Ireland, 1912 – 1985 is a wonderfully opinionated, highly entertaining and deeply erudite history of Ireland from the beginning of the Home Rule Crisis to the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
It is certainly the best single volume history of 20th century Ireland. Each chapter contains much that is novel and insightful even for those familiar with the periods under discussion. The author’s comparisons of Ireland to other countries on the periphery of Europe which obtained independence at about the same time, such as Finland and Poland, lifts the book out of any risk of parochialism: This approach places Irish history in its European context and allows for a more clear sighted assessment of what we, as a nation, can be proud of as well as what we have failed at and where we should be ashamed. Prof Lee is scathing in his judgements of the lazy and stupid, from political leaders through academics to journalists, but is highly sympathetic to those ordinary people, particularly Northern nationalists, who have found themselves on the losing side of history.
A work of genius.
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