Abroad history of the Irish in America is, arguably, a risky topic for an author these days, even one as esteemed and respected as Notre Dame professor emeritus Jay P. Dolan. In his Preface to "The Irish Americans," Dolan writes that for years he taught a course in Irish-American history, which "kindled in me a desire to learn more about the history of the Irish in America." Adding that "William Shannon's book 'The American Irish,' published in 1963, was the last history written for the general reader," Dolan felt it was time for another such book. But it's tough to make the case that those in search of Irish- American history have had trouble finding it in recent years. Dozens of books, documentaries and more have explored this topic. Still, if anyone is equipped to synthesize these works, and the main themes of the Irish experience in America, it is Dolan, whose many previous books include "The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present." Religion, politics and organized labor are among the themes Dolan explores in this roughly chronological exploration which begins with the 1690 Battle of the Boyne. (Though, again, Dolan's choice to call the 1700 - 1840 era of Irish emigration "The Forgotten Era" is questionable, given that we've had numerous full-scale explorations of the Scotch-Irish in recent years.) All in all, though, Dolan's treatment of major Irish-American themes and figures is excellent. ($30 / 352 pages / Bloomsbury)
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