Ireland: A History (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/6/30
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Ireland has rarely been out of the news during the past thirty years. Whether as a war-zone in which Catholic nationalists and Protestant Unionists struggled for supremacy, a case study in conflict resolution or an economy that for a time promised to make the Irish among the wealthiest people on the planet, the two Irelands have truly captured the world's imagination. Yet single-volume histories of Ireland are rare. Here, Thomas Bartlett, one of the country's leading historians, sets out a fascinating new history that ranges from prehistory to the present. Integrating politics, society and culture, he offers an authoritative historical road map that shows exactly how – and why – Ireland, north and south, arrived at where it is today. This is an indispensable guide to both the legacies of the past for Ireland's present and to the problems confronting north and south in the contemporary world.
'Based on wide reading, clearly structured, elegantly expressed, spiced with a sardonic wit, steering a skilful course through the treacherous ideological rapids of Irish historiography, Bartlett's Ireland deserves to become a classic.' J. Joseph Lee, New York University and author of Ireland 1912–1985
'Vivid and nuanced, personal and scholarly, this audacious survey of the Irish past and present is magisterial in its range, but full of novelistic details, unexpected insights and wry observation. Professor Bartlett has the gift of explanation without simplification'. Declan Kiberd, author of Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation
'There are other single volume histories which cover the Iron Age through to the present but this accomplished and judicious book is by far the best, and will be read with interest and favour by both scholars and a wider audience. It will naturally take its place alongside the most distinguished survey-writing on Irish history.' Alvin Jackson, author of Home Rule: An Irish History, 1800–2000
'Thomas Bartlett's Ireland: A History is a hugely sobering and stimulating read and a great deal more than yet just another history of Ireland. For anyone genuinely interested in the make-up and ethos of … our country and in who we are, it is not to be missed.' Galway Advertiser
'Every decade in a country's history needs a new overview of its past. Tom Bartlett has presented us with a very fine one indeed … All historians live in hope that the framers of policies for the future might take some lessons from their work. Lord knows today they are in need of some new inspiration. Hopefully they will find it in this even-handed, often irreverent, frequently humorous and beautifully written new work by Tom Bartlett.' The Irish Times
'Ireland: A History is consistently readable, engaging and fresh. A bevy of survey Irish histories are currently available … this is superior to them all.' History Ireland
'Ireland: A History is compulsive reading … There is a vigorous freshness here, not so much the exploding of ancient clichés but the discovery of new implications to them.' The Australian
'When so much passion has entered into the making and writing of Irish history, a dispassionate narrative must be applauded. But beneath the smooth flow of Thomas Bartlett's writing there is a pulse of controlled anger. It is this attribute, rarely breaking the surface, which raises an exemplary text into a classic.' Tony Barnard, The Times Literary Supplement
'Bartlett's engrossing volume … is a tinder box for the reader's imagination. It will rank among the best monographs of Irish historians … This handsome hardback is an ideal read for the long holiday evenings at the end of the year …' Books Ireland
'… this one-volume history of Ireland is a well-written work of superb scholarship and is highly recommended to everyone who has an interest in Irish history.' The Irish Catholic
This book falls very firmly into the latter category and is the single best Irish history summary I've ever read. "Unputdownable" is not normally a word associated with histories, but this book had me staying up late and desperately waiting to get home from work to continue reading. Oddly, the strength of the book lies in the the 16th to 19th centuries, which is hardly the most swashbuckling and glamorous period in Irish history, but the author manages to make the era both understandable and an enjoyable read. For the first time I began to really understand the significance of figures (such as Tone) who found fame in that era and who are still part of present day Ireland.
The period on early Irish history isn't weak, but lacks the detail that is described in later periods. It is still an enjoyable read and serves the purpose of educating the reader on the origins of later conflict.
I didn't enjoy the final few chapters on modern day Ireland. There is analysis of history and there is moralising, and unfortunately the latter chapters I found preachy. It is a minor defect however.
The book is largely a political, economic and military history. It doesn't spend much time dealing with customs, costumes, "ordinary people" issues so to speak.
This also isn't a book for those looking for the tweedle dee tweedle dum history of Ireland, full of kings and maidens and pipers all playing and dancing at crossroads around a stack of shillelaghs while reciting poetry as gaeilge. It is a book if you want to understand where political thought on this complicated island has come from, understand the origins of major issues such as the role of violence in Irish Republicanism, and is a book if you want to find an excuse to escape from doing some housework.