Few countries in the world have such a compelling, individual, and stirring history as Ireland. This new volume, the latest in the widely acclaimed Oxford Illustrated Histories series, offers the most authoritative account of Irish history yet published for the general reader. Written by an expert team of scholars--all of whom are native to Ireland--this richly illustrated work takes us from the very earliest prehistoric communities and first Christian settlements, through centuries of turbulent change and creativity, to the present day.
Unlike earlier one-volume histories, which have tended toward oversimplification, this book emphasizes the paradoxes and ambiguities of Irish history, presenting a much more realistic picture. Why, for instance, are there such intense variations in agriculture, prosperity, and political affiliation in an island that compasses such a small area? And why do Victorian norms prevail in certain areas of 20th-century Irish life? In each chapter, the author marks new paths, redefining the preoccupations of the Irish and casting a cold eye on their ruling pieties. Overall unifying themes do, of course, emerge--and provide the familiar ground of Irish historiography: the shifting patterns of settlement and colonization, the recurrent religious strife, the establishment of new political entities.
The predominance of language in Irish life has led to the creation of a literature that is, in a way, a record of Irish history. A special feature of this book is a chapter that explores the interaction of Irish history and literature, what some have called "a bloody crossroads." The conflicts, settlements, discontinuities, and unities of Irish history are illustrated with a broad range of visuals covering the landscape, artefacts, architecture, and an enormous variety of contemporary material. There are over 200 photographs, including 24 full-color plates, and the volume is completed with reference material, maps, a chronology, lists of further reading, and a full index.
Wide-ranging, challenging, and highly readable, this vivid view of Irish history will instruct and entertain students, scholars, and general readers alike. [via]