Cover image for Irish on the inside : in search of the soul of Irish America
Irish on the inside : in search of the soul of Irish America
Hayden, Tom.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Verso, 2001.
Physical Description:
vii, 312 pages ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E184.I6 H39 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E184.I6 H39 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E184.I6 H39 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Tom Hayden first realized he was 'Irish on the inside' when he heard civil rights marchers in Northern Ireland singing 'We Shall Overcome' in 1969. Though his great-grandparents had been forced to emigrate to the US in the 1850s, Hayden's parents erased his Irish heritage in the quest for respectability.

In this passionate book he explores the losses wrought by such conformism. Assimilation, he argues, has led to high rates of schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism and domestic violence within the Irish community. Today's Irish-Americans, Hayden contends, need to re-inhabit their history, to recognize that assimilation need not entail submission. By recognizing their links to others now experiencing the prejudice once directed at their ancestors, they can develop a sense of themselves that is both specific and inclusive: 'The survival of a distinct Irish soul is proof enough that Anglo culture will never fully satisfy our needs. We have a unique role in reshaping American society to empathize with the world's poor, for their story is the genuine story of the Irish.'

Author Notes

Thomas Emmet Hayden was born in Royal Oak, Michigan on December 11, 1939. He received a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1961 and did graduate work there in 1962 and 1963. While a student, he was a co-founder of the Students for a Democratic Society, participated in sit-in protests and voter registration drives in the South, and joined the Freedom Riders on interstate buses in the South. In 1968, he helped plan antiwar protests in Chicago to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, which resulted in a riot. He was a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial.

He was a peace activist who went to Hanoi and escorted American prisoners of war home from Vietnam. In 1974, he and his then wife Jane Fonda traveled across Vietnam and talked to people about their lives after years of war. They produced a documentary film entitled Introduction to the Enemy. He eventually became a politician and author. He was an assemblyman in the California Legislature in Sacramento from 1982 to 1992 and a state senator from 1993 to 2000. He wrote several books including The Other Side, Rebellion in Newark, Trial, Reunion, and Listen Yankee!: Why Cuba Matters. He died on October 23, 2016 at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hayden, a leading student activist in the 1960s and now a California state senator, writes about finding his Irish roots in a book that will have many Irish-Americans up in arms with its take-no-prisoners, leftist spin on Irish history. But he makes some very good cultural points. He speaks, for instance, of the "colonization of the mind" and how this affected the Irish under British rule and as immigrants in America, which largely started with the potato famine of the 1840s. Hayden's humor is mordant and dry as he takes on such "experts" on the Irish as former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who thought the Irish lacked intellectual curiosity), and former governor Pete Wilson of California, who boasted of his Irishness while running anti-immigrant ads. He speaks of growing up in an Irish-Catholic family which could have come out of a Eugene O'Neill drama; his admiration for John and Robert Kennedy, particularly the thoughtful, saturnine Bobby who emerged after the death of JFK. Hayden then goes on to report on everything Irish in America, from the Molly Maguires and the "forgotten" San Patricios, to the politics of the wild Fenian revolutionary, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa. He then gives his spin on the struggle in Northern Ireland and how it was sabotaged for years by such Irish-Catholic luminaries as Tip O'Neill, Ted Kennedy and former House Speaker Tom Foley. Some of his points will outrage the Irish establishment in this country, but Hayden makes a strong case for his leftist interpretation of Irish and Irish-America history.. (Oct. 25) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

During the 1960s, Hayden was in the forefront of social justice activism, but the conflict in his ancestral homeland was not part of his agenda. Hayden's family had long ago suppressed its Irish identity to merge into Anglo-American society. That changed in 1968 when civil rights marches in Northern Ireland awakened in the young radical an awareness of his ethnic identity, and later friendships with Northern Irish activists Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness revealed the connection of Old World struggles with those in the New. This work is both a memoir and an examination of Irish and Irish American history. Unfortunately, much of Hayden's analysis is overly simplistic, accepting as self-evident claims the text does not otherwise support. For example, several times he asserts without qualification that the Irish Famine was "the greatest upheaval of nineteenth century Europe" conveniently ignoring such disasters as the Napoleonic Wars or the Revolution of 1848. As a personal memoir, however, this is a revealing look at Hayden's youth and his journey of self-discovery. Recommended for larger public libraries. Christopher Brennan, SUNY at Brockport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.