The Fighting Irish: The Story of the Extraordinary Irish Soldier

Tim Newark, Author, Timothy Newark, Author
Tim Newark. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1250-01882-3
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 03/05/2013
Paperback - 978-1-78033-221-5
Open Ebook - 198 pages - 978-1-78033-511-7
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-250-01881-6
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Irish soldiers constitute “the largest group of servicemen born outside the United States” to receive the Medal of Honor (many have also won Britain’s highest honor, the Victoria Cross), and while Newark’s exhaustive chronicle of their exploits on the battlefield makes that superlative no surprise, the veteran military historian is less successful in uncovering the complex origins of the trope of the fighting Irish. His investigation into Gaelic bellicosity mostly takes the form of description, and Newark’s (Highlander: The History of the Legendary Highland Soldier) continuous talk of the “fight for freedom” quickly becomes anodyne. But his wide-ranging history does showcase the remarkably diverse causes that Irish forces have rallied behind. They dressed in red while furthering Britain’s Victorian empire, but they wore Union Blue during the American Civil War. They’ve fought for South American rebel groups, South Africa’s Boers, and as mercenaries in the Congo. Irish deserters from the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War were considered by Mexico to be “national heroes,” and modern warriors continue to put bite to bark in the harrowing hills of Afghanistan. Newark’s newest is no grand, rousing narrative, but it is a testament to Irish soldiers throughout modern history. 8-page b&w photo insert. Agent: Andrew Lownie, Andrew Lownie Literary Agency (U.K.). (Mar.)
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