Monday, May 4, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 32 (Tim Pat Coogan)

Coogan, Tim Pat
The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeals and the Search for Peace


I plan to write one more wrap-up entry for my PEN blog, but I thought it best to get back to the business at hand, so here's the latest.

A few years ago, I read a book by sixties activist Tom Hayden called Irish on the Inside, in which he said that the mainstreaming of Irish-Americans into the general category of "white" Americans had shorn them of their traditionally more radical political position vis-a-vis American politics. It was a pretty interesting read and got me thinking that I didn't really know all that much about Irish history, despite having grown up surrounded by shamrocks and alcoholism.

Thus began a reading jaunt lasting several months, in which I attempted to bone up on Irish history. I think Tim Pat Coogan's The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeals and the Search for Peace was the next book I read after Hayden's. It's an extremely detailed history of Northern Ireland from 1966-1996. After a brief historical introduction to Anglo-Irish colonial and post-colonial history, it launches into a blow-by-blow account of The Troubles, beginning with peaceful civil rights actions and ending in a 40-year civil war that still won't lay down quietly and die.

Whoa--that sounded almost like a book review. I guess I am a little out of practice.

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