Michael L. Mullan, a professor of sociology at Swarthmore College, who holds PhDs in both sociology and history, has produced an interesting study of Irish immigrants to Philadelphia. When this book appeared it aroused a great deal of interest among scholars of Irish-America as the title seemingly suggests that its subject parallels or even updates the seminal work of Dennis Clark, The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience, first published in 1973.

Mullan, however, explains at the outset that his purpose is to discuss the evolution of “a Gaelic colony organized around the ethnic closure and a certain opposition to existing norms and integrative processes” in Philadelphia at the turn of the twentieth century (1–2). Mullan employs sociological terminology and categories in a historical context as he examines four major examples of “public spheres” in which the Irish immigrants to Philadelphia operated (some of which are still...

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