Maurice Walsh is a gifted writer with a novelist's eye for the illuminating detail of everyday lives in extremis ... The great strength of Walsh's book is its breadth of vision. His book challenges parochial tendencies in the revolutionary story. (Feargal Keane Prospect)
Maurice Walsh's invigorating account of the revolution and its immediate aftermath starts after the Rising, and firmly locates the Irish crisis in the postwar Europe described by Thomas Masaryk as 'a laboratory atop a vast graveyard'. Vivid and incisive, his approach highlights discontinuities and contradictions among the revolutionaries. (Roy Foster The Spectator)
Bitter Freedom is a wonderfully involving work: vividly written, with a storyteller's eye for human detail and a scholar's sense of broader and deeper movements over time. Anyone interested in Irish history will find the book riveting. (Joseph O'Connor)
(Walsh) stretches the canvas of history into a beautifully realised story, one that is as human and cultural as it is political and military. (Neil Hegarty BBC History Magazine)
Walsh is a fine writer and has a novelist's feel for pace and colour; he bolsters his account with good storytelling and well-chosen asides. (Diarmaid Ferriter Irish Times)
What sets apart Maurice Walsh's hugely readable new book is that he places the political upheaval. . .within a broader European context, so we view the Irish revolution not as a stand-alone event, but as part of a wave of change that was sweeping across Europe. Walsh's book provides a fascinating and detailed examination of Ireland at that period. . .crammed with insights into the characters who shaped a revolution. (Dermot Bolger Sunday Business Post)
Maurice Walsh's book is the most vivid and dramatic account of this epoch to date: if you want to feel the full horror of Bloody Sunday in Dublin and the 'sacking' of Balbriggan by the Black and Tans, this is the place to look. (Paul Bew Literary Review)
Although this is a subject on which numerous books have been written, Maurice Walsh's work is unique in that it examines this period of Irish history in an international context ... History buffs should be right at home here ... Thoroughly recommended. ( RTE Guide)
The great strength of this compelling book is that it manages to make large and abstract arguments while conveying a sense of the lived experience of the Irish revolution. With one hand, Maurice Walsh widens his lens, while simultaneously he applies a magnifying glass with the other. The result of this dexterity is an arresting set of Big Pictures interspersed with a sequence of vivid miniatures. Indeed, the particular originality of the work lies in the striking conjunction of images. (Alvin Jackson The Tablet)
[A] vivid narrative with a reporter's ear and eye for a telling anecdote or revealing vignette. He offers ... a chilling impression of how law and order broke down. Walsh moves beyond ingrained Irish exceptionalism to set the story in an international context. (David Reynolds, Professor of International History, Cambridge University New Statesman)
Bitter Freedom is a new history of the Irish Revolution, placing Ireland in the global disorder born of the terrible slaughter of total war, as well as a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human face of the conflict.
The Irish Revolution - the war between the British authorities and the newly-formed IRA - was the first successful revolt anywhere against the British Empire. But it was not alone. Nationalist movements across the world were fired by the American promise of self-determination.
For too long, the story of Irish independence and its aftermath has been told within an Anglo-Irish context. Now, in a vividly written and compelling narrative, Maurice Walsh shows that Ireland was part of a civilisation in turmoil. A national revolution which captured worldwide attention from India to Argentina was itself profoundly shaped by international events, political, economic and cultural. In the era of Bolshevism and jazz, developments in Europe and America had a profound effect on Ireland, influencing the attitudes and expectations of combatants and civilians.
The hopes, dreams and bitter disappointments of the revolutionary years affected everyone in Ireland whether they fought or not. Walsh also brings to life the experiences of Irish people removed from the fighting - the plays they went to, the exciting films they watched in the new cinemas and the books they read. But the price of freedom was partition, a devastating civil war and the daunting challenge of establishing a new nation in an uncertain world...
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