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Book Launch: “When the Irish Invaded Canada” with Christopher Klein

April 8, 2019 @ 6:30 pm

When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedomwhich will be released by Doubleday Books on March 12, 2019—is a popular narrative history that tells the outlandish, untold story of a band of Irish American revolutionaries who tried to free Ireland by invading Canada in the years following the Civil War. By the time that this series of five attacks—known collectively as the Fenian Raids—began in 1866, Ireland had been Britain’s unwilling colony for seven hundred years. Thousands of Civil War veterans who had fled to the United States rather than perish in Ireland’s potato famine still considered themselves Irishmen first, Americans second. With the tacit support of the U.S. government and inspired by a previous generation of successful American revolutionaries, this motley group—including a one-armed war hero, an English spy infiltrating rebel forces, and a radical who staged his own funeral—managed to seize a piece of Canada, if only for three days. Inspiring, lively, and often undeniably comic, this is a story of resistance and fighting for what’s right in the face of impossible odds.

CHRISTOPHER KLEIN is the author of three books, including Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero. A frequent contributor to, Christopher has also written for The Boston Globe, The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Harvard Magazine,, and He lives in Andover, Massachusetts.

Early Praise for When the Irish Invaded Canada

“Christopher Klein brings to life an almost unbelievable—and yet completely forgotten—episode from post-Civil War America. If you’re wondering why the Irish would invade Canada, the answers are here in this exciting, well-told narrative filled with colorful characters.”—Terry Golway, author of Frank and Al and Machine Made

“Christopher Klein has written one of the great untold stories of Irish, Canadian, and American history. He tells how a ragged band of Irish Fenians, inspired by a one-armed general and a Famine immigrant, set their sights on Canada and ignited a massive crisis in Canada and the US. This forgotten revolution shaped both countries to the present day. Vivid, dramatic, and insightful, Klein delivers a book stranger than fiction but more gripping and exciting.”—Niall O’Dowd, author of Lincoln and the Irishand founder of IrishCentral

“From today’s perspective the invasions of Canada by Irish-Americans in 1866 and 1870 to strike a blow for Irish independence by attacking an outpost of the British Empire seems to have the qualities of a comic opera. But these ‘Fenians’ were deadly serious, and though they failed to achieve their goal in 1870 their example helped inspire the movement that led to eventual success a half century later. Christopher Klein’s fresh telling of this story is an important landmark in both Irish and American history.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom and The War That Forged a Nation

“This is a surprising and fascinating book. With a great eye for detail and illustrative flourish, Klein tells the riveting story of brave men who believed deeply in the cause of Irish independence, and were willing to lay down their lives to achieve it. At turns heroic, bumbling, comic, idealistic, prideful, pigheaded, and star crossed, these men and their dramatic actions are an important, though all but forgotten, part of the American and Irish experience.”—Eric Jay Dolin, author of Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates

“When the Irish Invaded Canada is a sincere and eloquent book, as Christopher Klein tells an heroic and tragic story from a more innocent, less cynical era—when Irish Americans fought and died, not for profits and plunder, but for Irish democracy and freedom from the world’s most powerful empire.”—Kerby Miller, author of Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America

“Hapless, often exasperating but somehow inspiring, these Irish freedom fighters set off on their quixotic quest to leverage the conquest of Canada into independence for their beloved homeland. Christopher Klein finds the genuine honor in this foolhardy exploit and also the humor. Any book that contains the following authentic historical quotation deserves to be read: ‘I regret to inform you that you are not going to be hanged.’ A fine forgotten slice of Irish rebellion that should appeal to oppressed people everywhere, and to those oppressors finally ready to seek salvation.”—Richard Zacks, New York Times bestselling author of Island of Vice and Chasing the Last Laugh



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The American Irish Historical Society
The American Irish Historical Society is a cultural institution featuring a library and archive, public arts programming, and events space.
991 Fifth Avenue
New York
United States

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