Top critical review
16 people found this helpful
Spies, Informers and the 'Anti Sinn Fein Society': The Intelligence War in Cork City 1919-1921
on 20 September 2007
When I read the foreword to Spies Informers and the "Anti-Sinn Fein Society" by Prof. Eunan O'Halpin it struck me as rather sparing in its praise and I wondered if the professor was guilty of that scholarly trait of not wishing to appear too effusive or enthusiastic towards an academic text. Sadly after reading this extended thesis I suspect this is not the case, I fear this is just a badly written book and the professor knows it.
As a reference tool for names, dates and remembered first hand accounts I would agree that this book is a useful asset for anyone wishing to study history, this is a well referenced work.
However this book should be part of a wider body of research as I think it contains too many assumptions to be considered of any real worth, the main one being the author's opinion that a lack of overt support for the Crown forces within a society implies tacit support for the Dáil Éireann and the Cork IRA.
Very little of the book is spent on the fear instilled into the local population by the IRA. Having spent most of my adult life living in Northern Ireland both before and after the ceasefire in both nationalist and unionist areas I can say with some authority, as can anyone who has lived in this country, that often the local population will say and do nothing because they fear the wrath and retribution of paramilitary forces.
If the reader approaches the text with this in mind many of Borgonovo's assumptions are questionable. Couple this with the fact that in his own conclusions the author acknowledges his theories cannot be accurate, that he can prove nothing; one has to wonder, what is the point of this book?