The history of the Irish in the U.S. is a central feature of Irish-American historian John T. McGreevy's new book "Catholicism and American Freedom." McGreevy (the John A. O'Brien Associate Professor of History at Notre Dame) expertly covers 200 years of conflict between America's Protestant foundations and the challenge Catholic immigrants presented to it. As Irish immigrants flooded Boston in the 1850s (when already nearly one in three Bostonians was Irish) esteemed intellectual Theodore Parker lamented: "Soon, Boston will be a Catholic city...and we know what use a few demagogues can make of the Catholic voters." But McGreevy - whose previous book, Parish Boundaries, won the John Gilmary Shea Prize of the American Catholic Historical Association - does not merely tell a story of Protestant discrimination. He explores the many complex ways religion entered into debates on wide topics such as slavery, education, civil rights and even the current sex scandals rocking the church. ($26.95 / 431 pages / Norton)
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