A new history of the Irish revolution, placing it in context of the global revolutions of the age.
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The Irish Revolution – the war between the British authorities and the newly-formed IRA – was the first successful revolt anywhere against the British Empire. This is a vividly-written, compelling narrative placing events in Ireland in the wider context of a world in turmoil after the ending of a global war: one that saw the collapse of empires and the rise of fascist Italy and communist Russia. Walsh shows how developments in Europe and America had a profound effect on Ireland, influencing the attitudes and expectations of combatants and civilians.
Walsh also brings to life what Irish people who were not fully involved in the fighting were doing – the plays they went to, the exciting films they watched in the new cinemas, the books they read and the work they did. The freedom from Britain that most of them wanted was, when it came, a bitter disappointment to a generation aware of the promise of modernity.
Maurice Walsh is a gifted writer with a novelist's eye for the illuminating detail of everyday lives in extremis ... The great strength of Walsh's book is its breadth of vision. His book challenges parochial tendencies in the revolutionary story.
Maurice Walsh's invigorating account of the revolution and its immediate aftermath starts after the Rising, and firmly locates the Irish crisis in the postwar Europe described by Thomas Masaryk as 'a laboratory atop a vast graveyard'. Vivid and incisive, his approach highlights discontinuities and contradictions among the revolutionaries.
Bitter Freedom is a wonderfully involving work: vividly written, with a storyteller's eye for human detail and a scholar's sense of broader and deeper movements over time. Anyone interested in Irish history will find the book riveting.
(Walsh) stretches the canvas of history into a beautifully realised story, one that is as human and cultural as it is political and military.
Walsh is a fine writer and has a novelist's feel for pace and colour; he bolsters his account with good storytelling and well-chosen asides.
Maurice Walsh's book is the most vivid and dramatic account of this epoch to date: if you want to feel the full horror of Bloody Sunday in Dublin and the 'sacking' of Balbriggan by the Black and Tans, this is the place to look.
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