By Robert Polner and Michael Tubridy

An Irish Passion for Justice reveals the life and work of Paul O'Dwyer, the Irish-born and quintessentially New York activist, politician, and lawyer who fought in the courts and at the barricades for the rights of the downtrodden and the marginalized throughout the 20th century.

Robert Polner and Michael Tubridy recount O'Dwyer's legal crusades, political campaigns, and civic interactions, deftly describing how he cut a principled and progressive path through New York City's political machinery and America's reactionary Cold War landscape. Polner and Tubridy's dynamic, penetrating depiction showcases O'Dwyer's consistent left-wing politics and defense of accused Communists in the labor movement, which exposed him to sharp criticism within and beyond the Irish-American community. Even so, his fierce beliefs, loyalty to his brother William, who was the city's mayor after World War II, and influence in Irish-American circles also inspired respect and support. Recognized by his gentle brogue and white pompadour, he fought for the creation of Israel, organized Black voters during the Civil Rights movement, and denounced the Vietnam War as an insurgent Democratic candidate for US Senate. Finally, he enlisted future president Bill Clinton to bring an end to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. As the authors demonstrate, O'Dwyer was both a man of his time and a politician beyond his years.

An Irish Passion for Justice tells an enthralling and inspiring New York immigrant story that uncovers how one person, shaped by history and community, can make a difference in the world by holding true to their ideals.

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Praise for the book:
      An engaging, eloquent, and enlightening biography of a giant of the modern progressive movement, Paul O'Dwyer. The authors give us the man in full—his abiding convictions, fearless advocacy for underdogs, and refusal to stray from ideals acquired in the revolutionary Ireland of his youth. When current actors have left the stage and the history of these times is written, it is O'Dwyer, the conscience of his city and, at times, his country, who will be remembered and revered.
    Peter Quinn, author of Looking for Jimmy 

    Paul O'Dwyer never forgot where he came from and that the purpose of law was to ensure justice, even for many of us without the usual funds. So tears and cheers are in order and here they are contained in this magnificent biography.
    Malachy McCourt, author of A Monk Swimming 

    An Irish Passion for Justice brilliantly details the life of a man of principle who passed through the Golden Door under Lady Liberty's torch. A defender of the underclass in courtrooms, marches, political campaigns, and government, Paul O'Dwyer had a quality glaringly missing in today's politics—a spine—to go along with integrity and heart. This is an excellent, and important, portrait.
    Denis Hamill, former columnist of New York Daily News 

    Polner and Tubridy deftly explain how Paul O'Dwyer helped desegregate New York's Stuyvesant Town before fair-housing laws existed, won in the Supreme Court the right of mainland Puerto Ricans to take voter literacy tests in Spanish, and represented McCarthy-era witchhunt targets and the antiwar Catholic Left. His courage and remarkable legal history will inspire everyone who fights for workers, the oppressed, and a fair society today.
    Franklin Siegel, CUNY School of Law 

    Paul O'Dwyer was an immigrant, a patriot, a dissenter, and an activist. His was a voice that could not be silenced. And in this fascinating new biography, this remarkable man and the causes he embraced are brought to life. Readers will come away wishing we had a Paul O'Dwyer today.
    Terry Golway, author of I Never Did Like Politics 

    Polner and Tubridy vividly portray the Paul O'Dwyer I came to know and admire through our mutual interest in addressing injustice in Northern Ireland. Engrossing from its first to its last pages, their biography demonstrates how even people like myself, though not sharing his left-wing political views, considered him a friend for an integrity and decency that extended beyond any one issue.
    Peter King, former US Representative from New York 

    Paul O'Dwyer's worldview, formed in Ireland and fortified in the United States, provides critical insights on twentieth-century ethnic New York. An Irish Passion for Justice aptly captures how a dynamic, socially conscious immigrant from rural Ireland could be relevant in the cut and thrust of New York City politics and society. Polner and Tubridy deserve much credit for this much-needed biography of one of the most important Irish Americans in recent history.
    Miriam Nyhan Grey, African American Irish Diaspora Network 

    Paul O'Dwyer exemplified the liberal and multi-ethnic politics of mid-century New York City, fighting for unions, free speech, Irish Republicanism, Zionism, and civil rights for Black Americans. In this deeply researched and well-written biography, Robert Polner and Michael Tubridy restore O'Dwyer to his proper place in the history of the city.
    Peter Eisenstadt, author of Rochdale Village 

About the Authors
Robert Polner is a public affairs officer at NYU, and a former reporter for New York Newsday. He is coauthor of The Man Who Saved New York (winner of the Empire State History Book Award) and Three Men in a Room.

Michael Tubridy is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Irish America and The Recorder. He writes about Irish and Irish-American history in his blog A Boat Against the Current.
ISBN13: 9781501773051
ISBN10: 1501773054
Publication date: 05/15/2024
Pages: 472


Irish American News

National Library of Ireland

American Irish Historical Society

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