An Account of Murder, Mutiny & Mayhem Concerning the Affairs of the Blackest-Hearted Villains from Irish History

Joe O’Shea. O’Brien (Dufour dist.), $21.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-84717-299-0
Natural storyteller and Dublin-based journalist O’Shea brings the past to life in 11 accounts of the “bad guys” of Irish history. With the exception of the 19th-century body-snatchers Burke and Hare, the figures will be unknown to most American readers, making this more than a warmed-over rehash of familiar stories. Imbibers of Jameson whiskey will be interested in the opening entry about a family member who was also a disturbingly devoted naturalist: in 1888, James ‘Sligo’ Jameson found himself in the Congo, where famous explorer Henry Stanley accused him of buying a young slave girl just to see her killed and eaten. Jameson’s ostensible motive? To sketch an authentic act of cannibalism. Other villains are equally fascinating and include a pirate recruited by Benjamin Franklin to harass the English, and the pair of military men responsible for the 1919 massacre in Amritsar, India. Readers who like their history told on a human scale—and with a little blood and backstabbing—will be entertained and educated. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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