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John McCracken (Ireland)

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Roger Casement: The Black Diaries - with a study of his background, sexuality, and Irish political life
Roger Casement: The Black Diaries - with a study of his background, sexuality, and Irish political life
by Jeffrey Dudgeon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strongly recommended., 16 April 2016
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This is by far the most credible account of Casement that I have read - very well-written, and with an informed and sophisticated understanding of both his politics and his sexuality.


Ireland and the Eurovision
Ireland and the Eurovision
by David Blake Knox
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be Irish..., 10 Jun. 2015
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You don't have to be Irish to enjoy this book. You don't even have to be a Eurovision fan. The author uses the story of Ireland's involvement in the Song Contest over the past fifty years to cast light on the wider history of this unique event. Since he was present at some of the most iconic moments in its history - such as the birth of Riverdance - this is very much an inside story.


Escape from Babylon
Escape from Babylon

4.0 out of 5 stars I particularly like "Wild Bird" - which I presume is about Bob ..., 7 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Escape from Babylon (Audio CD)
This album has lasted remarkably well in the years - or decades - that have passed since it was first released. I particularly like "Wild Bird" - which I presume is about Bob Marley, and which has taken on an extra poignancy since it was written before his premature death.


Acts of Union and Disunion
Acts of Union and Disunion
by Linda Colley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GOOD ON PAST, WEAK ON FUTURE., 1 Feb. 2014
Linda Colley has written a concise and very readable analysis of how the United Kingdom became united - and where the structural faults in that political union may be found. She writes with subtlety and authority about the UK's formative history - which is admirable, given the highly compressed nature of much of her analysis. But, when she suggests some of the ways in which the British State might develop in future, she seems to lose some of her edge, and the various scenarios that she describes are rather bland and unconvincing.


Print of 'James Ussher, 17th century English clergyman and Archbishop of Armagh, 18th century. Artist: George Vertue' in Black Frame
Print of 'James Ussher, 17th century English clergyman and Archbishop of Armagh, 18th century. Artist: George Vertue' in Black Frame
Offered by Heritage Image Partnership
Price: £40.63

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WRONG NATIONALITY!, 23 Jan. 2014
The wrong nationality is attributed to the subject of this print. Ussher was Irish - born in Ireland, of Irish parents. He was ordained in the Church of Ireland, and did not move to England until he was compelled to do so, and had already served in Trinity College, Dublin, and as Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of All-Ireland.


Who Framed Colin Wallace?
Who Framed Colin Wallace?
by Paul Foot
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars PASSIONATE BUT NAIVE, 30 Aug. 2013
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Paul Foot acquired an enviable reputation during his lifetime as a crusading journalist who always championed the underdog against the British Establishment. Sometimes, his campaigns were seen to be not only brave, but fully justified - sometimes, less so. In the case of of the convicted murderer James Hanratty, for example, Foot was fully committed to a campaign to prove his innocence. It was a campaign that ran across several decades - and Foot even wrote an acclaimed book in which he argued passionately that Hanratty was innocent. When DNA evidence - not available at the original trial - eventually proved that Hanratty had, indeed, been guilty of the murder for which he was convicted, Foot simply refused to accept that verdict and continued to plead Hanratty's innocence. For me, this book falls into a somewhat similar category: it is abundantly clear that - despite his protestations - Foot is pre-disposed to believe anything that reflects badly upon what he conceives as a ruthlessly evil British Establishment. As it happens, I share some of his opinions about that Establishment - but I would question his tendency to assume that it is invariably involved in a range of super-sophisticated conspiracies. I find it rather more likely that British Army Intelligence agencies were characterised by their ignorance and incompetence when it came to dealing with Ireland - particularly in the early 1970s - rather than by some incredibly clever and overarching game plan. If they had not been so hopelessly at sea, I doubt if they would have come to rely so much on someone like Wallace who comes across - even in Foot's highly sympathetic treatment - as a pretty strange, not to say weird individual. For me, the narrative of conspiracy that Foot conjures up is ultimately not much more credible than the scenario followed in the enjoyable, but far-fetched novel, "A Very British Coup". As an Irishman, I find his understanding of recent Irish history to be fairly superficial, and also rather typical of a certain type of liberal Englishman - though I am sure that Foot would have emphatically rejected that label. Foot's heart may be in the right place, however I can't help but think that his critical intelligence has been blunted and compromised by his over-riding emotional desire to condemn the British Establishment - into which he had been born, but which he came to abhor with something that approached the zeal of the convert.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2014 4:08 PM BST


The Journalist And The Murderer
The Journalist And The Murderer
by Janet Malcolm
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars strongly recommended, 1 Aug. 2013
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This is a deeply provocative work - in the best sense of the term - and one which raises some basic questions about the trade of journalism. It is also extremely well-written.


A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice
A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice
by Malalai Joya
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars USEFUL PERSPECTIVE, 1 Aug. 2013
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As a personal testimony, this is worth reading - as it provides a useful perspective on recent events in Afghanistan. However, in terms of its political analysis, it is not so impressive.


All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
by Max Hastings
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, comprehensive and provocative., 18 May 2013
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No one volume history of the Second World War is likely to be without its faults. However, Max Hastings has written a lucid, compelling and comprehensive account of the War, and it would be unfair and disproportionate to focus on any of the minor errors that his book may contain. He presents his own judgement of a range of historical characters, and events - and, once again, it is not necessary to agree with all of his assessments to appreciate the critical intelligence which informs them.


Giants: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz: The Extraordinary Story of the Lilliput Troupe
Giants: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz: The Extraordinary Story of the Lilliput Troupe
by Yehuda Koren
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A REMARKABLE AND COMPLEX STORY, 17 April 2013
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This book casts light on some of the strange complexities of the Jewish Holocaust. It tells the story of a family of seven dwarfs that was subjected to horrible medical experiments in Auschwitz by Dr. Josef Mengele - who must rate as one of the most revolting creatures who ever lived, and a disgrace to his profession. Mengele experimented on this family of dwarfs because he was particularly interested in researching the biological basis of dwarfism. Ironically, it was also this preoccupation which ensured that the family survived their time in the death camp. Not surprisingly, members of the family developed somewhat contradictory and ambivalent feelings about Mengele - who had both tortured them, and saved their lives. Thanks to Mengele, they were spared some of the worst excesses of that death camp - as a result of which they were resented by some of the other prisoners. Even before their dreadful experiences in the Nazi camp, the family had lived a self-contained existence. That was for understandable reasons, but their sense of social isolation seems to have continued long after their release from Auschwitz.


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