The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero
By Timothy Egan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 2016)
Reviewed by R. Bryan Willits
The story of Thomas Francis Meagher – Irish revolutionary, exile, American Civil War general, and eventual governor of the Montana Territory – has long deserved to be told. In his 44 years on earth, Meagher careened his way over several continents, transgressed national and epochal boundaries, and became well acquainted with many of the influential individuals of his time, in effect becoming one himself. Telling the complex story of this man, and the pivotal moments in which he was involved, is what Timothy Egan set out to do in this biography, The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero. There is no doubt that researching and incorporating such a vast breadth of material into this story was a major challenge. Egan nevertheless produced a highly readable volume accessible to a general audience. While this book has already earned significant acclaim, it is not without flaws.
By Andrew L. Hargroder
The 1790s was a decade marked by conspiracy-mongering in the United States. Polarized visions over the republic’s future inspired a prevailing mood of both revolutionary optimism for humankind and abrasive paranoia. Countering these anxieties, middle- and working-class Americans formed fraternal and literary clubs designed to foster democratic comity and candor as a public discourse. Among New York’s clubs, a new class of citizen took form, which espoused a more inclusive understanding of rights and political engagement. That allowed non-elites, like Richard Bingham Davis, to contribute to the conversation over the republic’s future.
"Tontine Coffee House” (1797) by Francis Guy. Though this coffee house was a site of frequent political clashes between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans throughout the 1790s, it also provide a sense of NYC architecture and the city's lively streets at the time of Davis and the societies’ activities.
By Marjorie Heins
The art collector Peggy Guggenheim had just opened her avant-garde "Art of This Century" gallery on West 57 Street in the fall of 1942 when her friend Marcel Duchamp suggested that she mount an all-woman exhibition. Guggenheim loved the idea: the show would be radical not only because of its composition but because most of the paintings, drawings, and sculptures on view would be either abstract or Surrealist in style, as befitted Guggenheim's modernist taste.
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