Modern Ireland: 21600-1972

R. F. Foster, Author Viking Books $39.95 (704p) ISBN 978-0-7139-9010-2
In 1600, the Tudor kingdom of Ireland was divided by Gaelic chieftains, had a subsistence economy and was home to a welter of peoples, each of whom defined their ``Irishness'' differently. By the 1970s, when this massive, scholarly history closes, Irelanddespite three centuries of conquest and fissurewas a country with a powerful sense of national identity. The record of England's treatment of Ireland, as told by Foster, is dismal: intensive colonization via the plantation system, Cromwell's campaign of massacre and expropriation, forced resettlement of native landholders, especially Catholics. In this engaging revisionist chronicle, the author, a University of London historian, shows that the Irish potato famine of 1845-49, far from being a watershed event, merely accentuated the trends of large-scale emigration, agricultural decline and Anglophobia already underway for three decades. Foster casts a skeptical eye on turn-of-the-century cultural revivalists and the gropings of Yeats, Synge and Lady Augusta Gregory; the quest for ``Irishness,'' he argues, has sometimes fueled sectarian and even racialist emotions. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Paperback - 704 pages - 978-0-14-013250-2
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