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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly readable book on Ireland's history
A highly readable little book on Irish history which is as useful for the student as for the general reader. A great examination of the culture and history of a fascinating country, taking you from the ancient roots of the country through to The Troubles and the present day, and encompassing aspects of colonialism, language, identity and literature on the way.
It is...
Published on 3 Dec. 2002

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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag
"All nations are an invented or imagined community, and the Irish have shown more relish for that fiction than most." And maybe the collaborators here could have benefitted from some of that enthusiasm.

The essays collected, ranging from the prehistoric to the modern (late 80's), are something of a mixed bag, definitely in need of some editorial indulgence...
Published on 19 Jun. 2007 by Edward Beach


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly readable book on Ireland's history, 3 Dec. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Oxford History of Ireland (Paperback)
A highly readable little book on Irish history which is as useful for the student as for the general reader. A great examination of the culture and history of a fascinating country, taking you from the ancient roots of the country through to The Troubles and the present day, and encompassing aspects of colonialism, language, identity and literature on the way.
It is contibuted to by a very good selection of academics, and edited by Oxford University's R.F. Foster.
An excellent book for anyone who wants to read up on Ireland's history without having to delve into a huge and worthy book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of essays surveying Irish history, 26 Dec. 2005
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MarkK (Phoenix, AZ, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Oxford History of Ireland (Paperback)
For over two decades, Oxford University Press has published a series of surveys of various topics of history. Consisting of a collection of essays by leading scholars, they possess both the strengths and deficiencies of this approach – while authoritative introductions to their topics, the quality of the writing and the focus can often vary widely. A good editor can mitigate these weaknesses while preserving their strengths, and it is a testament to the efforts of Roy Foster that this volume on the history of Ireland is as good as it is.
This book presents the history of Ireland in six chapters – five covering Ireland’s past from the prehistoric period to the 1980s, and a sixth that addresses the topic of 'Irish Literature and Irish History,' a focus unique in the series. Each of these chapters provides a good overview to their respective eras, addressing political, economic, and social developments over the centuries. Some of the essays are inevitably stronger than others – I thought that Donnchadh O’Corrain’s account of prehistoric and early Christian Ireland was especially clear and illuminating, while Katharine Simms’s chapter on the island in the Middle Ages suffered from its excessive focus on the politics of the period – the book overall provides a reliable and insightful account of the span of Irish history. My only wish would be for a more thoroughly revised edition, one that would take into account both the recent developments in Irish history (David Fitzpatrick's comment that Ireland was 'likely to remain' among 'the poorest parts of western Europe' is particularly glaring in light of the island’s economic emergence as the 'Celtic tiger') and the titles that have since been published reflecting Ireland’s maturing study of its past.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag, 19 Jun. 2007
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This review is from: The Oxford History of Ireland (Paperback)
"All nations are an invented or imagined community, and the Irish have shown more relish for that fiction than most." And maybe the collaborators here could have benefitted from some of that enthusiasm.

The essays collected, ranging from the prehistoric to the modern (late 80's), are something of a mixed bag, definitely in need of some editorial indulgence. Too often I felt pushed along, past surely important issues and people who, for a few paragraphs, would have given the `comprehensive and authoritative survey' lauded on the back cover but, for me, unfulfilled. Katherine Simms' chapter on Norman Ireland, the best (worst?) example, descends into a succession list of obscure and ephemeral petty-chiefs who occlude any larger socio-political comprehension and eclipse the general condition of the peasantry to the extent that even the Black Death is only referred to in passing. To an extent, land-tied lives are much the same across countries and centuries (bloody squalor), so, yes, by focusing on the specifically Irish quota of kings and property, laws and wars, the book does what it says on the tin. But cold autopsies rarely make a good read, and it's only until we get to the final chapters (Declan Kiberd's on Literature & History especially) that we are allowed continuous accounts involving people rather than names.

To be fair though, writing over 2000 years of history into less than 300 pages is about as foolish a feat as any, and hoping to understand a countries peoples and places in a week is equally so on my part. So for students of Irish history, who'll go on to more involved accounts of the "apparent debacle of Jacobitism in 1745", or those "endemic rural secret societies", which are here ever and so so frustratingly only ever alluded to as though we already knew, I imagine this volume will be a god-send of context and quick-reference; for you, this is good, buy now with your pennies. But but, looking for an enjoyable read and some memorable facts about the Battle of the Boyne and that Parnell guy who wot did dat fing, I say Pah! to you and your miserable fact-loving, name-bleating recital. Yeats' Book of Irish Verse, with its poems on crispy-pancake-loving leprechauns and incessant defeat, makes much more sense to me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Oxford History of Ireland (Paperback)
Excellent, prompt delivery, 5 stars *****
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The Oxford History of Ireland
The Oxford History of Ireland by R. F. Foster (Paperback - 25 Oct. 2001)
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