NEW BOOK: From the ‘Troubles’ to Trumpism – Ireland and America, 1960–2023

By Stephen Watt | Anthem Press | September 2024

Delves into the past to illuminate the present, using literature and historical insights to understand the complex relationship between Ireland and the United States and its implications for modern politics.

In Shakespeare Our Contemporary (1964), Polish critic Jan Kott defines one purpose of scholarship in the humanities that summarises the chief aim of this project: ‘The writing of history and, above all, literary criticism can, and must, always be understood as an attempt to find in the past aspects of human experience that can shed light on the meaning of our own times’. That is precisely what From the ‘Troubles’ to Trumpism: Ireland and America, 1960–2023 attempts to do. Aided by the insights of Irish and Northern Irish playwrights, poets and novelists, this book uses America’s historical relationship with Ireland and Northern Ireland as a means of understanding the rise of Trumpism and assessing its potential to incite a new American ‘Troubles’.

Three related aims are to demonstrate the interdependence of Ireland and the United States since the Famine in Ireland and the American Civil War in the nineteenth century; to delineate the political and economic obstacles in the latter decades of the last century that prevented this relationship from evolving into a more consequential partnership; and to identify the underappreciated leaders who played crucial roles in both the brokering of the Good Friday Agreement and the inception of a revised foreign policy.

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Stephen Watt is Provost Professor of English Emeritus and Former Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.