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God's Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland [Paperback]

Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Aug 2008

Cromwell spent only nine months of his eventful life in Ireland, yet he stands accused there of war crimes, religious persecution and ethnic cleansing. The massacre of thousands of soldiers and civilians by the New Model Army at both Drogheda and Wexford in 1649 must rank among the greatest atrocities in Anglo-Irish history: a tale that makes decidedly uncomfortable reading for those keen to focus on Cromwell's undoubted military and political achievements elsewhere.

In a century of unrelenting, bloody warfare and religious persecution throughout Europe, Cromwell was, in many ways, a product of his times. As commander-in-chief of the army in Ireland, however, the responsibilities for the excesses of the military must be laid firmly at his door, while the harsh nature of the post-war settlement also bears his personal imprint. Cromwell was no monster, but he did commit monstrous acts. A warrior of Christ, somewhat like the crusaders of medieval Europe, he acted as God's executioner, convinced throughout the horrors of the legitimacy of his cause, and striving to build a better world for the chosen few. He remains, therefore, a remarkably modern figure, somebody to be closely studied and understood, rather than simply revered or reviled.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Export ed. edition (21 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571241212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571241217
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 15.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 495,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

On the 350th anniversary of his death, Oliver Cromwell continues to bestride the stage of Irish history like a colossus.

About the Author

Micheál Ó Siochrú is a native of Dublin, lectures in history at Trinity College, Dublin and has written extensively on seventeenth-century Ireland. His publications include Confederate Ireland 1642-1649: A constitutional and political analysis (Dublin, 1999) and Kingdoms in crisis: Ireland in the 1640s (Dublin, 2001).

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb historical account 24 Oct 2012
excellent book. very well written, very readable - especially for a historical book - and packed full of information. highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Cromwell and his activities in Ireland.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what it says on the tin 24 Sep 2009
By Henry Ireton VINE VOICE
Oliver Cromwell's expedition to Ireland in 1649 is understandably something that historians take a lot of interest in. Partly because it has become a contentious event in Irish history, partly because it saw the eventual reunification of two of the three Stuart Kingdoms under Parliament at the end of the Civil War. Dr Siochru's book is an interesting addition to the scholarship on the subject- but it has major problems. On the positive side though what he has done is provide a readable straightforward account of Irish politics in the 1640s and 1650s. Few historians would challenge many of the conclusions here about the horrors of war in Ireland, about the position of the royalist Catholic alliance who opposed Cromwell and fortified the larger towns within Ireland and about the importance of logistics in supporting Cromwell's victories. However the title to the book is misleading: this is not really about Cromwell's invasion of Ireland- indeed the author's interpretation of major documents written by Cromwell like the Clonmacnoise Declaration differs from that of distinguished academics like John Morrill- rather it is really about how the Royalists and Catholics reacted to the invasion. In this sense it continues the author's previous work on the Confederation of Kilkenny. The most valuable sections of the book concentrate on the relations amongst the royalist command- between Ormond, his deputy Clanrickard and various other peers, bishops and commanders. Siochru does not delve into the same issues on the Parliamentary side- Ormond and Clanrickard are fleshed out more than Cromwell and Ireton: a minor commander like Hugh Dubh O'Neill more than his equivalent, Colonel Reynolds or Sir Charles Coote on the Parliamentary side. There is nothing wrong with that- but it means that the book is mistitled. Read more ›
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14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Overview 12 Dec 2008
This is a period of history that I am not very familiar with so I found this book to be exceptionally useful in providing a well structured, comprehensive and balanced overview of the period. In contrast with the first reviewer I found the author to be very even handed when distributing both criticisms and praise. The book made me want to explore this period in greater detail, especially the various sieges, which to my mind is the sign of a good book - it inspires the reader to explore the topic further. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a general interest in the period who wishes to get to grips with the issues and players of this complex period of Irish history. As an aside I read this book immediately after the magesterial 4 volume history of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan and God's Executioner was not found wanting in comparison with Kagans masterwork.
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