Santa brought me three new Irish history books for Christmas. Two are 2007 titles about late 19th and early 20th century republican political agitation, which came from my wish list. The third book, selected by my wife, covers a range of topics from the 16th to 21st century.
The Princeton History of Modern Ireland
Edited by Richard Bourke & Ian McBride:
The book is divided into two sections, described by Bourke in the Introduction:
Part 1 contains six overarching narrative chapters dealing with the main developments in society and politics throughout the period covered by the book. The aim here is to present readers with an up-to-date rendition of the course of Irish history. Part 2 then focuses on topics and themes that played a peculiarly important role in the shaping of that trajectory. These chapters range from exercises in intellectual, cultural, and literary history to analyses of formatively significant subjects like religion, nationalism, empire, and gender.
This title won the 2009 NUI Centennial Prize for Irish History. McGee “argues that [the IRB] was never primarily an insurrectionary conspiracy; rather it was a popular fraternal organization and propagandistic body, committed to bringing about popular politicization in Ireland along republican lines,” according to publisher Four Courts Press.
Michael Davitt: freelance radical and frondeur
By Laurence Marley
Another title from Four Court Press. In a review for History Ireland, Seán O’Brien described the book as:
…the first substantial biography of Michael Davitt in 25 years and the only book to deal with all of the roles he assumed in public life. It presents Davitt as an ad hoc activist temporarily allied with a number of different movements but ultimately unable to maintain a lasting connection with any of them. Examining the details of the principled positions that led to his alienation from the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Parnellites, British labour and the House of Commons, the book makes a strong case for Davitt’s role as a kind of radical consultant, compelled to struggle by his ethical principles but unable to suppress them enough to remain loyal to an organisation.