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Description - Emigrants and Exiles by Kerby A. Miller

From the 1660s to the early 1900s, no fewer than seven million people emigrated from Ireland to North America. This vast flow at once reflected and compelled enormous social changes on both sides of the Atlantic. In this book Miller chronicles the momentous causes of the Irish emigration and its far-reaching impact - on the people themselves, on the land they left behind, and on the new one they came to. Drawing on enormous original research, Miller focuses on the thought and behaviour of the "ordinary" Irish emigrants, Catholic and Protestant, as revealed in their personal letters, diaries, journals, and memoirs as well as in their songs, poems, and folklore. Monumental in scope, Emigrants and Exiles embraces all the successive waves of Irish emigration, illuminating their differences as well as their common bonds.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780195051872
ISBN-10: 0195051874
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 32mm)
Pages: 704
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 1-Jan-1988
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Emigrants and Exiles by Kerby A. Miller

Book Reviews - Emigrants and Exiles by Kerby A. Miller

US Kirkus Review » A scholarly study in great depth and detail of the enormous waves of emigration from Ireland, mostly to Canada and the US between the early 17th century and the birth of the Irish Free State in 1922. In that time as many as seven million people moved across the Atlantic in search of a decent life, a tremendous number to leave such a small country. At times the emigration hemorrhage was so great as to leave some parts of Ireland virtually empty of people. To a much greater degree than emigres from the continent, Miller says, the Irish were afflicted by a powerful, often debilitating homesickness. Most viewed themselves as permanent, unwilling exiles from their beloved homeland, forced out by the malevolent British occupiers who had reduced the Irish people to penury. For many emigres, says Miller, there were other reasons. One was Irish inheritance customs which decreed that each son must inherit an equal portion of the family farm, thus ensuring that the plots of land became ever smaller. One or two sons were chosen to emigrate so the others would inherit enough land to live on. Again, contrary to the stereotype of the emigrant as poverty-stricken Catholics, in some periods they were middle-class Ulster Protestants or relatively well-off Catholics from the south who, in the best capitalist tradition, were seeking a way to make a bigger buck. Miller divides the emigration into three waves: prior to the potato famine, during the famine of 1840-45, and from the end of the famine to independence. The causes, motivations and personality types in each wave were quite different. Miller also examines how the Irish fared in the US and finds that large numbers did not do much better than if they had remained at home (many hated their new country). He follows them into the second generation and traces their rise above prejudice and poverty and into politics, business and the professions. Miller used original research sources, largely the letters home and the journals kept by the emigrants; excerpts from these lend the work a poignancy that nothing else could. Miller, an American, learned enough of the Irish language to be able to interpret for the reader the mores of Irish peasant life, thus putting the emigrations into a cultural context that makes them more comprehensible. A sensitive interpreter, his descriptions of that lifestyle are detailed and fascinating. A solid, well-written piece of scholarship that provides a significant illumination of an important historical movement. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Kerby A. Miller

Kerby A. Miller is Associate Professor of History at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Books By Kerby A. Miller

Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan by Kerby A. Miller
Hardback, March 2003
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