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Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish-Americaby Tom Hayden
Synopses & Reviews
Tom Hayden first realized he was "Irish on the inside" when he heard civil rights marchers in Northern Ireland singing "We Shall Overcome" in 1969. Though his great-grandparents had been forced to emigrate to the US in the 1850s, Hayden?s parents erased his Irish heritage in the quest for respectability. In this passionate book he explores the losses wrought by such conformism. Assimilation, he argues, has led to high rates of schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism and domestic violence within the Irish community.
Today?s Irish-Americans, Hayden contends, need to re-inhabit their history, to recognize that assimilation need not entail submission. By recognising their links to others now experiencing the prejudice once directed at their ancestors, they can develop a sense of themselves that is both specific and inclusive: "The survival of a distinct Irish soul is proof enough that Anglo culture will never fully satisfy our needs. We have a unique role in reshaping American society to empathize with the world?s poor, for their story is the genuine story of the Irish."
"When David Trimble claimed recently that Irish republicans needed house-training, I felt the echo of my master?s voice down through the ages, that of the Vikings, the British, and the WASPs, and knew why I am Irish. Now and then someone has to defecate on the master?s rug."
"Who would have thought that Tom Hayden — old 1960s lag, anti-war campaigner, environmentalist, ex-legislator, and long-faced relic of Jane Fonda — had it in him to write a work of comic genius? Yet it is impossible to read Irish on the Inside without laughing aloud." R. F. Foster, New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
"Hayden's book stirs our complacency and forces us to rethink what being Irish is all about." Patricia Harty, Editor, Irish America
"Every Irish American (and everyone in Ireland, too) should read Tom Hayden's brilliant and passionate book. It is startingly refreshing for its honesty, idealism, and keen analysis of both Irish American society and of Northern Ireland's fragile 'peace process.'" Kerby Miller, University of Missouri
"Hayden, a leading student activist in the 1960s and now a California state senator, writes about finding his Irish roots in a book that will have many Irish-Americans up in arms with its take-no-prisoners, leftist spin on Irish history. But he makes some very good cultural points." Publishers Weekly
"This work is both a memoir and an examination of Irish and Irish American history. Unfortunately, much of Hayden's analysis is overly simplistic, accepting as self-evident claims the text does not otherwise support....As a personal memoir, however, this is a revealing look at Hayden's youth and his journey of self-discovery." Library Journal
"A valuable contribution?" Tim Pat Coogan
Though his great-grandparents had been forced to emigrate to the US in the 1850s, Hayden's parents erased his Irish heritage in the quest for respectability. In this passionate book he explores the losses wrought by such conformism and claims today's Irish-Americans need to re-inhabit their history and recognize that assimilation need not entail submission.
Hayden proposes that today's Irish-Americans need to re-inhabit their history to develop a specific ethnic identity.
About the Author
Tom Hayden has been a leader of anti-war, civil rights, and environmental movements in America since the 1960s. A California State Senator for eighteen years, he was part of the US Commerce Department delegation to Northern Ireland in 1995, and has authored legislation to include the Famine in California?s school curriculum. He is the author and editor of many books including Reunion: A Memoir and Irish Hunger.
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