Joseph Francis X. Armagh was thirteen years old when his mother died on the ship bearing them to America from the Potato Famine. At home the Catholic Irish were harassed by the hated Sassenagh, but in the strange new land, they were stripped of all dignity. Joe vows to assume financial responsibility for his brother and infant sister, entrusts them to a Catholic orphanage and painfully makes his way into a barbarically inhospitable and prejudiced pre-Civil War America. He is relentless in his climb upwards; self-pity is as repugnant to him as sentimentality, and compassion is an insult....
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