Michael Collins: A Life

Michael Collins: A Life

by James Mackay
     
 

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The most charismatic figure to emerge during the struggles for the independence of Ireland was undoubtedly Michael Collins. This remarkable biography, which draws on much hitherto unpublished material, charts the dramatic rise of the country boy who became head of the Free State and the commander-in-chief of the army.See more details below

Overview

The most charismatic figure to emerge during the struggles for the independence of Ireland was undoubtedly Michael Collins. This remarkable biography, which draws on much hitherto unpublished material, charts the dramatic rise of the country boy who became head of the Free State and the commander-in-chief of the army.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This biography of Michael Collins (1890-1922) is the first since Tim Pat Coogan's definitive Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland in 1992, and admirers of Collins will find verification here for their sentiments. Mackay takes us from Collins's birth in County Cork (his father was 75 when he was born) and shows how his childhood was influenced by the Fenianism of his father and uncles. He looks at Collins's 10 years in London working for the post office and financial institutions (1906-1916), noting that, through the experience, he came to know the British well. The author traces Collins as he fights in Dublin's General Post Office in 1916; his emergence as a leader in prison for the Easter Rising in 1916 (a "tiresome barrackroom lawyer" to his captors); and his return to Ireland to set up the IRA and his own counter-intelligence group. Mackay also examines the events of "Bloody Sunday" 1920, when Collins's security squad assassinated the entire British Secret Service in Dublin ("I paid them back in their own coin," said Collins); his part in the negotiations of the Irish-Anglo peace treaty and his own assassination. Mackay speculates that Collins and Moya Llewelyn Davies had a baby; focuses on his idea for a "Sinn Fein Air Force"; his threats to "invade" Northern Ireland; and his brilliance as Finance Minister (he shot British bank examiners). Mackay (Burns) has written an enlightening bio that will add to the legend of Ireland's "Big Fellow." Photos.
Kirkus Reviews
A stirring, comprehensive life of the great Irish patriot.

"If you think you understand what's going on, you're just confused," says a graffito current in Belfast. The same is true of Irish history, a sprawling mess of tangled loyalties and shifting allegiances. The life of Michael Collins (18901922) exemplifies the tortured, bloody course of modern Irish history. A kindhearted and warm man who in his heyday cheerfully ordered the assassination of political and military opponents, Collins rose to international prominence as a leader of the Irish independence movement. He had first emerged as a leader during the Easter uprising of 1916, in which hundreds of combatants and civilians died, and which Collins later rued as an enterprise "that was bungled terribly, costing many a good life." Mackay (Burns: A Biography of Robert Burns, 1993) carefully describes Collins's contributions to the Irish armed resistance movement against British rule, first as a guerrilla, and later as commanding general of the national army. Mackay is also good, for the most part, in recounting and analyzing the complex negotiations with England that led to the founding of the Irish Free State after a costly, vicious civil war in which Collins fell victim to a sniper's bullet. Collins's story cannot be told independently of that of his principal opponent, Eamon de Valera, who remarked after Collins's death, "In the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Collins and it will be recorded at my expense." That much is true, but Mackay does not satisfactorily explore de Valera's character and motivations, and he remains a shadowy and somewhat sinister force. Neither does Mackay deal sufficiently with the charge of other historians that de Valera ordered Collins's assassination. He concludes, probably correctly, that the ambush in which Collins died was not intended specifically for him.

Despite minor shortcomings, this is the best life of Collins now available, published just in time to coincide with Neil Jordan's film Michael Collins, with Liam Neeson in the lead role.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781780575025
Publisher:
Mainstream Publishing Company, Limited
Publication date:
12/21/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,284,433
File size:
1 MB

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