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MOSTLY ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF IRISH TRADE UNIONISM TO 1916,
This review is from: James Connolly: A Full Life (Hardcover)
Donal Nevin has written an 840 page tome, which mostly comprises quotations from Connolly's published works on the development of trade unionism in Ireland up to Connolly's death in 1916.
This book is most suited to historians or those with a special interest in the minutae of that subject. It is definitely not light reading and those interested in an introduction to the life of James Connolly should look elsewhere for a more general biography.
Donal Nevin spent 40 years working in Irish trade unionism, which explains his passion for the subject. Clearly years of research went into this major work, which will no doubt be a useful reference point for future historians. He has given meticulous attention to detail, which, depending on your viewpoint, could either be the downfall or the making of this book.
There are some interesting insights into Connolly's associations with his famous contemporaries, such as James Larkin, Maud Gonne and W.B.Yeats. There is an interesting account of the 1916 Easter Rising and some poignant moments in the pages describing Connolly's last days, particularly the account of his last meeting with his wife.
However, on balance, this book is far too long. The vast tracks of quotations crowd each other and often the point of including quotations is unclear. Despite its length, Nevin gives only cursory mentions to Connolly's relations with the Nationalist Leaders of the time until very late in the book. Contrasted with the coverage given to trade unionism, this is a surprising imbalance given that Connolly was executed as a Nationalist Leader.
In summary, it is unlikely that this book will be read by many who do not already have a specialised interest in Irish trade unionism.