have stories that are less often told; all are inspiring. Compelling history mixed with moving and personal reflection, this collection of portraits is at once uniquely intimate and surprisingly immediate. More than one in ten Americans claims Irish ancestry and, with its celebrity contributors, Nine Irish Lives will have strong appeal for those readers. It is also, though, a timely portrait of shared humanity. These are stories about immigrants—and in the tales of revolutionaries and visionaries, caretakers and unsung heroes, Nine Irish Lives reminds us of the values and the people that have shaped America.

30 review for Nine Irish Lives: The Thinkers, Fighters, and Artists Who Helped Build America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    Nine essays about the lives of nine Irish immigrants who came to America over time, each story unique. Poverty, the potato famine, political conflicts for some, each are worth reading, although I did have my favourites. In the introduction, Mark Bailey explains how he came to the idea of this book: ”In the Young Irish disorders, in Ireland in 1848, the following nine men were captured, tried and convicted of treason against Her Majesty, the Queen, and were sentenced to death: John Mitchell, Mor Nine essays about the lives of nine Irish immigrants who came to America over time, each story unique. Poverty, the potato famine, political conflicts for some, each are worth reading, although I did have my favourites. In the introduction, Mark Bailey explains how he came to the idea of this book: ”In the Young Irish disorders, in Ireland in 1848, the following nine men were captured, tried and convicted of treason against Her Majesty, the Queen, and were sentenced to death: John Mitchell, Morris Lyene, Pat Donahue, Thomas McGee, Charles Duffy, Thomas Meagher, Richard O’Gormann, Terrence McManus, Michael Ireland. “Before passing sentence, the judge asked if there was anything that anyone wished to say. Meagher, speaking for all said: ’My lord, this is our first offense but not our last. If you will be easy with us this once, we promise, on our word as gentlemen, to try to do better next time. And next time—sure we won’t be fools to get caught.’ “Thereupon, the indignant judge sentenced them all to be hanged by the neck until dead and drawn and quartered.” The protest from the world forced a “transportation for life to far wild Australia” In 1874 it was brought to the Queen’s attention that the recently elected Prime Minister of Australia was one and the same as the Charles Duffy who’d been one of those sentenced and transported to Australia. The remaining eight held the following positions Governor of Montana, Thomas Francis Meagher Brigadier General, US Army, Terrence McManus Brigadier General, US Army, Patrick Donohue Governor General of Newfoundland, Richard O’Gorman Attorney General of Australia, Morris Lyene and succeeding him - Attorney General of Australia, Michael Ireland Member of Parliament, Montreal, Minister of Agriculture and President of Council Dominion of Canada, Thomas D’Arcy McGee New York Politician, John Mitchell, also father of John Purroy Mitchell, Mayor of New York at the outbreak of World War I All of these stories are worth reading, as I’ve mentioned, but some of these I found to be more compelling than others: The Caretaker: Margaret Haughery by Rosie O’Donnell This one surprised me, this is probably the one I felt was told with the most honestly felt compassion. I don’t really associate Rosie O’Donnell with softness or loveliness, but this was really lovely, beautifully shared. The Organizer: Mary “Mother” Jones by Terry Golway This was a fascinating read. What an incredible woman. I knew some of the details of this, but not all, and it gave me a deeper understanding of Mother Jones. The Soldier: Albert D. J. Cashier by Jill McDonough Words fail me with this story, I’d read about some stories of women posing as men during the Civil War, but this was an amazingly beautiful story. The Father: Father Edward J. Flanagan by Mark K. Shriver Another story that I thought I knew much of the details of, the founder of “Boys Town” was a surprise, as well. This is such a compelling, compassionate story about love. In Pierce Brosnan’s ‘The Director’ about Rex Ingram, silent movie director / producer, I really enjoyed reading Brosnan’s interjections of his own personal memories. Ingram’s story is, overall, not a particularly happy one, and Brosnan’s memories were a welcome addition for me. Also included: The Revolutionary: Thomas Addis Emmet by Tom Hayden The Muckraker: Samuel S. McClure by Michael Moore The Author: Maeve Brennan by Kathleen Hill The Peacemaker: Niall O’Dowd by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan Recommended

