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Posted February 20, 2010
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Short but Dry
1916 is far shorter than most of Coogan's work, likely because the Rising itself lasted only a week, whereas the Troubles (The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeal and the Search for Peace) could be argued anywhere from thirty to fifty years to far longer and the IRA (The IRA) has been in existence in some form off and on for more than ninety years now. The length does not make it a good introduction to Irish history for the casual reader. It is dry, spare facts, related in a prose style that is nearly a time line of events constructed into short sentences and paragraphs.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Of course, this is Coogan's style and an excellent one for straight history, which is exactly what 1916: The Easter Rising is. It is well-researched history, presented ably and backed up by reprinting many of his first-hand sources in the form of photos and orders. I was happily shocked to find a reprint of Padraig Pearse's signed surrender, for instance.
As an avid Irish hobbyist historian, I loved it and respect Coogan immensely for not embellishing the facts with opinion (although as a Coogan reader I'm familiar with his political leanings, they don't overpower the narrative here) or flowery language. The casual reader, however would probably be better served by finding a more accessible account of the Rising to hold their interest. I would even offer 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion (Irish Century) by Morgan Llywelyn as a fictionalized account. As Llywelyn says, after all, "History tells how events happened. Fiction tells what it felt like."