Review by Choice Review
This collection of correspondence and other primary accounts has been deftly arranged and skillfully annotated by four senior scholars of early Irish America. It presents the transatlantic connections between Ireland and North America in the 18th century in illuminating detail, taking them out of the shadow of the more voluminous networks of the 19th century. The most significant aspect of this remarkable study challenges the conventional view that Irish American religious animosities were simply transplanted grudges, exacerbated in the mid 19th century by the arrival of impoverished Catholic migrants. Instead, the editors emphasize the commonalities between Irish Presbyterians and Catholics during this period in contrast to their differences with the other religious and ethnic settlers of British North America. The republicanism of the late 18th century, with its enlightened and ecumenical "Irish" national identity, is presented as a historical opportunity to move beyond atavistic sectarianism. Yet the volume concludes with the reassertion of religious differences that accompanied the ensuing reactionary politics on both sides of the Atlantic, creating an antagonistic "Scotch-Irish" identity among Irish Protestants. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. J. O'Brien Franciscan University of Steubenville
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.