10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: A Long Long Way (Paperback)
The Irish Government recently announced that a parade to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising would be re-introduced after a gap of over 30 years. As I write this, I have just completed reading a speech by President Mary McAleese where she rejected claims that the 1916 Rising was sectarian. The move is on in Ireland to finally come to terms with 1916, the two communities in Ireland, our link with Britain. There is also much written recently by writers like Kevin Myers about Irish participation in the First World War. Sebastian Barry's book is a timely contribution to the re-awakening of consciousness on this turbulent period of Irish and European history.
Even with hindsight of 90 years, it is hard to have a balanced view of where Irish soldiers serving in the British Army fit into our society. Reading this excellent book by Sebastian Barry gives us some idea of the identity crisis that many such soldiers must have experienced. It also gives us an insight into the horrors of WW1, though the book does not describe much of the action.
The description and terror of a gas attack is very powerfully written and genuinely moving. Barry gets inside the mind of an ordinary soldier (Willie Dunne) and successfully brings his readers along with him. One can almost touch and feel the horror experienced by the soldiers whether they were Irish or British.
On a more personal note I enjoyed the book and its links with South County Wicklow where I grew up. To think that boys/men from our own localities served and died in the war brings this story closer to home.
One small quibble - if you have read or seen the movie of Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" you will be struck by the similarity of both stories even though one is about a German and the other an Irish soldier.
Overall, this is a most enjoyable book and is worth taking the time to read. I found myself reading over some parts twice not because of any difficulty reading the text, but simply to enjoy it more.