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on 4 January 2012
Why oh why do publishers think that, while they offer a printed book with text formatted to both sides of the page ("Justified"), an electronic book should be sent out totally left-justified and looking like a total mess. Wasn't it worth getting the intern to spend a few extra minutes and do a proper job? Buy the paperback version, shun the Kindle version until the publisher puts some effort into it.
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on 22 September 2014
This is a dream of a book - deep and evocative, a carefully woven plot with characters we can touch, and prose that is sublime. Sebastian Barry is one of the most important and one of the best writers around today.
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on 18 April 2013
Having read 'Birdsong', Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy, and more WW1 poetry than I care to remember, this book still proved to be something of a revelation to me. I'd certainly never considered the lot of Irish soldiers in France and Belgium while their own homes were in uproar. Willie Dunne is an Everyman and it's through his eyes that we see the war. His experience is as you'd expect, but Barry doesn't shy away from giving us the truly human details like how poor Dunne pees himself almost every time he's under fire. This isn't a noble and heroic war story, yet it is.
I cried at the end of the book - "a richer dust concealed" indeed.
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on 18 May 2009
Read this book as part of my book club and it wouldn't have been a book I would have normally choosen to read. Found it a a haunting read that was beautifully written with touches of great humour but also very sad at times. I was not aware of many of the Irish issues from that time and would now like to found out more Irish history from then.
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on 1 September 2014
I loved this book at so many levels. The Dunne family. The conflicted enlisted Irish soldiers who come home to Dublin to confront the rebels in 1916. The relationship. One of those books that must be read right to the end.
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on 23 June 2013
Barry sebastion captures the atmospher of the time, particularly the time when Ireland was united, just before the Irish uprising. His graphic description of frontline Irish soldiers fighting for British interests was poignant and begs the question why did they do it.
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on 30 December 2012
Barry's novel starts beautifully and continues with a memorable mixture of the timeless fear, sadness and camaraderie of a soldier and the specific experience of an Irishman with conflicting and developing emotions at the time of the Easter Rising and afterwards. The wisdom of a son to affect a blinkered parent could have been drawn out further. It is a little too much like All Quiet on the Western Front in parts for me to rate it as five stars but a fine novel nonetheless.
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on 29 March 2016

I didn't think it possible that I could find a book which ticked so many of my boxes and yet disappointed me.

I have an interest in WW1, the history of the troubles, and usually try to read Booker shortlisted books.

From the cliched title to the rather uninteresting main character and the cast of walk on, but undefined others, this book didn't succeed in engaging me and for a short book took me a long time to read. Maybe if I had the stamina to have read it in one go it might have affected me more.

I didn't feel the full horrors of life in the trenches came across, and the action scenes didn't really paint a picture in my mind. I also came away with no real sense of living in Ireland or of the troubles. Maybe it was a question of pace, maybe of the author trying to cover too much in too little space. I can't put my finger on it but will now read all the glowing reviews to see what I missed!

Ok so now I've read the good and bad reviews. Maybe I don't relate to 'poetic' writing. I'm amazed that some people think this is so good and their comments have made me re-think. Yes I did get the sense of confusion in Ireland and I had forgotten how many Irishmen served and died in the war and not really given much reflection to how that must have been and I the book brought that home to me.

The critical responses too helped me define what I didn't like. The way Willie didn't seem to be changed by his experiences or lose his innocence, and the errors of detail perhaps explain why there was so little detail of the sort which enriches other books.

That's why I love these reviews. We respond so differently.
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on 9 May 2005
A Long Long Way is a story about the journey, emotional and otherwise, taken by a young Dubliner, Willie Dunne, as he volunteers his services to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, during which time rebellion strikes in Ireland and his relationship with his loved ones develops.
It is a genuinely moving book which I found to be a very entertaining read, and I would recommend it fully.
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on 30 January 2014
I learned a lot about the First World War and it brought home the horror of trench war fare. It also captured the complex loyalties of the Irish men who enlisted in the English army fighting on the side of the enemy while the volunteers at home were fighting the British
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