Peter Quinn Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Peter Quinn Banished Children of Eve: A Novel of Civil War New York

Born in 1947, Quinn is an American novelist and speech-writer.

Set in New York during the Civil War, Banished Children of Eve (1994) is an account of the city's economic and racial tensions at the time, which culminated in the bloody Draft Riots of 1863. Started by a predominantly poor Irish mob angry over the imposition of the nation's first military draft, the Riots quickly escalated, lasting five days and resulting in at least 119 deaths. Many of the victims were working-class blacks, largely targeted by the Irish mobs as their primary competition for low-paying jobs. Using an episodic narrative structure and brief character sketches to tell his story, Quinn ultimately offers several suggestions as to why social protest often degrades into naked acts of violent hatred. Kevin Cullen has described Banished Children of Eve as a "compelling, textured account of how those at the bottom inevitably turn on one another rather than join forces to challenge whoever or whatever it is that has kept them down."