This lively book by a political columnist for the New York Post is a selective ""interpretation"" based upon ""the history and culture"" of the American Catholic Irish in certain significant areas- politics and religion, of course, literature, the theater, prizefighting and law enforcement. Shannon first discusses some major events and influences which helped shape what we accept as the character of the Irish. The fact that they are an island people, never far removed at any point from the sea, are strongly influenced by their religion, and that their history is one of repeated national defeat, has a great deal to do with the elements of romanticism, melancholy, mysticism, humor and violence traditionally associated with the Irish temperament. In tracing the transition of a rural people into city dwellers, Shannon offers some interesting contrasts: James Curley and Al Smith; John L. Sullivan and James Corbett; Father Couglin and Msgr. John Ryan; the Gold Coast Irish who made fortunes while their compatriots were barely keeping body and soul together in the tenements of Boston and New York; William Z. Foster and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn on the one hand and Joe McCarthy on the other. There is a final, favorable chapter on John F. Kennedy and some very interesting sections on Fitzgerald, O'Hara, Farrell & O'Neill. Amply documented and very readable, the book is as literarily acute as it is politically sharp.