In Timothy Egan’s The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary that Became an American Hero, the author traces the life of Thomas Francis Meagher, who grew up on the Emerald Isle where he and his people suffered at the hands of the Crown. Hardened by adversity and determined not to be a victim of injustice, Meagher fought for Ireland’s independence and, convicted of treason, was exiled to Australia to serve a life sentence. Not content, he attempted a daring escape and made his way to America as the Civil War approached. Meagher joins the Union and, despite facing prejudice, fought with distinction. After the war, he made powerful enemies as the territorial governor of Montana. Would his luck continue?
The Immortal Irishman is the incredible true story of a man who was able to outtalk and outsmart his detractors at the drop of a hat. The book is well-written, engaging, and full of intrigue. To Egan’s credit, the volume is well-researched and rich with historical detail. Meagher’s life reads like a work of fiction because of his uncanny ability to survive in spite of impossible odds.
There is one glaring weakness in the narrative, and that is the author’s antipathy toward religion. Although the anger toward the Crown is understandable and perhaps warranted, the cheap shots against faith are troubling.
All in all, The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary that Became an American Hero, is a worthy read.