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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography of Ireland's most courageous leader
Since his death at the age of just 31, Michael Collins has cast a long shadow in Irish history. Of course, this is partly because of what he did not live to achieve. I remember my own father (who brought me up with tales of Collins and his bicycle, and whose uncle fought with the IRA) asking on his death-bed - "why did we kill the best of our own"?
But as the years...
Published on 12 Jun. 2001 by Gareth Smyth

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7 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars poor writing hampers important message
The writer is to be commended in that he tackles a difficult understudied area, the life of michael collins. Nevertheless two aspects of this book really got my back up. The first is the obvious partisan nature of the work, if you are hoping for the type of objective open-minded approach to history which might bring peace in troubled areas of our country then you can...
Published on 28 Feb. 2001


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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography of Ireland's most courageous leader, 12 Jun. 2001
By 
Gareth Smyth "Enjilos" (County Mayo, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
Since his death at the age of just 31, Michael Collins has cast a long shadow in Irish history. Of course, this is partly because of what he did not live to achieve. I remember my own father (who brought me up with tales of Collins and his bicycle, and whose uncle fought with the IRA) asking on his death-bed - "why did we kill the best of our own"?
But as the years pass, it becomes clearer that Collins is remembered - and still loved - for what he did achieve in his short time on earth.
He was the ruthless as the head of military intelligence that undermined British rule in Ireland. Collins felt the sentiment of nationalism as strongly as anyone, but he knew, especially after Easter 1916, that it was not enough for victory.
And this is the essence of Tim Pat Coogan's well-researched and moving book. Collins' greatest achievement was not that he knew how to make war, but that he knew how to make peace. His greatest strength was not his courage in making war (which was great enough), but his courage in making peace. And in that sense, he has left his mark on Irish history and his spirit among the Irish.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever likely to be written on M. Collins, 29 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
Tim Pat Coogan's book is a triumph of intelligence, research and dedication over the romantic rose tinted blindness of others who have tackled this subject. He presents the man as a whole being not an empty hero on a pedestal. This is a man in his worst and best moments.
Coogan's style of writing is a delight to behold. This is a man who never uses over blown emotion and empty cliche. He absorbs you into the subject.
I have had both the delight and misfortute to read many books on Michael Collins and this is by far the best. It towers head and shoulders above all others. Even Margery Forster's 'Lost Leader' can't capture the man or the era in this honest, direct and evocative manner.
If you enjoy twentifth century history then buy this book. Buy this book if you want the undiluted truth. Most of all buy this book if you want to read a biographical masterpiece.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the big fella., 22 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
I read this book several years ago wanting to know more about Mick Collins after seeing the Neil Jordan film, Liam Neeson playing the role of The Big Fella.
I would highly recommend this book by Tim Pat Coogan for those who want to know more about MC and the part he played in the Irish battle for Independence.
We will never know how great a statesman he could have been for Ireland as his life was ended much too soon.
De Valera did comment once that in the fullness of time Collins would be remembered for the major part he played in Irish history!Never was a truer word spoken.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coogans book highlights the complexity of Irish history, 15 Jun. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
Tim Pat Coogan worte in an essay on Collins, "Tragiclly we will never know how Collins may have developed....for as Heine once remarked the Irish always pull down a noble stag."
Coogans book is a brilliant account of the historic figure that is Michael Collins. He was both a pragmatic politican and a mastermind of guerilla warfare, calculating and ruthless with a knid and gentle side to his complex personality. This is beautfully portrayed in Coogans book.
A invaluable text, not only to the reader but also to the student. One need only read Coogans work to understand the difficult circumstances of Irish history.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most complete, authoritative work about Michael Collins, 16 Nov. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
A splendid biography about one of the most important leaders in the process of Ireland's independence.
As the other books of T.P.Coogan, it reflects a lot of research of a professional writer who is specialised in the history of Ireland in the 20th century. The account reads fluently, also for foreigners, sometimes bearing the character of a thrilling non-fiction novel.
Readers, who have watched the movie of Neil Jordan first, will find that the motion-picture scenario is almost completely based on this title with some small differences, obviously inserted or altered for reasons of screen effect.
One point surprising me is the covering of the Civil War after the signing of the Treaty: there is no chapter in this title dedicated especially to the Civil War, rather are the elements of this conflict spread evenly over the last chapters. It looks like T.P.Coogan replaced this with the chapter about Northern Ireland, just before "mouth of flowers", wherein the policy of Michael Collins and the Free State government towards the northern Six Counties is emphasized. I have the impression this was done deliberately and that the Northern Ireland issue and it's Troubles is the pet subject of T.P.Coogan (see e.g. other titles of the same author, as "the Troubles" or "the IRA"...). Personally, I would have expected an elaborate account on this sensitive subject (in contradistinction to the absence of a detailed account on the Civil War, an extensive description and discussion of the (Guerilla) War against the British and the British Campaign in Ireland appears in the former part of the book, which is indeed a very chilling experience). This might be a possible new title of the author in the future.
At the end a short discussion is given on the circumstances of Michael Collins death and the alleged assassin(s). A short touch is made on one of the famous cover-up stories. Coogan penetrates here without too many details, because this kind of investigations rather belongs in the world of (sensational) "who-done-it" documentaries.
Very interesting is the speculation the author makes in the last chapter "honouring the dead" about what would have happened if Michael Collins would not have been assassinated but would have lived during the following years. It is Coogan's opinion that Ireland would have prospered more quickly, and that on top of that, most probably, it would have been an united country now without the separation of the North.
This title is also a jumping board to other titles of the same author. Several subjects which are treated briefly in this book are the title of other works of T.P.Coogan. People who want to have a good insight in the background of the struggle of Ireland for it's independence can rely on this writer.
A must for concerned readers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars intelligent, pragmatic and also caring, 14 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
This was a well researched and well written book. Coogan portrays a complex man, who was undeniably ruthless, yet was charismatic, intelligent, pragmatic and also caring.