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review. As the title would suggest, readers are introduced to nine people that immigrated from Ireland to America and left an impression on the landscape of their chosen country. However, as time has gone by some of their names( and statues) have been overlooked. Most of the selected writers( Pierce Brosnan, Rosie O' Donnell, Michael Moore ,Mark Shriver etc) interweave their own narratives with that of the featured subject. Occ Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review. As the title would suggest, readers are introduced to nine people that immigrated from Ireland to America and left an impression on the landscape of their chosen country. However, as time has gone by some of their names( and statues) have been overlooked. Most of the selected writers( Pierce Brosnan, Rosie O' Donnell, Michael Moore ,Mark Shriver etc) interweave their own narratives with that of the featured subject. Occassionally, I thought this worked really well in understanding why that attachment to that particular person was so strong, but sometimes I was bored.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This collection of essays about the careers of nine Irish immigrants to America is a great way to expand one’s perspective on the versatility and resilience of the human spirit. Often having experienced great tragedy such as associated with the 19th century potato famines or conflict and injustice during times of political rebellion, the figures examined either continue their struggles on the more fruitful stage in the New World or escape into new realms or adventures by reinventing themselves. This collection of essays about the careers of nine Irish immigrants to America is a great way to expand one’s perspective on the versatility and resilience of the human spirit. Often having experienced great tragedy such as associated with the 19th century potato famines or conflict and injustice during times of political rebellion, the figures examined either continue their struggles on the more fruitful stage in the New World or escape into new realms or adventures by reinventing themselves. The diverse authors of the pieces include varying degrees of reflection about their own personal connection to the lives of their essay subjects. That makes the read a bit of a smorgasbord or kaleidoscope. I would have appreciated if Mark Bailey had contributed more of a synthesis on the patterns arising out of the collection, but it was satisfying to experience the common or unique aspects to the stories. This preface shows what a mind-expanding range is included in the volume The essays that follow were written by nine contemporary Irish Americans—journalists, actors, poets, politicians, novelists—themselves all links in the chain connecting past to present. Tom Hayden, activist, politician, and icon of the of the sixties cultural revolution writes about his namesake, Thomas Addis Emmet, famed revolutionary leader of the Irish Rebellion. Rosie O’Donnell, mother of five adopted children, chose Margaret Haughery, the Mother of Orphans, who in antebellum New Orleans build four orphanages. Political journalist and historian Terry Golway profiles the labor firebrand Mary “Mother” Jones. Poet and LGBT rights advocate Jill McDonough chronicles the life of transgender Civil War soldier Albert Cashier; celebrated documentary filmmaker Michael Moore looks at celebrated news journalist Samuel S. McClure, founder of McLure’s Magazine; and Mark Shriver, nonprofit executive for Save the Children, writes about Father Edward Flanagan of Boys Town. Renowned Irish-born actor Pierce Brosnan explores the famed silent era director Rex Ingram, novelist Kathleen Hill examines short story and New Yorker writer Maeve Brennan, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan write about Niall O'Dowd, journalist and legendary founder of the Irish Voice newspaper. I had not heard of most of these figures and none to any significant degree. As for the authors, I have only read Michael Moore before (and seen his and Brosnan’s films). Thus, the read was an educational multiplier for a foundation built from past readings of Irish lit and history. Obviously, Rosie O’Donnell and Pierce Brosnan are the most surprising authors in the set. But the connection of their subjects to their own lives gave their handling of the tales some extra impact. Michael Moore was at his best in extolling the successful career of McLure as a primo “muckraker” powered by the highest ideals of journalism. The available life story of Mother Jones was personally inspiring, especially in learning how adversity on loss of her whole family to an epidemic borne of poverty got translated to compassionate efforts on behalf of oppressed mining workers and courage to lead strikes at a time of violent clashes. My favorite piece was on Albert Cashier, aka Jennie Hodgers, who emigrated with a million others to America at the time of the mid-century potato famines and was working as a teen farmhand in Illinois at the time of his enlistment in the Union army. Much of how she assumed the role of a he is obscure, as Albert provided different stories to different people. McDonough has to speculate a lot, but it’s worth the stretch to imagine the possibilities. Better pay and self-respect appears a likely impetus to the author: They got cash money, new uniforms, knapsacks full of coffee and hard tack, and a musket. They also got a chance to learn from each other, to meet other soldiers from other state, other countries. Not just to study how to be an American man but to define what American manhood was going to be going forward. McDonough documents what she can about Albert’s resourcefulness and courage that assured acceptance by her comrades in the army. What his regiment faced in Grant’s Army of Tennessee, both the ordeal of the successful Vicksburg campaign and later in a terrible defeat in a battle with Nathan Forrest Bedford. Albert continued to live as a man after the war, and veterans in his band of brothers seemed to accept that even after secret came out. Although Albert had to live as “Jennie” in his last days in an insane asylum, his buddies made sure he was buried with full military honors as a man in his uniform. This book was provided for review by the publisher through the Netgalley program.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin. McKernan

    This is a very interesting book. It has a wide range of authors and perspectives. I really enjoyed Terry ‘s Essay Would recommend it to anyone interested in the Irish

