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Publishers WeeklyWhile the story of westward expansion in America cannot be meaningfully told without examining the immigrant experience, few have chosen to look specifically at the role of the Irish. Tales of Irish immigrants often focus on urban struggles, but Emmons analyzes the role they played in American expansion, largely focusing on the ways in which Catholicism kept them outside of American culture. Moreover, assimilation was counter to the Irish Catholic self-conception of being in exile from their homeland rather than explorers out to re-invent themselves, like their Protestant counterparts. Emmons offers a good deal of data to support his conjectures, but the individual anecdotes and testimonies don't always support the author's theoretical generalizations. Still, for readers curious about an under-represented aspect of American history, this would be a defining text to turn to, though its narrow focus will be limiting to non-specialists or more casual readers. Emmons means well, and knows his material, but the lack of a strong center for all his historical data makes his narrative grow tedious.
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