He was an extraordinary individual, who achieved so much during his brief life. Even Churchill demonstrated grudging admiration for him. Collins's drive and inspired leadership are rare qualities. He is the stuff of which legends are made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Fellow revealed., 8 April 2013
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Along with the Long fellow these were the two movers and shakers in the early history of the Irish state.Even today their shadows are still being cast,read both and take a balanced view. This is the definitive biography by a guy with a great feel for the subject,enjoy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good generally, 26 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
A difficult topic as the complications of the Irish politics of the time need to be explained. This does, at times, affect the flow of the book and one's concentration. Nonetheless, the book, in the main, flows well and parts of it are gripping. A good book.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The outstanding book on the Irish Revolution, 29 Sept. 2010
By 
Aidan J. McQuade (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
Michael Collins could lay reasonable claim to be both the father of modern guerrilla warfare and one of the principle founders of Irish democracy. The fact that he achieved so much before his tragically early death at the age of 31 makes his story all the more remarkable.

I first read this book shortly after it was published in the 1990s. Rereading it in 2012 I was struck by the breathtaking scale of the achievement in the writing: drawing on the accounts of members of Collins' Intelligence operation Coogan provides a detailed and compelling account of the intelligence war. In addition he provides a gripping account of the peace initiatives that led to the Truce and a facinating description of the negotiations that led to the Treaty. Probably the piece de resistance of a book that is overflowing with extraordinary detail is his account of Collins' Northern policy: here Coogan wields a wealth of evidence to present a powerful argument that when other so called Republicans were preoccupied with silly disputes over the presence of the Oath of Allegience to the Crown in the Treaty, Collins was, for good and ill, marshalling all his political, diplomatic and military skills in a desperate effort to achieve a united Ireland.

In this book Coogan draws on a wealth of published and unpublished sources and interviews with participants in the War of Independence and Civil War, many personally known to him in his distinguished career as a journalist and editor, to produce the outstanding extant biography of Collins that catches both his personal humanity and historic achievements. In the process his also produces one of the best single volume introductions to this period of Irish history: a gripping narrative relating to how Collins, with a small group of committed revolutionists and patriots, initiates a guerrilla war, breaks the power of British secret service in Dublin and then, at enormous personal cost, turns the military victory into the political achievement of a democratic Irish state.

Collins remains a compelling figure because of both his historical achievements and legacy, and because, in spite of his engagement in some brutal warfare, he remains a recognisably sympathetic and humane person through it all. This book demonstrates all of this and illuminates some of the the great controversies of Irish and British history in the process. The result is quite simply one the best historical biographies available about anyone. It is a veritable tour de force, stunning in the breadth and depth of its scope and utterly gripping.

A masterpiece.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Accurate Work on the Subject Available: The Definitive, 15 May 2010
By 
Colm Hagan "Mise" (Net herlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Michael Collins: A Biography (Paperback)
This book is the Definitive work on Collins. I have something like 12 or 13 books on the man in my bookcase, most of which I have read. I am a bit of a history buff with a particular interest in this period of Irish history. Tim Pat Coogan always writes extremely well-researched books. Anything he puts in book form is worth reading, and I reckon, from a personal viewpoint, that this is his major Opus.

Collins was and is an enigma. This book goes a long, long way to explaining the man, throughout his life from his earliest years. It seeks to explain, not glorify or romanticise the man. With excerpts from all concerned in his life, from Hannie his sister, to Kitty Kiernan, to Harry Boland to DeValera to Griffith to Lloyd George, all the way to his ordering the execution of Henry Wilson (British General) after the War of Independence had ended, this book covers the whole gamut of his life, although there is another book ('Dear Mick', I believe) that deals with the love letters between himself and Kitty Kiernan.

This book treats of 1916, the War of Independence (very often characterized either derogatorily or ignorantly by those who have no connection whatsoever to the situation as 'The Troubles', a term I would consider to be more appropriate to missing a month's mortgage payment), the Treaty talks and the Civil War, all with great detail. Now a word on the detail...This book is so well researched and divulges the figures in detail, but as an aid to understanding the pertinent situation, not merely for the sake of it. This is one of the best books I have ever read, a credit to historical literature and to Mr. Coogan, for whom, I have great respect.

This book is one you may give away, but will also keep a copy of. Buy it, if the man, the situation, the period interest you. If you are writing a history or otherwise non-fiction book, or are interested in Anglo-Irish relations, this book is a must. I can have no higher praise for this work.
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Michael Collins: A Biography
Michael Collins: A Biography by Tim Pat Coogan (Paperback - 6 Jun. 1991)
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