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Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy - The Untold Story Of The Cromwelli [Paperback]

Tom Reilly
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Nov 2000
This re-examination of the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland argues that the viewpoint of Cromwell as a genocidal maniac and religious fanatic lacks solid evidence. Placing his conquest within the rules of war at the time, it concludes he was the first successful military conqueror of Ireland.


Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New edition edition (23 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842120808
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842120804
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.8 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 677,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Author

This book is ahead of its time
As author of this book, I feel that many historians in Ireland are not ready yet for 'an honourable' Cromwell - nor indeed are the people of Ireland. I thought that I would change the history books and public opinion about this much maligned historical figure by publishing the truth about Cromwell's Irish campaign. The reaction - among the under forties on the whole - was good, but among historians and the over forties it was bad. They can't seem to accept that an amateur could discover such a fundamental flaw in Irish history ie that neither Cromwell or his men ever engaged in the killing of any unarmed civilians throughout his entire nine month campaign. The facts are there for all to see. But God bless Ireland the past is still the present here and we MUST have our English hate figures - despite the truth. How sad is that?

Tom Reilly Author - Cromwell An Honourable Enemy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Newspaper columnist Tom Reilly was born in 1960 in Drogheda. Hs is the author of eights books in all. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a bit harsh to give this only four stars. Generally most things about this book are excellent. The sources are laid out fairly clearly - a bibliography, mostly 20th century and some nineteenth, and 'Miscellaneous Publications' including such things as a BBC programme, one edition of a newspaper, and a lecture. Each chapter has endnotes, and their references match up with the bibliography, at least usually.

However there are some niggles:

[1] Not many original documents are mentioned, and the presumption is they've been printed accurately. But one can never be sure. To be fair many have probably vanished or decayed or would be difficult to get hold of in the original.

[2] Reilly often enough says such-and-such a person never visited Ireland, or some similar definite statement; how can he be so sure? No doubt he's likely to be right, but ...

[3] He doesn't state the official Irish view of Cromwell. We're not all Irish, and some of us haven't been exposed to the Irish education system. Reilly does lay out clearly the object of Cromwell's military expedition, viz to control Ireland, and take lands from Royalists. But it's left rather unclear. Admittedly a revisionist book doesn't have to deal with every aspect of a topic, but the reason Cromwell's of interest in Ireland is exactly because of what he was supposed to have done. (As an example - take 'plantations'. They couldn't have been for spices, sugar cane, tobacco; were they trees? Or what?) Under the rules of the age, was it accepted that a supporter of a losing side should lose possessions?

[4] He doesn't give details of real or supposed massacres of Protestants before Cromwell got there. (Or subsequent events such as the 'Black and Tans').
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long, long overdue 18 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
It is true that this book is in some respects slightly flawed. Reilly's style is a bit quirky, some may even describe it as amateurish. BUT he has had the courage to open a debate that the "professional" historians - both English and Irish - have shied away from for 350 years. Sadly when you rock the boat you are vilified for it. Which is why "professional" academics seldom do it. They have too much too lose.

I do not intend to dissect the book - too many reviewers have already done that above. Some should be ashamed of the comments they have made. They say more about the reviewers' bigotry than Reilly's scholarship. Instead I urge you, if you have an interest in: the English Civil; Cromwell; or Irish history; to read this book with an open mind. I found Reilly's scholarship
compelling and a breath of fresh air in a debate that has been stifled for far too long.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 4 stars for taking on the mob. 11 Sep 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Coming to England in the 1950's as a schoolboy all I knew about Cromwell was what my mother told me; “Cromwell did bad things in Ireland”. Growing up in England this was supported by the way Cromwell or more accurately the Parliamentarians were portrayed in popular English culture. On television, books and more importantly in comics like the Wizard, Rover and Eagle the parliamentarians and by implication Cromwell were the bad guys who lost every time. While I enjoyed these tales as much is anybody I was acutely aware from school history lessons that the parliamentarians had actually won. Also with my Irish fascination the graves of famous people I asked my history teacher where Cromwell was buried he admitted he didn't know. It was years later a Communist and therefore a Cromwell sympathiser shocked me by telling me they had dug his body up and hanged him two years after he was dead.

