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

    Not So Very Different

    Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke
    There can at times be an attention-seeking particularism about Irish writing – look at us, we like to say, look how unique, and how very interesting, we are. When I was a boy, we were taught that post-independence Ireland was poor but uniquely virtuous. Today we are taught that it was poor and uniquely wicked. Both positions are misguided: we were never as different as people have made out. 
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    Talking Heads

    Deirdre Serjeantson.
    As recently as 1996, an English editor of an edition of a seventeenth century play wrote in a footnote to explain to students a puzzling reference that “the Irish were notoriously cruel and bloodthirsty”. This of course is very much a matter of perspective. Both sides in the sixteenth and seventeenth century conflict in Ireland used extreme violence. The Elizabethan English tended to see Irish beheadings as savagery; their own decapitations were simply an expression of due process.
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    Humanism Comes to Town

    Toby Barnard
    Many of the features of other European Renaissance cities were missing from Dublin: no vibrant centre of learning, only an attenuated court, little local printing. Yet traders, administrators, soldiers and clerics arrived from overseas, as did manuscripts and books.
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    Revolutionary Year

    Matthew Kovac
    A new anthology of essays on the year 1916 seeks to internationalise the study of the Easter Rising, often treated as a purely domestic matter, and to restore that year, long neglected in favour of Bolshevik 1917, to its proper place as the revolutionary hinge of twentieth century politics.
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    Instead of Blood

    Ian Doherty
    Instead of Blood
    In Northern Ireland in 1972, 470 people were killed, 1,853 bombs were planted and 18,819 kilos of explosives found. Some thought a United Ireland was close, others a civil war. At the same time the Dublin and London governments were working diligently with moderate politicians for a settlement.
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    Expunged

    Seamus Deane
    Two figures dominate in Breandán Mac Suibhne’s history of a Donegal community, one an informer, the other one of the hard-faced men who did well out of the Famine. Together they help ruin the community, transforming it into a world stripped of people and of communal ethics.
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    Fíon Spáinneach

    Vincent Morley
    The animosity between the smuggler Murtaí Óg Ó Súilleabháin and John Puxley, both of whom died violently in the 1750s, was once seen as symptomatic of wider societal divisions. But in fact Puxley, though employed as a revenue officer, had had a notable career in smuggling too.
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    Against Pure Wool

    Maurice Earls
    In the midst of the January Uprising of 1863 in Poland, a Dublin grocer, Patrick McCabe Fay, donated money to a fund in support of the Polish rebels, explaining that it was only right that the “Poland of the West” come to the aid of “her sister of the East”.
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    Kith and Kine

    Gerard Murphy
    A compendious work on the ostensibly obscure and specialist subject of the origins of cattle breeds manages to incorporate a good deal of fascinating human history over several millennia, recalling in the process the literary work of Herman Melville or WG Sebald.
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    Destined for Radicalism

    Sheena Wilkinson
    Destined for Radicalism
    Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was a suffragette and a Sinn Féiner, and in that order. For her, national sovereignty did not overshadow other concerns and, unlike Constance Markievicz, she never considered female suffrage secondary to the struggle for Irish independence.
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