on 13 May 1999
This is a very comprehensive reference book, describing the history of Ulster from about 7000 BC to 1992 AD. Jonathan Bardon has put the emphasis on contemporary quotations, which give a good flavour of the events being described. Because the book is over 900 pages long, he is able to deal with subject material in a considerable detail - for example, 200 pages are devoted to the troubled years from 1969 to 1992. Fortnight magazine has described this book as "the fullest, fairest and most professional history ever written of this disputed part of Ireland".
on 18 January 2005
As a Northerner myself, I find this book the best on the subject that I've ever read. Indeed, it is a quite outstanding volume. Bardon, a Southerner who teaches in the North, is very detailed, always interesting, always fairly balanced and completely impartial. This is no polemic for one side or the other; it simply tells it as it was, history in all its messy, confusing, frustrating detail. It helps one make sense (well, more sense) of the current situation in Northern Ireland. It is a seriously large book, but it is well worth the effort.
on 14 December 2010
Having taken a class on Northern Ireland in college I've become acquainted with Bardon's mammoth work "A History of Ulster".
Bardon set himself a a very difficult task by creating a volume of work stretching back into BC and finishing up in the early 1990s. He also must allocate relevant pages to 'hot' topics. He also must consult important sources all the while remaining neutral - on this topic an exceedingly difficult task. Bardon, in sum, manages all this superbly.
The range of topics covered is immense and enables an experienced reader of history to jump into important sections and allows newcomers to read up on important areas. Bardon encompasses a wide variety of subjects and takes the reader down to the street level (e.g Battle of the Bogside, Bloody Sunday) and you 'feel' the action. Bardon does this and manages to remain authoritve.
Bardon's source base is envious, he has consulted a wide range of secondary reading and a range of primary sources relevant to Northern Ireland. There's a full list in the back of the book.
In terms of literary quality, the book is faultless. Bardon has an extensive background in teaching, academics and even television so his work here is 'spot-on'. He remains steadfastly neutral here - a difficult topic to be neutral on but he manages it very well and it in no ways becomes a spiel from one point of view.
This is an excellent book. It deserves a spot on any history reading person's bookshelf. It's a fascinating, capable, interesting, readable and a general all-round superb piece of work on one of mainland Ireland's most troublesome periods.
on 8 December 2007
PHEW! Just reached the end of this behemoth (830 pages of text). This really is the heavyweight history of Ulster.
If you have little or no knowledge about the region, Bardon's Shorter Illustrated History of Ulster is a better starting point, but if you are ready to put the time in this longer version is well worth the effort.
My one major criticism is that the 2005 edition effectively finishes in 1992 with the preface outlining the period from 1992-2001.So it is not as up to date as it might be and progress in the past ten years has been rapid.
As a minor point, all the maps and illustrations are tucked away at the back rather than being attached to the relevant bits of text. This hinders the explanation of some points particularly where geography is important - such as in trying to fathom the internecine rivalries of the Ulster clans ( I ended up digging out a map which ended up following the book around for the few weeks I took to read it).
Having said that Bardon wades into the minefield (sometimes a literal one) of Ulster history with verve, aplomb and admirable impartiality to produce a thoroughly engaging account of nearly 9000 years of history.
on 21 July 2010
A difficult subject to write about and keep the attitudes neutral.
Bardon has managed this better than anyone else and does not appear partisan
This not to say that fault with people or institutions is not shown where proven.
Although a large and fairly detailed book - over 800 pages of text, it is very readable.
For those who want to dig deeper, the bibliography is very good.
I do not want to go on and on but if you want "the history" of Ulster. This has got to be it.