History’s Erratics

Irish Catholic Dissidents and the Transformation of American Capitalism, 1870-1930
Author: David M. Emmons
Reinterpreting the Irish Catholic working-class experience at a pivotal time in US history
Cloth – $125
Paper – $38
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 10/22/2024
Cloth: 10/22/2024
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About the Book

As Ice Age glaciers left behind erratics, so the external forces of history tumbled the Irish into America. Existing both out of time and out of space, a diverse range of these Roman-Catholic immigrants saw their new country in a much different way than did the Protestants who settled and claimed it. These erratics chose backward looking tradition and independence over assimilation and embraced a quintessentially Irish form of subversiveness that arose from their culture, faith, and working-class outlook. David M. Emmons draws on decades of research and thought to plumb the mismatch of values between Protestant Americans hostile to Roman Catholicism and the Catholic Irish strangers among them. Joining ethnicity and faith to social class, Emmons explores the unique form of dissidence that arose when Catholic Irish workers and their sympathizers rejected the beliefs and symbols of American capitalism.

A vibrant and original tour de force, History’s Erratics explores the ancestral roots of Irish nonconformity and defiance in America.

About the Author

David M. Emmons is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Montana. His books include The Butte Irish: Class and Ethnicity in an American Mining Town, 1875–1925 andBeyond the American Pale: The Irish in the West, 1845–1910.

Also by this author

The Butte Irish cover



“This book is remarkably vivid and a delight to read. Emmons’s key contribution is to place anti-Catholicism and the resulting Protestant-Catholic division at the center of his analyses of labor, immigration, Irish nationalism, and a host of other issues. A major achievement.”--David Brundage, author of Irish Nationalists in America: The Politics of Exile, 1798–1998

“Judging from his brilliant treatment of the Irish in Butte, Montana, David Emmons has produced another masterpiece of Irish American history. Deeply personal, forthright, and engaging, the product of a lifetime of research and thought, History’s Erratics will enrage neoliberals and revisionists, which is the highest form of praise I can bestow.”--Kerby A. Miller, author of Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America