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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

‘Noble’ Nations, ‘Plebeian’ Nations

Andreas Hess
A comparative survey of the history of Catalonia, in its relations with Spain, and Scotland, in its relations with the United Kingdom, is erudite and eloquent, yet it fails to provide a balanced or convincing account of the recent rise of nationalist movements in either territory.
Jan 5, 2019, 11:14 AM
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Care and Control

Joseph Harbison
A comprehensive new history of Ireland’s largest hospital gives an account of its medieval beginnings and development through a period when the sick, who were also very often the poor, represented a category who should be cared for, but who were also often perceived as a threat.
Jan 5, 2019, 11:21 AM
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Crushing Democracy

Philip O’Connor
Probably no independence movement in history, anywhere, enjoyed the overwhelming democratic mandate of the First Dáil, which was suppressed by Britain. Yet curiously the meaning of that election and of its consequences continues to be raked over and disputed.
Jan 5, 2019, 11:42 AM
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Stoker’s Surprise Package

Martin Greene
The ‘Dracula’ author’s penultimate novel, published in 1909, is a rollicking tale of adventure, an excursion into science fiction which presciently foresees the future development of aerial warfare, an exercise in political utopianism and a vampire story which turns out to have no vampire.
Jan 5, 2019, 11:46 AM
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The Quest for the Celt

Michael Gibbons
A major archaeological study in 1930s Ireland carried out detailed measurement of a wide range of features from a representative sample of the population, with a particular focus on the shape and size of the Irish skull and its relationship to prevailing theories of racial descent and intellectual ability.
Jan 5, 2019, 11:51 AM
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Funny Ah! Aah!

Michael Hinds
To write comic fiction in a context where everything seems risible, to orchestrate chaos in the necessary fashion, you have to be incredibly smart, in the sense of that term as both verb and adjective. To be smart, your words also have to smart; to give pleasure, you must also bring pain.
Jan 5, 2019, 11:56 AM
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Nordy Noir Knocks at the Door

Sharon Dempsey
Anna Burns’s Booker success drew attention to fiction about the Troubles. What irked a little, says one writer, was the ignorance of the literary establishment, as if no one had written on the topic before. Much of that writing was done in genre fiction, which may be why they were unaware of it.
Jan 5, 2019, 12:03 PM
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Our Gods and Theirs

Patrick Claffey
Religious belief has the power to define, but also to divide peoples. While it can be seen as in some respects a retrogressive force, there is no basis for the secularist view that it is on the way out. As Régis Debray put it, ‘we can no more disinvent religion than we can the atom bomb’.
Jan 5, 2019, 12:08 PM
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An Unsinkable Woman

Robert O’Byrne
In 1922, the 50-year-old Katherine Everett was despatched to see if anything could be saved from her godmother, Lady Ardilaun’s, property Macroom House. The story of her journey, the last 70 miles of it by bicycle, serves as a counterpoint to the blustery narratives of Ernie O’Malley and Tom Barry.
Jan 5, 2019, 12:25 PM
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A Moment of Slackness

Pauline Hall
The characters in a 1946 collection of Mary Lavin’s stories, now republished, are cramped by the pressure to be respectable, to be of account in a narrow world, heavy with judgement. Power relations are overturned, usually irrevocably, between colleagues, siblings, husband and wife.
Jan 5, 2019, 12:28 PM
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Chained to the Wheel

Colin Dardis
Louis Mulcahy is a master ceramic sculptor, and his poetry too focuses very closely on this art and craft. He wants us to understand the detail behind the obsession as well, and there are hints of regret over what it has cost him in terms of absence from the lives of others.
Jan 5, 2019, 12:42 PM
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Notes from the Other Island

Patrick Duffy
The collected reports of a former Irish correspondent for British media depict a country that is notably less prosperous than it is today but one in which it seems there was always time to talk. Many things have changed since, and some, like rural depopulation, have not.
Jan 5, 2019, 12:48 PM
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Though Lovers be Lost Love Shall Not

Jean O’Brien
For a writer who says she writes poetry as an aside, Anne Haverty sure packs it in; her journey takes us on a coruscating ride, tumbling with deftness, humour, irony and precision through history and Eastern Europe, with poems about vodka, life, love –and back to earth with a bump in Tipperary.
Jan 5, 2019, 12:54 PM
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Sunny Days, Fairy Nights

Lillis Ó Laoire
A new anthology of children’s literature in Irish asks what we can learn from a study of this field on the experience of childhood in Ireland. Secondly it asks if there are any distinctive aspects of childhood to be discerned from this study that are different from those to be found in English language literature.
Jan 5, 2019, 12:59 PM
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Games with the World

Catherine Ann Cullen
Poets, Ailbhe Darcy has written, should invest monstrously in their own personal mythology. Novelists build a fictional world for the space of a volume or several volumes, but the poet builds a fictional world across an entire life.
Jan 5, 2019, 13:11 PM
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Return and No Shame

Keith Payne
Maureen Boyle gives us portraits and poems of our social history, the most democratic of histories, showing us yet again –and yes, it needs to be repeated, especially to the Minister for Education – the importance of history and how it offers among so much else, a perspective, empathy and a future.
Jan 5, 2019, 13:22 PM
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Head Stuck in a Book

Angela Bourke
Images of women reading offer an edge: it might be rooted in a child’s anxiety about a mother whose attention is elsewhere, but often it’s an eroticised, voyeuristic feeling that we have caught the subject unawares. Writing culture assumes “the reader” to be male.
Jan 5, 2019, 16:52 PM
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The King's Man

Deirdre Serjeantson
As with the Easter Rising, there was in the early modern period more than one vision in play of Ireland’s destiny. Walter Quin, born in Dublin about 1575, was to die in 1640 “an ancient servant to the Royal family” – but in his case the royal family meant the Stuarts rather than the Habsburgs or Borghese, with whom O’Neill had lodged Ireland’s hopes. 
Jan 5, 2019, 16:59 PM
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