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Dublin 1916: The Siege of the GPO Paperback – 25 Mar 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; Firs PAPERBACK EDITION. edition (25 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846680611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846680618
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 599,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

She is to be congratulated on retelling that narrative with originality, economy and erudition. (Brenda Maddox Literary Review)

Will's possesses a sharp eye for the quiddity of the everyday, and a marvellous ear for quotation ... her stylish, suggestive and highly intelligent book provides a riveting read (Roy Foster Guardian)

Wills guides us expertly from one commemorative stepping stone to another (Liam Kennedy BBC History)

Comprehensive in its details of the battle which raged in the city centre and particularly good on its aftermath... (George Byrne Dublin Evening Herald 2010-04-03)

An excellent cultural history that gives due emphasis to the "literary elements of the rising." (Ian Pindar Guardian 2010-04-17)

The Easter Rising is analysed with verve in this absorbing account which also considers the event's repercussions on subsequent generations. (N/A Observer 2010-04-25)

Magnificent. (Julian Fleming Sunday Business Post 2010-04-11)

In the run-up to the 1916 centenary you are going to be hit with a virtual avalanche of books... few will be as definitive as this... A dispassionate, scholarly, yet effortless read. (Tom Widger Sunday Tribune 2010-05-09)

A thrilling account. (John Coulter Tribune magazine 2010-06-04)

Review

`This fascinating study shows how the building itself waxed and waned in the imagination...a magisterial review of the sources' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
On Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, while large crowds of Dubliners were at the seaside or at the horse races at Fairyhouse, a group of Irish Volunteers, led by members of the secret revolutionary organisation the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and 200 members of the socialist Irish Citizen Army, assembled at Liberty Hall in the centre of Dublin. Read the first page
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Today the neo-classical General Post Office dominates O'Connell Street in Dublin, where it continues to serve a role in the Irish postal service. Yet the building also plays another, even more important role as a symbol of the Irish struggle for independence. On Easter Monday, 1916, the GPO was among the building seized by a band of armed men, who then proclaimed the creation of an Irish republic in front of its stone columns and turned it into a headquarters for the subsequent battle against government forces. Though gutted in the fighting, the GPO was rebuilt, and in the years that followed it became the backdrop for commemorations of the struggle for Irish independence. The building and its role in memorializing the Rising is the subject of Clair Wills' short study, which explains how the GPO came to assume such a central role in the Irish national consciousness.

Wills begins by recounting the role of the GPO in the Easter Rising. She explains the importance of the building to the people of the time, noting that the pervasive presence of the Post Office throughout Ireland and the imposing grandeur of the building itself contributed to its attractiveness as a target for the rebels. She goes on to recount the key events of the Rising that took place inside; though she fits them within the context of events as they developed, she keeps her focus here squarely on the GPO and the surrounding streets, ignoring the details of events at such places as Boland's Mill and Jacob's Biscuit Factory. With the end of the Rising Wills moves on to describe its immediate aftermath, noting that the event was quickly relegated to the background for most people giving the ongoing drama of the First World War.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ostin H on 14 May 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An interesting account written from a Sociological/academic viewpoint that tries to see through the mists of mythology.
Conclusion; only one, the event was largly a product of its time and place but the State will always retain the upper hand in an armed conflict, it cannot fail, and as recent events have shown in Ulster the most effective way is to bite the tongue and seek a diplomatic solution. It is likely to provide the best long term result.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A thoughtful examination of the symbolism of the GPO 19 April 2010
By MarkK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Much as the Alamo does for Texas, the neo-classical General Post Office in Dublin serves today as a symbol of a people's struggle for independence. On Easter Monday, 1916, the building was among those seized by a band of armed men, who then proclaimed the creation of an Irish republic in front of its stone columns and turned it into a headquarters for the subsequent battle against government forces. Though gutted in the fighting, the GPO was rebuilt, and in the years that followed the building became the backdrop for commemorations of the struggle for Irish independence. The GPO and its role in memorializing the Rising is the subject of Clair Wills' short study, which explains how the building came to assume such a central role in the Irish national consciousness.

Wills begins by recounting the role of the GPO in the Easter Rising. She explains the importance of the building to the people of the time, noting that the pervasive presence of the Post Office throughout Ireland and the imposing grandeur of the building itself contributed to its attractiveness as a target for the rebels. She goes on to recount the key events of the Rising that took place inside; though she fits them within the context of events as they developed, she keeps her focus here squarely on the GPO and the surrounding streets, ignoring the details of events at such places as Boland's Mill and Jacob's Biscuit Factory. With the end of the Rising Wills moves on to describe its immediate aftermath, noting that the event was quickly relegated to the background for most people giving the ongoing drama of the First World War. Yet artists and writers were already beginning the process of memorializing the Rising, and their paintings and poems contributed to the establishment of the role of the building as the stage for the central drama of the event.

