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Making Sense of the Molly Maguires
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Twenty Irish immigrants, suspected of comprising a secret terrorist organization called the Molly Maguires, were executed in Pennsylvania in the 1870s for the murder of sixteen men. Ever since, there has been enormous disagreement over who the Molly Maguires were, what they did, and why they did it, as virtually everything we now know about the Molly Maguires is based on hostile descriptions of their contemporaries. Arguing that such sources are inadequate to serve as the basis for a factual narrative, Making Sense of the Molly Maguires examines the ideology behind contemporary evidence to explain how and why a particular meaning came to be associated with the Molly Maguires in Ireland and Pennsylvania. At the same time, this work examines new archival evidence from Ireland that establishes that the American Molly Maguires were a rare transatlantic strand of the violent protest endemic in the Irish countryside. Combining social and cultural history, Making Sense of the Molly Maguires offers a new explanation of who the Molly Maguires were, as well as why people wrote and believed such curious things about them. In the process, it vividly retells one of the classic stories of American labour and immigration.
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About the Author

Kevin Kenny is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.

Reviews

Professor Kenny's scholarly work is a valuable addition to the literature on the Molly Maguires and an aid to understanding this tragic episode in the history of Irish-Ammerican immigrant labour. Seanchas Ard Mhacha: Journal of the Armagh Diocesan Historical Society This terrific book adds much to our understanding of the Molly Maguires and provides details about the social and ethnic landscapes of eastern Pennsylvania. It also sheds new light on how many Irish Americans understood Catholicism. American Historical Review Kevin Kenny weighs in with what seems like the definitiveword on the Molly Maguires ... his treatment of the Mollies is thoroughly researched and neatly balanced ... His excavation beneath the mythical qualities of the Molly Maguires is likely to be the standard work for some time. Labor Studies Journal

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