I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Beyond Revisionism

In a recent interview with The Irish Times, Roy Foster volunteered a striking comment: ‘The whole revisionism thing,’ he asserted, ‘is over.’ The remark is notable because, perhaps more than any other Irish historian of his generation, Foster built his reputation on a commitment to revisionism. Now that the outlook is avowedly a thing of […]

The Third Man

The Material for Victory: The Memoirs of Andrew J. Kettle, Laurence J Kettle (ed), introduction and additional biographical note by Niamh Reilly and annotations by Niamh Reilly and Jane O’Brien, The Open Press at the University of Galway, 300 pp, €20, ISBN: 978-1911690146 (paperback), 978-1911690153 (ebook) Andrew J Kettle (1833 – 1916) can lay just […]

Pétain’s Gift

France on Trial: The Case of Marshal Pétain, by Julian Jackson, Allen Lane, 445 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-0241450253 The essence of a nation is that all the individuals constituting it will have many things in common; and also that they will all have forgotten many things. Ernest Renan On August 25th, 1944, four years and […]

Endgame in Paris

On February 13th 1936, the French socialist leader Léon Blum left the Palais Bourbon in Paris, the site of the lower house of parliament, to travel the relatively short distance to his home on the île Saint-Louis. He was driven by Georges Monnet, a friend and colleague, and they were accompanied by Monnet’s wife, Germaine. […]

The Conditions of Liberty

  He is most powerful who is in his own power. Seneca The strength of our nation must be the strength of the whole people. Michael Collins                                                        i […]

First, the Struggle

Liam Lynch: To Declare a Republic, by Gerard Shannon, Merrion Press, 342 pp, €19.99, ISBN:978-1788558211 Liam Lynch was a key figure in the IRA between 1919 and 1921 and went on to become commander of the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War of 1922-23. He is perhaps most important for his central role in the […]

White Mischief

Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire, by Caroline Elkins, Vintage, 896 pp, £16.99, ISBN: 978-0099540250 Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire, by Erik Linstrum, Oxford University Press, 328 pp, £26.99, ISBN: 978-0197572030 Untied Kingdom: A Global History of the End of Britain, by Stuart Ward, […]

When Everything Seemed Possible

An American journalist sympathetic to the causes of labour, the emancipation of women and Ireland’s liberation from British rule shaped her journalism into a book. Soon enough, she disappeared into the quiet obscurity of a worthy teaching life. Ruth Russell’s account of her Irish experiences, What’s the Matter with Ireland?, disappeared into obscurity too, surfacing […]

The Fashion for Fascism

Mussolini in Myth and Memory: The First Totalitarian Dictator, by Paul Corner, Oxford University Press, 179 pp, £20, ISBN: 978-0192866646 The Pope At War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini & Hitler, by David I Kertzer, Oxford University Press, 621 pp, £25, ISBN 978-0192890733 I begin writing this review on a day (October 13th, […]

Bohemian Encounters

Postcards from Absurdistan: Prague at the End of History, by Derek Sayer, Princeton University Press, 752 pp, £38, ISBN: 978-0691185453, ISBN: 978-0691239514 (e-book) Postcards from Absurdistan is the third volume in a ‘loose trilogy of cultural histories’ in which Derek Sayer has argued that European modernity is best examined from a vantage point located, both […]