In truth, there may never be an actual consensus on what exactly should be included in history textbooks, much less on what stories should be left out and which ones should always be passed down from generation to generation in our classrooms. This debate has been the center of controversy for years and likely will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. In a lot of ways it’s a question of who you ask. I won’t pretend to have the answers here today – my background and personal perspectives don’t really garner a full fledged op-ed on the subject, though I will say it would have made my public education a whole lot more interesting to learn and read about more people like me, of my same ethnicity and heritage.
Por eso it was a true pleasure reviewing this month’s featured book The Irish Soldiers of Mexico by Michael Hogan, published May of this year by Fondo Editorial Universitario in cooperation with Intercambio Press and Createspace. This treasure of a book, really a pleasure to read with all of the vivid imagery created by Hogan’s craft for the written word, tells the story of the Irishmen who immigrated to the New World during the Great Famine in the 1840’s, first to enlist in the US army and later to join forces with Mexico to protect that country from American invasion, when they found out Mexico was a Catholic country like their own. These brave men formed los San Patricios Battalion and adopted Mexico as their new country, fighting courageously alongside Mexican nationals, ultimately being captured and hung by American forces in what Hogan describes as a “shameful episode in U.S. history.” The author of 18 books and Ph.D. in Latin American Studies, Dr. Hogan spent six years researching the story of los San Patricios to bring their stories to life in this book.
Their story is one of courage and tragedy that very fittingly brings to light the importance of sharing the histories of all people. Whatever your opinion of los San Patricios after reading The Irish Soldiers of Mexico the one thing you can be certain of is that you won’t want to put this book down. For me, it was a story I wish would have been brought into my life much earlier.
About the Book
The Irish Soldiers of Mexico sold out four editions in English and two editions in Spanish from 1997 to 2001. It has been the basis of an MGM feature film and two documentaries; it has also been used in many history classes both in the United States and abroad. Includes new historical material such as the location of what purported to be a death certificate for John Riley located in a church in Veracruz. The edition includes updated “After the War” and “Commemorations” sections. Many positive changes in public perception of the San Patricios have taken place since the first publication of this book in 1997. In addition, there have been a number of new vehicles for dissemination of the history, not the least of which was the production of “One Man’s Hero,” starring Tom Berenger, three novels on the San Patricios, a new sculpture in Mexico City of John Riley donated by the people of Ireland, and the Chieftains new CD with songs commemorating the Irish battalion.
About the Author
Michael Hogan lives in Colonia Providencia, Guadalajara, México, with his wife Lucinda Mayo, the internationally known fabric artist. Born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1943, he is the author of sixteen books, including a collection of short stories, six books of poetry, collected essays on teaching in Latin America, a novel, and a history of the Irish battalion in Mexico which formed the basis for an MGM movie starring Tom Berenger. His work has appeared in many journals such as the Paris Review, the Harvard Review, Z-Magazine, Political Affairs and the Monthly Review. He is a consultant to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Schools in Latin America. As an author he has received wide recognition for his work, including a PEN Award, two Pushcart Prizes, an NEA fellowship, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the gold medal of the Mexican Geographical Society. Dr. Hogan received his B.A. and MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He holds a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from the University of Guadalajara and the Institute of Advanced Studies. For many years he worked as an international educator and is currently a consultant for the College Board’s programs overseas. He has given workshops and presentations at over sixty conferences in 36 countries.
Book Tour Schedule
Mon Aug 22 Condor Musings (Author Guest Post)
Tues Aug 23 Latino Book Examiner (Author Q&A)
Wed Aug 24 Dulce Bread &Book Shop (Review)
Thurs Aug 25 Juan of Words ( Review)
Fri Aug 26 New Latina (Author Q&A)
Mon Aug 29 Vida de Oro (Author Interview)
Tues Aug 30 La Bloga (Author Guest Post)
Wed Aug 31 Franky Benitez (Review)
Thurs Sep 1 Latina Book Club (Review)
Fri Sep 2 Chica Writer (Review)
This post is an official tour stop of The Irish Soldiers of Mexico Condor Book Tour
FTC Disclosure: Juan of Words received a free copy of the book from the author as part of a Condor Book Tour. Juan of Words was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are our own.
People often ask me why I’m so interested in Spanish and Latino culture. I’m not really sure myself, but maybe perhaps it’s because I was one of los San Patricios…
Excellent post, Juan! When I’ve introduced this book and its history to Latinos, it always brings about a new awakening. It’s a good piece of history and Mr. Hogan does a great job of explaining.
I had the pleasure of having Michael present the history and similarities to a Hispanic Marketing group this past spring. It was very well received and inspiring.
In the current global community the expectation should be that history be experienced from as many perspectives as possible. Let us take advantage of the connection we have to diverse stories, through the internet, to fully capture ALL sides of the history, her-story, cultural-stories, etc. Reaching consensus, or not, should not be an excuse for not making use of such rich and varied perspectives.
Shannon: Thanks for checking in. I have listed all the members of the San Patrcios Battalion in my book. You might check to see if you are a descendant of one of them.
Joe: So good to see Phoenix checking in! We still have folks from the Hispanic Marketing group checking in at our Irish page at
http://www.facebook.com/IrishMex Thanks for getting the word out.
Teresa: I agree absolutely. As Octavio Paz once wrote, “I look forward to the day when the U.S. is a PART of America, nothing more, nothing less.” There are many stories of the American Hemisphere y todos somos americanos.
Juan of Words: A very thoughtful and incisive perspective on the book. Muchas gracias. Te mando un abrazo muy fuerte ddesde Guadalajara.
As a descendant of Thomas Cassidy one of the original San Patricos I am in great debt to Dr Michael Hogan for his insight and years of research that makes Thomas Cassidy death not in vain. My 25 years of travel in Mexico and marriage into the culture has taught me that the journey to find my own family history is a journey that only Michael Hogan can give justice to you in words..It is more then a book for me it is the past coming together with the future
Thanks you, Shaun. It is wonderful how you have honored your San Patrcio ancester and how you continue to promote and disseminate the history. Felicidades.
Juan of Words: Several people sent me emails today saying how much they enjoyed your review. I hope you will post it on Amazon as wel where it will have an even larger audience.Also, I want everyone to know that the book is also available in Spanish (Los Soldados Irlandeses de Mexico) in case one has a reletive prefers to read in that language.It was translated by Clever Chavez Marin who is a Brigadier General (Ret.) in Mexico.
Apologies for the typos. Texting on the run…Here si the link to the Spanish edition on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Soldados-Irlandeses-Mexico-Spanish-ebook/dp/B004PYDSC4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2
Thank you all for the wonderful comments. It’s so great to know I am not the only one who appreciated this wonderful book about such an important part of Mexican history. A very special thanks to Dr. Michael Hogan for stopping by and leaving his thoughts and insight on reader comments. I’ll work on getting this review up on Amazon as soon as possible 🙂
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