One could say Cromwell was luckier than several of his fellow signatories of the King's death warrant. Any who had not died or fled abroad were tried as regicides and were probably the last people in Britain to suffer the medieval death of traitors. Slow hanging cut down while still alive, castrated and disemboweled before being beheaded and chopped into quarters with the parts exhibited around the country. Compare this to the Catholic Babington Conspirators condemned for plotting to put Mary Queen of Scots of the English throne in 1586. After 7 had suffered the full penalty, depending on whom you read either the public or the Queen were so revolted the remaining 7 were allowed to hang until they were dead.
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28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but challenging 11 Jan 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
While I sympathise with the earlier reviewer's comments on the unpolished character of Reilly's written style and the often clumsy structure of his arguments this is a challenging book, worthy of the attention of anyone who brings an open mind to the study of Irish history. Those who simply want to have their prejudices confirmed will doubtless hate the book: how dare anyone - especially an Irishman from Drogheda - challenge Irish nationalism's most cherished myth!
The previous reviewer is right that Reilly does not satisfactorily explain away Cromwell's own reference to civilian casualties at Drogheda but the fact that civilians may have died in the heat of action (today we would call it collateral damage) does not make a massacre. Reilly does, in my opinion, convincingly demolish the reliability the testimony of Woods, the only eyewitness to describe deliberate atrocities committed against civilians during the battle, by showing that he had good reasons to wish to present Cromwell in a bad light. If Wood's evidence is discounted then there is no real evidence of a massacre of civilians: all other sources, including those that the earlier reviewer mentions, are second hand and, like Woods, have an interest in presenting Cromwell in a bad light. The consequences for Ireland of the Cromwellian conquest were quite bad enough without making the man into something he was not. I would hope that Reilly's book might help encourage a less self-serving approach to Irish history if it was more widely read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars It's an interesting book but production values not quite 100%
It's entirely readable although there are more typos and errors than one would normally anticipate. The argument advanced on its pages is reasonably thought out but lack the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Frank P. Ryan
3.0 out of 5 stars Setting the Record Straight
Whilst it would be unfair to say that this work is badly written, neither is it well written. Worse still, there are no illustrations apart from three maps, one of Drogheda on page... Read more
Published 20 months ago by H. A. Weedon
5.0 out of 5 stars Cromwell an honorable enemy
I have read this book twice,and could.read it again.
Well researched and easy reading,and at last
The truth is out there
An amazing man
Published 24 months ago by colin campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking interpretation
Historian Tom Reilly was born in Drogheda, the site of one of Cromwell's most notorious alleged massacres. Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2009 by William Podmore
1.0 out of 5 stars Reilly's excuse for Cromwell
This book fails to apply critical historigraphical methods, is overblown and is really the sort of misplaced hagigraphy we might expect to see from a New Yorker on the 300th... Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2008 by The Jackal
1.0 out of 5 stars Publish and Be Damned!
The ambition is good: re-write the history of the greatest bogeyman in Ireland. Unfortunately Reilly merely fits the facts to suit his pre-determined argument. Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2008 by History Boy
5.0 out of 5 stars Much Needed Antidote
When I studied this period as an undergraduate there was always something uncomfortable not just about what we studied and believed happened, but also the way the evidence was... Read more
Published on 27 Oct 2007 by BadgerBorg
4.0 out of 5 stars A good revisionist history - and about time too
Over the years I've received some startlingly acerbic reactions to the mere mention of Oliver Cromwell and Ireland and it has long been a personal aim of mine to discover if it was... Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2006 by VanGo
1.0 out of 5 stars Inventing a New Oliver Cromwell
This is a remarkable attempt to revise the accepted view of Cromwell in Ireland. For Reilly, a native of Drogheda, Cromwell was an honourable soldier who did not cause the death of... Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2001
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