Recognizing its growing symbolism, the authorities went to considerable lengths to prevent the building from being used as a stage for demonstrations against British rule during the War of Independence. But with independence the GPO became the scene of struggle once more - only this time it became part of the larger political struggle over the meaning of independence. By the 1930s, the GPO began to play a new role as well, as it served as a symbol to remind the post-independence generation of the sacrifices made. This usage reached a peace with the fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 1966, after which the parades and rhetoric were downplayed so as to avoid efforts by Sinn Fein to associate the Rising with the ongoing Troubles in Northern Ireland. Wills concludes by describing the ongoing importance of the GPO to Irish identity today, one evident by the plans to remodel the site in preparation for the centennial of the Rising in 2016.

Wills's book provides a thoughtful examination of the GPO and its role as a symbol of Irish history. Her abilities as a literary scholar are on fine display, as she analyzes the works that are part of this process with insight and clarity. Her success in this regard makes her book a valuable study not just of the GPO or of the memorialization of the Rising, but of the construction of historical symbols and the role that they play in the development of national identity, one that can be read for pleasure as well as enlightenment.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Disappointed 10 Feb. 2010
By P. Spencer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a book on the Easter Rebellion in Dublin 1916 then this book is not for you. It gives only a relatively brief account of the rebellion. To me this was a simple rehash of many other previous works - little of note was new to what has already been printed and is more of an overview than any great detail. More than half the book looks at Irish History since then - drawing comparisons back to the Insurrection and the seven leaders. Not being Irish I found the latter part of the book boring - whether an Irishman/woman would I don't know. Certainly the title "Dublin 1916. The Siege of the GPO" is grossly misleading - I wouldn't have bought it if I knew how little was actually about the title.
DUBLIN 1916: THE SIEGE OF THE GPO 23 Mar. 2010
By Robert A. Lynn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
DUBLIN 1916: THE SIEGE OF THE GPO
CLAIR WILLS
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2009
HARDCOVER, $23.95, 260 PAGES, MAPS, PHOTOGRAPHS, CHRONOLOGY

The Easter Uprising of 1916 was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish Republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the Rebellion of 1798. Organized by the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Rising lasted from Easter Monday 24 April 1916 to 30 April 1916. Members of the Irish Volunteers, led by schoolteacher and barrister Patrick Pearse, joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly, along with 200 members of Cumann na mBan (women's auxiliary to the Irish Volunteers), seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic independent of Britain. There were some actions in other parts of Ireland but, except for the attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC)Barracks at Ashbourne, County Meath, they were minor. The defense of Rebel-held Dublin depended on a crescent line of strong-points with the GPO on O'Connell Street as its headquarters. The signal for the commencement of the Uprising was supposed to have been quite spectacular. The Magazine Fort, a large store of explosives owned the British Army in the Phoenix Park, was to have been blown up by a small party under the command of Gary Holohan. They broke in but failed to gain access to the main store (as the key was missing) and attempted to blow it up. It failed to explode the whole store. A party of the Irish Citizen Army under the command of Captain Sean Connolly at noon proceeded to Dublin Castle with orders to attack the castle. A policeman appeared and was shot. They failed to capture the castle (it turned out they could easily have done so as it was under-manned) and withdrew to City Hall. The GPO was captured without much grief around the same time and the proclamation of the Irish Republic was read out by Padraig Pearse, President of the Provisional Government. To the British forces in Dublin, the Uprising came as quite a shock. They were confident that with only a limited supply of arms the Rebels wouldn't rise, and on Easter Monday most were away enjoying a day out at the races. Rumors abounded throughout the city of a German landing, and a mass rising in the rest of Ireland. However, these rumors were all nearly untrue. The question was now: How long could they hold out? By Monday evening, British reinforcements were pouring in from all over Ireland and preparations were being made in England for sending many more over. General Lowe took charge of the British and martial law was declared. Dublin was surrounded quickly and by Thursday, 12,000 British troops had arrived. The Rebels hadn't one machine gun. All they could do now was to sit and wait for the attack and it did come. On Wednesday, the bloodiest battle of the whole week was in progress with the British using tactics from the trenches to try and get through. After eight hours of charges, the British had lost 230 killed and wounded. By Thursday, the British had over 12,000 soldiers in Dublin. A cordon had been established to isolate the Rebel positions. The British began to edge closer in on the Rebels so that by Friday, the GPO had to be evacuated because the roof and much of the building was burning as a result of the artillery bombardment. Much of O'Connell Street was also burning by now and the street was a death trap to any Rebel that ventured out because of the machine gun rounds filling it. The end was in sight for the Rebels. At noon on Saturday, 29 April 1916, it was decided that to avoid further civilian deaths, they must surrender. At 3:30 PM, Pearse handed General Lowe his sword and wrote the surrender order. Author Clair Willis takes us inside the GPO during that momentous week. One can almost feel the hunger of the Rebels marooned on the great roof or the acrid smell of burning beams and plasterwork. Shells crash into the great building; men scurry to escape the fires enveloping the building; exhausted, the Rebels surrender. The civilian deaths are soon forgotten as the national consciousness focuses on the "martyrdom" of the fifteen executed Rebel leaders of the Uprising. This rich and rewarding book recounts the dramatic events of Easter Week but she also tracks the obsession with Dublin's iconic GPO through literature, film and art, exploring the twists and turns that the myth of the GPO has undergone in the last century. It has stood for sacrifice and treachery, national unity, and divisive violence, for the future and the past.

Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard
Orlando, Florida
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