In 1916, Irish rebels took their desire for self-government to the next level, engaging in the open insurrection that became known as the Easter Uprising. Foster (Modern Ireland), the professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford, constructs a deep, intricate portrait of the generation leading up to the Easter Uprising, as examined through all aspects of their daily lives and surrounding culture. He covers the building blocks—education and recreation, arts and literature, preparation for armed conflict—and so on into and throughout the course of the uprising and its aftermath, declaring it almost inevitable: “During this era enough people—especially young people—changed their minds about political possibilities to bring about a revolution against the old order, which included not only government by Britain but the constitutional nationalism of the previous government.” Foster’s thorough, widely-sourced work focuses on “students, actors, writers, teachers, civil servants; often from comfortable middle-class backgrounds, and often spending part of their lives working in Britain.” It’s an authoritative account of a volatile period, but it’s written by a historian for serious scholars; the prose is dense and challenging, the material fascinating yet intimidating. For those willing to slog through the text, it will prove an invaluable resource. Illus. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/10/2014 Release date: 01/01/2015 Genre: Nonfiction
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