Timothy Egan is adept at picking unusual and mostly unknown parts of American history and writing enlightening stories of everything from the Dust Bowl survivors to photographer Edward Curtis. Egan tells the story of Thomas Meager, an Irishman born in 1823 to a wealthy family, who eschewed a soft life to embrace the independence movement after being radicalized by the potato famine. Rising up against the British occupiers who favored the wealthy gentry over the starving peasants, he narrowly escaped a death sentence and was exiled to Tasmania. With his background as a gifted orator and possessing a keen intellect, he soon escaped and ended up in New York. When the American Civil War erupted, Meager realized a way to gather likeminded Irishmen into a fighting force that later could be used to return to Ireland to oust the British. When the war ended he fell into despair when his brigade failed to follow him into the fight against the British. As with many tales of Ireland, this one also ends in tragedy, but is nonetheless a fascinating story.— Deon Stonehouse
"An old-fashioned tale of tall talk, high ideals,and irresistible appeal . . . You will not read a historical thriller like this all year . . . [Egan] is a master storyteller." —Boston Globe
“Egan has a gift for sweeping narrative . . . and he has a journalist’s eye for the telltale detail . . . This is masterly work.” — New York Times Book Review
In this exciting and illuminating work, National Book Award winner Timothy Egan delivers a story, both rollicking and haunting, of one of the most famous Irish Americans of all time. A dashing young orator during the Great Hunger of the 1840s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony for life. But two years later he was “back from the dead” and in New York, instantly the most famous Irishman in America. Meagher’s rebirth included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Afterward, he tried to build a new Ireland in the wild west of Montana—a quixotic adventure that ended in the great mystery of his disappearance, which Egan resolves convincingly at last.
“This is marvelous stuff. Thomas F. Meagher strides onto Egan's beautifully wrought pages just as he lived—powerfully larger than life. A fascinating account of an extraordinary life.” — Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat
“Thomas Meagher’s is an irresistible story, irresistibly retold by the virtuosic Timothy Egan . . . A gripping, novelistic page-turner.” — Wall Street Journal
About the Author
TIMOTHY EGAN is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter and the author of eight other books, most recently The Immortal Irishman, a New York Times bestseller. His book on the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time, won a National Book Award for nonfiction. His account of photographer Edward Curtis, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, won the Carnegie Medal for nonfiction. He writes a biweekly opinion column for the New York Times.