As a history buff, I was ecstatic when Darkest Hour came out. Gary Oldman’s performance brought life into Winston Churchill again and the cinematography and editing provided the adrenaline and fear needed when dealing with a foe like the Nazis. However, the ending left me wanting it to continue and include the Battle of Britain. This is partially because it is the natural continuation of the story started in Darkest Hour, but also because it would provide an in-depth look at the international dimension of the battle.
Easter 1916 the Irish Rebellion by Charles Townshend. Published in 2015 by Penguin
I’m going to start this review with a warning: Charles Townshend is one of my favorite historians. I have read few historians who can take complicated messes and break them down into short, easy to understand chapters within a chapter, while also providing keen analysis and insight in a mostly unbiased way. Additionally, his book, the Rising, may or may not have saved my ass when writing my graduate paper.
There are few men who participated in the Anglo-Irish War and the Irish Civil War who have as complicated a legacy as Eamon de Valera. He was a mathematics professor, last man to surrender during Easter Rising, leader of the Dáil and the IRA, instigator of the anti-treaty movement, political outcast, and Taoiseach, and, finally, president of Ireland. He did more to shape the Irish constitution and its relations with both North Ireland and England than any other single person. His decisions didn’t always make sense and he hurt his own legacy as much as it was twisted over the trauma of the civil war and his lengthy presidency. However, it is his legacy and the mythos that surrounded him that makes him an interesting historical figure to study. I will discuss his life and legacy in two different posts. This first post will discuss de Valera’s leadership during the Anglo-Irish and Civil War and the second post will de Valera’s presidency and later period of his life.
Eamon de Valera: A Will to Power by Ronan Fanning. Published in 2015 by Faber & Faber
Because of his many controversial decisions made during the rebellion, civil war, and his long presidency, it is hard to find an objective biography on Eamon de Valera. However, Fanning’s biography is the fairest and kindest book I’ve read on the Long Fellow.
I have recently finished R. F. Foster’s book Modern Ireland 1600-1972 and it got me thinking about land distribution during and after conflict.
In Ireland, Cromwell targeted the land once owned by those who rebelled. This happened to be the elite of Irish society and he redistributed the larger tracts to his followers and Anglo-Irish as well as small tracts of land to Catholics who swore fealty to the crown. The Protestant population was always a minority within Ireland, but because of the land they owned and the favor they received from England, they were able to build a Protestant Ascendancy whereas the Catholics remained poor farmers or out migrated.
Modern Ireland 1600-1972 by R. F. Foster. Published in 1990 by Penguin Books
This book is a concise review of the growth of modern Ireland from 1600 to 1972 that could be divided into two separate books. The first half is an economic and social study of an agricultural society and the second half is a review of how Eamon DeValera shaped Irish history.