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    To be honest, I thought that given the people who wrote the essays on the subjects in this book, I was expecting it to be one of those books that I couldn’t put down. But contrary to what I originally thought, I only liked a select few, such as Rosie O’Donnell’s writing of Margaret Haughery or the the essay that Mark K. Shriver wrote about Father Edward Flanagan. But what this book REALLY made me think about was my own Irish heritage and ancestors and how they must have felt coming from Ireland To be honest, I thought that given the people who wrote the essays on the subjects in this book, I was expecting it to be one of those books that I couldn’t put down. But contrary to what I originally thought, I only liked a select few, such as Rosie O’Donnell’s writing of Margaret Haughery or the the essay that Mark K. Shriver wrote about Father Edward Flanagan. But what this book REALLY made me think about was my own Irish heritage and ancestors and how they must have felt coming from Ireland to America. I guess what I am trying to say is: Thank you Mark Bailey for sharing this book with me (and probably the world), and I hope that the writers of the essays are proud of themselves for contributing to your book also.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Janice Cafarelli

    I won this book on Goodreads. As with any book with multiple authors there is the up and downs to this book as with their writing styles. Some essays I totally enjoyed and learned from but others not so much. I could not read or even tell you who Michael Moore was writing about because he turned his essay into a rant on his politics standings and ignored his subject pretty much which was a shame as that was not what this book is about. But for the most part putting aside that part of the book it I won this book on Goodreads. As with any book with multiple authors there is the up and downs to this book as with their writing styles. Some essays I totally enjoyed and learned from but others not so much. I could not read or even tell you who Michael Moore was writing about because he turned his essay into a rant on his politics standings and ignored his subject pretty much which was a shame as that was not what this book is about. But for the most part putting aside that part of the book it was interesting and informative.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

    Inspiring! Part of the American story and an example of how diversity built our country. I know everyone will find a story to relate to. For me it is Father Flanagan as I had no idea that his Jewish friends had so much to do with helping Boys Town come to be. Also, he embraced all races which makes sense but nice to read an example. All of the stories are beautifully written and capture the heart of each individual. A good read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marnie

    This book tells the story of some Irish immigrants who made a life in the United States. They made their marks here and we are a better country for it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    R

    If you want to read about seemingly ordinary Irish immigrants who made extraordinary differences in the lives of many people by their actions and deeds, then this book will not disappoint you. The stories will leave you inspired by their accomplishments, dedication, and selfless service to their adopted homeland. I was especially impressed by the story of Private Albert J. Cashier, who spent three years of fighting for the 95th Regiment during the Civil War. Private Cashier was a courageous and If you want to read about seemingly ordinary Irish immigrants who made extraordinary differences in the lives of many people by their actions and deeds, then this book will not disappoint you. The stories will leave you inspired by their accomplishments, dedication, and selfless service to their adopted homeland. I was especially impressed by the story of Private Albert J. Cashier, who spent three years of fighting for the 95th Regiment during the Civil War. Private Cashier was a courageous and dedicated soldier. Private Cashier was also born Jennie Irene Hodgers. Yes, she served her country well fighting alongside male soldiers. The stories of the other eight lives are just as compelling. Many of the stories were also interspersed with the author’s own personal tidbits which made the stories even more interesting and engaging. Needless to say, this book is highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Shepherd

    I found this book very interesting. There was so much I did not know about the Irish, even though my family background includes a young Irishman who came to America in 1888. The authors have done an outstanding job of bringing their subjects to life for me. I received my copy free through goodreads.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    I read 2 stores that weren’t that exciting and book the book down to read something better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    Perfect St. Patrick's Week quick read! Fascinating lives!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    This is not the book I thought it was going to be - clearly, I didn't read the promotional material very well. I was expecting Pierce Brosnan to tell his story as an Irish immigrant. He did do that but by comparing his own experiences with those of the person he chose or was assigned, Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock (later to be known as Rex Ingram), an Irish immigrant also in the entertain-ment industry and movie director in the early years of film. Similarly, eight other Irish-born Americ This is not the book I thought it was going to be - clearly, I didn't read the promotional material very well. I was expecting Pierce Brosnan to tell his story as an Irish immigrant. He did do that but by comparing his own experiences with those of the person he chose or was assigned, Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock (later to be known as Rex Ingram), an Irish immigrant also in the entertain-ment industry and movie director in the early years of film. Similarly, eight other Irish-born Americans in the arts wrote about specific Irish immigrants' contributions to American society. Some will find the book interesting; it did not appeal to me as much as I'd thought it would.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy Ingalls

    I won this book in a giveaway. Like every essay collection, I enjoyed some entries more than others. My favorites were The Caretaker, about Margaret Haughery, The Father, about Father Edward Flanagan, and The Peacemaker, about Niall O'Dowd. As an Irish-American (who grew up with an Irish-Catholic grandmother and a bunch of great-aunts) I was happy to read of Irish people who have made a difference and succeeded in various fields.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Kennedy

    Loved it!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan Wright

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan Atwood

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick McCann

  20. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  22. 4 out of 5

    JDReads

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kacey/Kris

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Hartigan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  28. 4 out of 5

    frank truman

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Grabarczyk

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Widdowson

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