IRISH REBEL by Terry Golway

IRISH REBEL

John Devoy and America's Fight for Ireland's Freedom

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The first full-length study of the Irish Samuel Adams--a master propagandist and organizational dervish who transformed the cause of his native land's freedom from poets' pipe dream to political reality. Jailed in 1866 for participating in the Fenian revolutionary brotherhood, Devoy (18421928) was released in 1871 and exiled for the remaining years of his sentence. Disembarking in New York, he used America as an effective beachhead from which to assault British misrule. For the next 50 years, Devoy influenced nearly every major aspect of Anglo-Irish and Irish-American relations through his work as an editor for the New York Herald, publisher of the Gaelic American, and leader of Clan na Gael, an Irish-American group that supplied the rebels with money and ammunition. In the late 1870s, he allied with Michael Davitt in championing land reform and with Charles Stewart Parnell in pushing for home rule. Golway, a New York Observer staffer and coauthor of The Irish in America (not reviewed), is as adept at detailing Devoy's daring as he is at explaining the background of Irish politics and Devoy's turf battles (Devoy could direct sharp, occasionally unfair invective at rebels like Eamon de Valera if he detected backsliding or harebrained schemes). Remarkably, 50 years after he first clipped the British lion's tail, he secretly contacted Germany during WW I, defying American neutrality, in an effort to secure arms for another uprising-- thus setting in motion the events that lead to the Easter Rebellion, the catalyst for Ireland's successful revolt against John Bull. In summing up Devoy's last difficult years--the loss of hearing and sight, a bittersweet reunion with the fiancÇe he never married, and grudging acceptance of an Irish Free State that did not yet achieve full independence--Golway poignantly evokes the cost of the rebel's single-minded commitment as ``Irish America's conscience, defense, and . . . chief organizer.'' A riveting biography of one of the key figures in forging the American connection to Irish republicanism.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-18118-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1998




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