Not always easy reading but a book from which more than just Irish citizens can learn.




Irish history from the Irish point of view.

That view comes from acclaimed historian Coogan (The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy, 2012, etc.), a true take-no-prisoners writer. The story of Ireland is that of a country struggling against colonialism and the church. The men who fought on Easter 1916 knew they would die; it was their courage that allowed them to hold out for a week. The executions, William Butler Yeats’ poem “Sixteen Dead Men,” and the letter of outrage from Limerick’s bishop roused the country to true revolution. Then came the ugly times of the Black and Tans and Michael Collins’ pioneering urban guerrilla warfare. In 1932, Éamon de Valera, Collins’ true opposite, took charge of the government. It was the zenith of his power, and it continued through World War II, but new voices needed to be heard. The 1950s and ’60s brought a drive for economic expansion with hope of membership in the European Economic Community. The visit of American president John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the changes of the Second Vatican Council also had marked influences on the country. Tourism increased, and there was even a proposal to fund medical aid for women and children, which was powerfully opposed by the church. Here, Coogan throws off the gloves as he lays into the Catholic Church, which ran the schools, institutions, and hospitals—including industrial schools, reformatories, and the Magdalene laundries run by “fallen” girls. The abuses in those institutions are still coming out, and while some restitution has been made, it has been made by the state of Ireland rather than the convents and the diocese. The Celtic Tiger rise of the 1990s and 2000s and the economic collapse lead Coogan to his final plea for “ethical political oversight and…correct governance…that attends to more than short-term financial gain and personal enrichment.” The author also bemoans the departure from the 1916 promises of child care, women’s rights, and social health.

Not always easy reading but a book from which more than just Irish citizens can learn.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-11059-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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