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on 5 October 2013
A beautifully written,hugely entertaining ride through 400 years of Irish history,following the fortunes of the Loftus family.Simon Loftus succeeds brilliantly in linking the details of life of a very important family, full of larger than life characters, with the broader themes of Irish history , which I now understand far better than I did before.
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on 28 September 2013
Readable description of life as a land owner in late 18th century Ireland. Ends in early 20th century. Not a history book, but educational.
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on 3 May 2013
This is a fascinating book, a rare combination of impressive scholarship and personal reminiscence. Simon Loftus writes beautifully, and he has an extraordinary eye for telling detail. His account of tracing over 300 years of his family's history is spell-binding, full of treasures and often extremely moving.
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on 7 June 2013
The Invention of Memory is completely engaging, beautifully written. The quoted documents are wonderful in their contemporary language. With the splendid illustrations they distinguish each successive period they bring the history to life. If you know too little of Ireland's past and its horrors at the hands of the English some chapters might make uncomfortable reading. A marvellous book.
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on 24 May 2015
An absolutely wonderful, gripping and totally absorbing book - written with such an easy style that it is like having a private conversation with Simon himself. He tells the tale of his family history - of adventurers who get themselves granted land in Ireland at the beginning of the English obsession with moving into other people's land and displacing indigenous people. He describes the absolutely breath-taking cruelty and distaind for anybody who wasn't English and how as a consequence thousands of people were savagely oppressed and killed in large numbers. If you ever wonder what the Northern Ireland 'conflict' was about - you must read this book. It is illuminating and tells the grizzly tale, in a mostly non-judgemental manner, through the eyes of a family doing what they thought they should.

The chapters are relatively short and are packed with interesting and bizarre stories about successive generations of the family. Ultimately the family reach dizzy heights in the Kingdom and exhibit an atypical degree of paternalistic care to the Irish and achieve some benevolent responses, but ultimately they suffer from role reversal and loss when the Irish assert themselves and take charge of their country. The savagery of the struggle for a voice and the absolute stupidity of English colonial responses disconnects Ireland from the rest of the British Isles and creates a generation of terrorists. (Please don't misunderstand me I am not excusing terrorists. There is no excuse at all for violence or murder). Simon Lofus sets the unpalatable truth - extracted from numerous family documents and wide ranging, painstaking research and weaves a story with consummate skill and remarkable ability,

A wonderful family history and an insight into the disaster of English colonial policy - I loved it and subconsciously slowed down my reading as I got near to the end as I did not want to leave the story behind and when I did it was sad. What greater tribute to an author?
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on 3 October 2013
This is both a biography of the author's family and a history of their involvement in Irish history. Written in beautiful prose, it recounts how his ancestors moved into Ireland in the 16C and how several of them took up high office. It is an honest account of their sometimes wicked, and often humane and generous treatment of the population and their own dependents. Simon Loftus has researched this book with scholarly expertise and at the same time made the text highly readable.
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on 1 November 2015
I have never read (or tried to read) a book like this. More than half of the text is taken up by footnotes. This is extremely confusing and I wondered why the author had not used his enormous knowledge of Irish history for a better purpose instead he splicing the results of his wide reading and research into a narrative about his Anglo-Irish family. The family history without footnotes would have made a good story on its own. There are two good books spoilt by squeezing them into this hybrid production.
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on 27 June 2013
The Invention of Memory is a wonderful excursion through history, illuminating more famous events of Anglo-Irish history through the delicious, inconsequential details of Simon Loftus's family. It evokes a clear sense of the texture of life and Simon Loftus writes with dancing elegance. It's a delight in every sense.
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