Book Review: The Boston Irish by Thomas H. O’Connor


Author: Thomas H. O’Connor
Title: The Boston Irish
Publication Info: 9780316626613
ISBN: Back Bay Books (1997)

Previously Read by the Same Author: Eminent Bostonians

Summary/Review: Subtitled “A Political History” this is the Dean of Boston History’s story of the rise of Irish from subjugated minority to political power in Boston.  While there is a lot more that could be said of Boston Irish history this book focuses on the Irish mayors and a few other political leaders as well as Irish-American Catholic bishops attempts to help lead their flock into the Boston mainstream.  O’Connor follows to trends – the business-like, accommodationist attempts to work with the traditional Yankee power elite and the more confrontational, neighborhood-focused style emphasized by John Fitzgerald and James Michael Curley.  This was an interesting summary of politics in Boston history and especially informative of the big figures in recent history of Boston.

Recommended booksHow the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev, All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald, and Ethnics and Enclaves by William Michael Demarco.

Rating: ***

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Book Review: The Purpose of the Past by Gordon S. Wood


Author:Gordon S. Wood
Title: The Purpose of the Past
Publication Info:Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2008
ISBN: 9781433242137

Previously Read by Same Author: The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Summary/Review: This is a collection of book reviews written by the esteemed historian Gordon S. Wood.  Many of them criticize history writers for presentism, post-modernism, political history, and scientific quantitative analysis.  Coming under Wood’s scrutiny are authors I admire such as Gary Wills, Barbara Tuchman, and Simon Schama.  Yet despite this, I like Wood’s well-written and well-supported take on how history should be told.  Regardless of Wood’s ultimate opinion of these works, there are a lot of books I want to add to my reading list.

Recommended booksPracticing History by Barbara Tuchman
Rating: ***