Irish on the Inside
In Search of the Soul of Irish America
By Tom Hayden
(Verso, Hardcover, 9781859846162, 312pp.)
Publication Date: November 17, 2001
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Tom Hayden first realized he was ‘Irish on the inside’ when he heard civil rights marchers in Northern Ireland singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ in 1969. Though his great-grandparents had been forced to emigrate to the US in the 1850s, Hayden’s parents erased his Irish heritage in the quest for respectability.
In this passionate book he explores the losses wrought by such conformism. Assimilation, he argues, has led to high rates of schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism and domestic violence within the Irish community. Today’s Irish-Americans, Hayden contends, need to re-inhabit their history, to recognize that assimilation need not entail submission. By recognizing their links to others now experiencing the prejudice once directed at their ancestors, they can develop a sense of themselves that is both specific and inclusive: ‘The survival of a distinct Irish soul is proof enough that Anglo culture will never fully satisfy our needs. We have a unique role in reshaping American society to empathize with the world’s poor, for their story is the genuine story of the Irish.’
Tom Hayden has been a leader of anti-war, civil rights, and environmental movements in America since the 1960s. A California State Senator for eighteen years, he was part of the US Commerce Department delegation to Northern Ireland in 1995, and has authored legislation to include the Famine in California’s school curriculum. He is the author and editor of many books including Reunion: A Memoir and Irish Hunger.
“Every Irish American (and everyone in Ireland, too) should read Tom Hayden's brilliant and passionate book ... startlingly refreshing.”—Kerby Miller, University of Missouri
“Few Americans, and in fact few observers of any nationality, have written about that tormented province [Northern Ireland] with such sympathy and clarity, and it’s a relief to encounter someone taking the American political and journalistic establishment to task for its pro-British bias ... a work of the poetic imagination, lovely, imagistic prose”—Andrew O’Hehir, New York Times
“If you only read one book about Irish America, this should be it.”—Niall O’Dowd, Irish Independent
“Reveals Tom Hayden as a dreamer and a rebel. Could any Irish person ask for a greater honour?”—Martin O Muilleoir, Editor, Andersontown News
“Stirs our complacency and forces us to rethink what being Irish is all about.”—Patricia Harty, Editor, Irish America
“Tear down the lace curtain, dump the fruit and wake up, Joey. It’s timeto be something besides tired. This book is history over amnesia.”—Frank McCourt, Los Angeles Times Cover Review
“Tom Hayden’s Irish on the Inside is the stuff of great awakenings—not merely for Irish-Americans but for the descendants of every immigrant who ever embraced the revolutionary ideals of justice and solidarity that are both Irish and American.”—John Nichols, Capital Times