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The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City [NOOK Book]

Overview

The newest volume in the award-winning Penguin History of American Life series, this innovative and fascinating work chronicles how a new urban American identity was forged in the streets, saloons, and churches of the nation's cities during the nineteenth century—a process deeply shaped, according to author James R. Barrett, by the Irish. Drawing on contemporary sociological studies and diaries, newspaper accounts, and Irish American literature, The Irish Way illustrates how interactions between the Irish and ...
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The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City

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Overview

The newest volume in the award-winning Penguin History of American Life series, this innovative and fascinating work chronicles how a new urban American identity was forged in the streets, saloons, and churches of the nation's cities during the nineteenth century—a process deeply shaped, according to author James R. Barrett, by the Irish. Drawing on contemporary sociological studies and diaries, newspaper accounts, and Irish American literature, The Irish Way illustrates how interactions between the Irish and later immigrants on the streets, on the vaudeville stage, and in workplaces from New York to Chicago helped forge a multiethnic identity that has a profound legacy in our country today.

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Editorial Reviews

Peter Behrens
…[an] acute and judicious account of the imprint of the Irish experience on American history…The seventh volume in the Penguin Press History of American Life series, The Irish Way is a penetrating, refreshingly unsentimental look at the role of the Irish in shaping and creating an urban culture.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
“The Irish saloonkeeper, priest, cop, and ward heeler have become caricatures,” writes Barrett, “but each really did interact with the new immigrants every day, as did the Irish nun, public schoolteacher, and street tough.” In this way, the Irish helped shape American identity, according to Barrett (William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism), a professor of history and African American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Three million Irish immigrated to the U.S. and by 1900 the Irish-born and Irish-American population had expanded to five million. This scholarly history, with chapters like “The Street,” “The Parish,” and “The Workplace,” details the interactions between the Irish and later immigrants in such public places as vaudeville houses, saloons, congested streets, and unions. In addition to the power and influence of Irish politicians, Barrett covers novels (e.g., James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan) and comic strips (Bringing Up Father) and the Irish influence on Hollywood, including Catholic censorship efforts that led to the Legion of Decency in 1934. Portraying colorful characters like New York reformer politician boss Timothy Sullivan and showing how the blending of African-American and Irish dance resulted in tap dancing, Barrett gives us an authoritative, fact-filled analysis. Photos. (Mar.)
The Wall Street Journal
“Richly detailed, often fascinating . . . a very absorbing work of social history.”
The Boston Globe
"A fast-paced tour."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Irish Way will be of high interest to anyone who cherishes the old industrial cities of America and, of course, the Irish story.”
Booklist
“Barrett has written an excellent, bottom-up survey of the Irish experience over the past two centuries . . . he is most successful in describing the Americanization of policemen, teachers, nuns, and even gang leaders. This is a superior ethnic study that will have value for both scholars and general readers.”
Kirkus Reviews
Barrett (History and African-American Studies/Univ. of Illinois; William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism, 2000, etc.) explores the influence of Irish immigrants on nearly every aspect of American society. Irish immigrants have always been a hardy group, particularly during the period of 1890-1930, when many of them led the country in politics, trade unions, the theater and the administration of the Catholic Church. The first wave struggled to make a life, vying with not only racism and discrimination, but also territorialism and infighting. However, they had the advantage of numbers and the ability to read and write English. They didn't settle in small protective neighborhoods but dispersed throughout the cities, which made their presence more conducive to the acculturation of new arrivals than in the ethnic quarters. The author establishes a distinct difference between acculturation and assimilation, the former being a gradual process during which ideas and language are absorbed both from and by the neighborhood. The second generation strove for respect and acceptance by moving into the church and skilled trades. Despite priests and other church workers of different ethnic descent, particularly Italian and Polish, Irish priests and nuns controlled the church, and their native scrappiness made them leaders in the unions. By 1900, more than 95 percent of Irish Americans were literate, and they quickly learned that they could control neighborhoods simply by delivering for their neighbors, whether in jobs or protection, collecting social capital at every turn. Thus the Irish could build political machines, which were blindly followed by "simple-minded" immigrants. Barrett's vast knowledge illuminates "America's first ethnic group."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101560594
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/1/2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,265,487
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

James R. Barrett is a professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He is the author of William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism and lives in Champaign, Illinois.

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Table of Contents

Maps xii

Introduction 1

1 The Street 13

2 The Parish 57

3 The Workplace 105

4 The Stage 157

5 The Machine 195

6 The Nation 239

Epilogue 281

Acknowledgments 289

Notes 293

List of Illustrations 367

Index 371

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