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Book Review

‘The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero’ 

5/18/2016

This book is the biography of Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced Mah-ur), who grew up during the time of the Great Famine in Ireland. book 5.19Born to a prominent merchant family, he became the voice of the Young Ireland movement, which called for the separation of Ireland from the oppressive rule of England. Egan’s description of the potato famine and the policies of England’s rule of the unfortunate island is gripping and unforgettable. More than 1 million people died as food from Irish land and Irish labor was exported.

Meagher participated in an uprising and was arrested. He was sentenced to be hanged, but his sentence was suspended, and he was sent to the Tasmanian penal colony. There he managed to escape to America prior to the Civil War, where his new life began. In this country, Meagher further honed his already substantial skills as an orator and was recognized as a leader of the immigrant Irish. He was appointed general by President Abraham Lincoln to ensure Irish participation in the Union Army and led the Irish Brigade during the Civil War. After the war, he was appointed governor of the Montana territory, where the Vigilance committee was responsible for many executions. His death after “falling” into the Missouri River was speculated to be a suicide but more likely was an execution by the Vigilance committee. After many years, a statue was erected to honor his contributions to the Irish community in that state.

Egan has written a fascinating biography of an important figure in Irish and American history. I would recommend it to Irish and Civil War buffs alike. CV

By Timothy Egan

Houghton Milton

HIV

March 1, 2016

Hardcover $28

384 pages

 

Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.

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