"An old-fashioned tale of tall talk, high ideals,and irresistible appeal . . . You will not read a historical thriller like this all year . . . [Egan] is a master storyteller." —Boston Globe
“Egan has a gift for sweeping narrative . . . and he has a journalist’s eye for the telltale detail . . . This is masterly work.” — New York Times Book Review
In this exciting and illuminating work, National Book Award winner Timothy Egan delivers a story, both rollicking and haunting, of one of the most famous Irish Americans of all time. A dashing young orator during the Great Hunger of the 1840s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony for life. But two years later he was “back from the dead” and in New York, instantly the most famous Irishman in America. Meagher’s rebirth included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Afterward, he tried to build a new Ireland in the wild west of Montana—a quixotic adventure that ended in the great mystery of his disappearance, which Egan resolves convincingly at last.
“This is marvelous stuff. Thomas F. Meagher strides onto Egan's beautifully wrought pages just as he lived—powerfully larger than life. A fascinating account of an extraordinary life.” — Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat
“Thomas Meagher’s is an irresistible story, irresistibly retold by the virtuosic Timothy Egan . . . A gripping, novelistic page-turner.” — Wall Street Journal
Those who have heard of Thomas Francis Meagher (1823 1867) will likely know him as a Union general in the Civil War, but Egan (The Big Burn), National Book Award winner for The Worst Hard Time, moves Meagher convincingly into the ranks of patriots of both the U.S. and Ireland. With novelistic skill, Egan fashions a dizzying tableau of the life of his restless subject. Meagher was an Irish revolutionary who was condemned to death but then exiled to Tasmania. He then escaped to America, where he lived in New York City and became active in Irish-American politics. He was later appointed general of the Union army's Irish Brigade (which helped knit oft-scorned Irish immigrants into the American fabric) and became a heroic war leader, before becoming lieutenant governor of the Montana Territory. Egan also reexamines evidence about Meagher's death in Montana, convincingly concluding that he was assassinated by frontier vigilantes resentful of his determination to create the rule of law. As history, Egan's book is solid; as storytelling, it's captivating. The work adds little to the broader picture of American history it focuses on the scenes in which Meagher participated, and those have been exhaustively covered elsewhere but it provides an impressive biography of a distinctive Irish-American figure, the patriot of two countries, faithful to each to his last.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A very excellent read! I was both hesitant and anxious when I opened the book - sort of like meeting someone new. However, I became quickly engrossed with the book and it was a great pleasure to have met Mr. Eagher!
I knew/heard of the Irish Famine but never thoroughly understood the mechanism of what caused it and thought this was to be a good starting point to learn of the Irish.
Each time I read I read longer and was soon finishing entire chapters in one sitting.
I remember visiting the monument in Helena but didn’t really consider its historical value and now, I plan to visit Helena again to truly enjoy these monuments.
To come to an understanding that famine and revolution don’t equate to a successful overthrow of “the occupation.” To think one escapes the shackles of captivity only to fall into the carnage of the US Civil War. To live in multiple worlds in one’s lifetime but never lose his love of mother country and his “people.” Ah...‘‘tis he.
Recommended from a friend
I was looking for a book to read while I traveled, this was one of the books recommended to me. After reading the reviews and description I decided to download the book. I never heard of Thomas Meagher until I read this book. What I most enjoyed about was the Irish history and learning about Brigadier General Thomas Meagher. I knew nothing about how the British treated Ireland, nothing about the uprisings and basically nothing about Irish history. I love early American history and I have read a lot about the civil war, this was another perspective that I enjoyed. As I finished the book I happened to be in Glacier National Park in Montana. I decided to stop in Helena to see the statue. Very much enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical reads..