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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No country for young men, 7 Sep 2008
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This review is from: A Long Long Way (Paperback)
When Willie Dunne and his mates marched down to Dublin docks in early 1915, crowds cheered and girls waved. Some men, like Willie, had signed up to defend Catholic Belgium; many hoped that their service would be rewarded with Home Rule; others simply did it to support their wives and children.

Within two years, the cheering would stop and soldiers on leave would be spat at in those same Dublin streets. These "Irish Tommys" had become everyone's enemy: bombarded by German shells, despised as traitors by Ireland and regarded as untrustworthy by the British, whose uniform they wore. The Easter Rising had changed everything.

"A Long Long Way" is a powerful novel about life in the trenches, strongly reminiscent of Robert Graves' eye witness account in Goodbye to All That. But it's more than that. In his earlier work, Annie Dunne, Sebastian Barry gave a voice to a generation of voiceless Irish women. Here, in the story of Annie's brother Willie, he speaks for a generation of young Irish men who died in Flanders mud only to be airbrushed out of history for the best part of a century.

This book exposes yet another unhealed wound in the shameful and complex histories of Britain and Ireland. The history (the real history) of this period is starting to be written, but perhaps the emotional impact can only be conveyed in the pages of a novel.

This is a novel to be read, reflected upon and wept over.
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hbw
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Location: uk

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