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Making Sense of the Molly Maguires - Kevin Kenny

Making Sense of the Molly Maguires

Hardcover Published: 12th February 1998
ISBN: 9780195106640
Number Of Pages: 368

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Twenty Irish immigrants, suspected of belonging to 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 the 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 book 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 labor and immigration.

Industry Reviews

"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 "This is a rich and subtly crafted interpretation of the Molly Maguires and their world, and the reader benefits from the prodigious research Kenny carried out...Kenny's definitive study presents a nuanced vision of the Molly Maguires' lives and the world they lived in; and his book sheds a remarkable light more generally on labour struggles in the mid-19th century."--Labor History "Kevin Kenny's Making Sense of the Molly Maguires is easily the best book ever written about the subject. It is meticulously researched, carefully argued, and well written, and it brings all of the events to life...His book is a story of the hardships of the mines, of the power of the owners and their paid police forces, and most especially of the power of the media to portray the events in such a way as to inflame persons around the nation. And this book is about the way we write history...The controversy over the Molly Maguires will not end with Kenny's book. Some will see them as brutal terrorists and others as martyred heroes of the labor movement. But no one will ever again be able to think or write seriously about the 1870s violence in the anthracite coal region [of eastern Pennsylvania] without reading this stunning volume."--Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University, in a review for the History Book Club, January 1998 "Until now the Molly Maguires have dwelled in the half-light of myth and propaganda. No longer. In Making Sense of the Molly Maguires, Kevin Kenny dispels the shadows. Kenny gives us the flesh-and-blood men, their passions and grievances, the crimes they committed and the crimes committed against them. This is a first-class work of scholarship that unfolds with the power of a detective novel. Along with making sense of the Molly Maguires, Kenny has produced an outstanding piece of historical enlightenment. He made me think, and he made me weep. I am in awe of his achievement."--Peter Quinn, author of Banished Children of Eve "After thorough research in both Irish and American sources, Kevin Kenny has produced by far the best and the most sensitive treatment of the Molly Maguires, the Irish-born anthracite miners who battled corporate capitalism and its legal and clerical allies in Gilded-Age Pennsylvania. Kenny's book does far more than make sense of this important and tragic episode, for his is a very major contribution to our general understanding of working-class, immigration, and Irish-American history."--Kerby Miller, University of Missouri-Columbia "Making Sense of the Molly Maguires is destined to become a definitive work on the subject and one that this reviewer recommends highly."--Thomas Larkin, An Scathan "Kenny's treatment of the Mollies is thoroughly researched and neatly balanced...Kenny has assimilated and built on a century of scholarship. His excavation beneath the mythical qualities of the Molly Maguires is likely to be the standard work for some time."--Labor Studies Journal "Kevin Kenny's book plunges right into this complex amalgam of events and perceptions to understand both sides of the Mollys...Kenny's monograph is well reasoned and effectively constructed...[T]his study gives the Molly Maguires their proper place in late-nineteenth-century America, not as devils or angels, but as real men engaged in real and often violent struggles for a living and a life."--The North Carolina Historical Review "Intended as a book about the Molly Maguires both as an organization and as a symbol of unionism, Kenny tries first to understand how community was constituted among Irish-American miners. He then seeks to understand how the violent murders committed by a secret organization came to stand as a middle-class symbol of the dangers of unions and Irish workers...Kenny has demonstrated how the exploration of memory can help broaden the scope of labor history."--Reviews in American History "[A] remarkably fine work of historical research and analysis."--Thomas Flanagan, Los Angeles Times Book Review "Kevin Kenny has certainly done historical justice to his fascinating, if elusive, topic...[O]ne should salute a scholar who takes on a controversial subject and, with sober mastery, rips off the veils of legend."--Michael Kazin, Washington Post Book World "A convincing and well-written book, Kenny's work clearly establishes the ways and means used to 'demonize' the Molly Maguires and through them the Irish and trade union movement...He 'makes sense' of the Molly Maguires and, in doing so, the economic, social, and political forces surrounding them...He opens a new and rich perspective on a well-known event."--Robert D. Sampson for H-Labor "This is a thorough examination of the role of the Molly Maguires in the bitter struggle of working people to attain justice in 19th-Century USA and an incisive expose of the ruthless methods employed against all efforts to organize labor...It would be especially useful in a course that studies American resistance movements."--Anthony Garavente, California State University "[Kenny] has made sense of the Molly Maguires and...all historians of both American labour and Irish rural protest are in his debt. He has written a fine book."--Saothar "[The book] is a fascinating and compelling study which not alone contains a vivid account of the Molly Maguires, but also incorporates a sustained interpretation of the origins, ideology and broader importance of this shadowy grouping."--Immigrants and Minorities "Seldom have I read a book that does a better job than this one of unraveling popular mythology and clearing away the ambiguities surrounding a conplex and contentious topic. That it grew directly out of the author's Ph.D. thesis and will almost certainly be considered the standard work on the question for some time to come makes it all the more impressive."--Journal of American Ethnic History "The definitive word on the Molly Maguires...thoroughly researched and neatly balanced...Kenny has assimilated and built on a century of scholarship. His excavation beneath the mythical qualities of the Molly Maguires is likely to be the standard work for some time."--Errata "[A] well-balanced and well-researched study which substantially increases our understanding of this legendary group."--Pennsylvania History

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Abbreviations Used in Footnotesp. xi
Introductionp. 3
Whiteboys, Ribbonmen, and Molly Maguiresp. 13
The World of Anthracitep. 45
Enter the Molly Maguiresp. 73
The Rise of a Labor Movementp. 103
The Reading Railroad Takes Controlp. 131
The Return of the Molly Maguiresp. 157
Rough Justicep. 185
The Molly Maguires on Trialp. 213
Epiloguep. 277
Conclusionp. 285
Biographical Data on the Molly Maguiresp. 289
Geographical. Analysis of the Surnames of the Molly Maguiresp. 297
The Donegal and North-central Irish in the Anthracite Regionp. 303
Coffin Noticesp. 307
Two """"Molly Maguire"""" Balladsp. 311
Bibliographyp. 315
Indexp. 329
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195106640
ISBN-10: 0195106644
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 12th February 1998
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.77 x 16.51  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.68