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The Immortal Irishman
Cover of The Immortal Irishman
The Immortal Irishman
The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero

"An old-fashioned tale of tall talk, high ideals,and irresistible appeal . . . You will not read a historical thriller like this all year . . . [Egan] is a master storyteller." —Boston Globe
"Egan has a gift for sweeping narrative . . . and he has a journalist's eye for the telltale detail . . . This is masterly work." — New York Times Book Review


In this exciting and illuminating work, National Book Award winner Timothy Egan delivers a story, both rollicking and haunting, of one of the most famous Irish Americans of all time. A dashing young orator during the Great Hunger of the 1840s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony for life. But two years later he was "back from the dead" and in New York, instantly the most famous Irishman in America. Meagher's rebirth included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Afterward, he tried to build a new Ireland in the wild west of Montana—a quixotic adventure that ended in the great mystery of his disappearance, which Egan resolves convincingly at last.

"This is marvelous stuff. Thomas F. Meagher strides onto Egan's beautifully wrought pages just as he lived—powerfully larger than life. A fascinating account of an extraordinary life." — Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat

"Thomas Meagher's is an irresistible story, irresistibly retold by the virtuosic Timothy Egan . . . A gripping, novelistic page-turner." — Wall Street Journal

"An old-fashioned tale of tall talk, high ideals,and irresistible appeal . . . You will not read a historical thriller like this all year . . . [Egan] is a master storyteller." —Boston Globe
"Egan has a gift for sweeping narrative . . . and he has a journalist's eye for the telltale detail . . . This is masterly work." — New York Times Book Review


In this exciting and illuminating work, National Book Award winner Timothy Egan delivers a story, both rollicking and haunting, of one of the most famous Irish Americans of all time. A dashing young orator during the Great Hunger of the 1840s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony for life. But two years later he was "back from the dead" and in New York, instantly the most famous Irishman in America. Meagher's rebirth included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Afterward, he tried to build a new Ireland in the wild west of Montana—a quixotic adventure that ended in the great mystery of his disappearance, which Egan resolves convincingly at last.

"This is marvelous stuff. Thomas F. Meagher strides onto Egan's beautifully wrought pages just as he lived—powerfully larger than life. A fascinating account of an extraordinary life." — Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat

"Thomas Meagher's is an irresistible story, irresistibly retold by the virtuosic Timothy Egan . . . A gripping, novelistic page-turner." — Wall Street Journal

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 14, 2015
    Those who have heard of Thomas Francis Meagher (1823–1867) will likely know him as a Union general in the Civil War, but Egan (The Big Burn), National Book Award–winner for The Worst Hard Time, moves Meagher convincingly into the ranks of patriots of both the U.S. and Ireland. With novelistic skill, Egan fashions a dizzying tableau of the life of his restless subject. Meagher was an Irish revolutionary who was condemned to death but then exiled to Tasmania. He then escaped to America, where he lived in New York City and became active in Irish-American politics. He was later appointed general of the Union army’s Irish Brigade (which helped knit oft-scorned Irish immigrants into the American fabric) and became a heroic war leader, before becoming lieutenant governor of the Montana Territory. Egan also reexamines evidence about Meagher’s death in Montana, convincingly concluding that he was assassinated by frontier vigilantes resentful of his determination to create the rule of law. As history, Egan’s book is solid; as storytelling, it’s captivating. The work adds little to the broader picture of American history—it focuses on the scenes in which Meagher participated, and those have been exhaustively covered elsewhere—but it provides an impressive biography of a distinctive Irish-American figure, the patriot of two countries, faithful to each to his last. Agent: Carol Mann, Carol Mann Agency.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2016

    Egan's biography of Irish revolutionary Thomas Francis Meagher (1823-67) illustrates a singularly Irish-American story. In outlining Meagher's life, Egan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the National Book Award winner The Worst Hard Time, seeks to demonstrate how Meagher's experience was emblematic of Irish immigrants' spirit and resolve. Meagher was born in a well-to-do family in Ireland but was deeply empathetic toward the plight of the Irish poor, having lived through the Great Famine in the 1840s. After a failed uprising against the English, Meagher was banished to a penal colony in Tasmania, Australia. He escaped to the United States and took up the cause of freedom, identifying with the new country's anti-British attitudes. Leading the Irish Brigade in the Civil War, Meagher fought in some of the bloodiest battles, including Bull Run in 1861. He survived the war and was appointed governor of Montana territory where he hoped to create a "New Ireland." His death by drowning in 1867 remains a mystery. VERDICT This important account is an excellent choice for all readers, especially those interested in the contributions of the Irish to U.S. history. [See Prepub Alert, 10/5/15.]--Barrie Olmstead, Sacramento P.L.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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