Michael Collins: A Life

Michael Collins: A Life

by James MacKay, James MacKay

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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. (Jan.)
Library Journal
The movie Michael Collins has sparked a modest renaissance on the Irish leader. Mackay (William Wallace: Brave Heart, Trafalgar Square, 1996) illuminates Collins in all his shortcomings and glory. He underscores Collins's methods, especially his dominating physical size and his intense, sometimes bullying personality while gently suggesting that a more even-tempered leader might have achieved some of what Collins did without the abrasions. The author retells several anecdotes documenting that Collins was in poor health his last weeks and that his death was so easily avoidable as to suggest self-destruction. Mackay concludes with a bittersweet epilog, arguing that, had Collins lived, he could have navigated the failed diplomacy of the Twenties and would have led a united Ireland. Opinions aside, this book deserves to be read after the film is gone; recommended for academic and public libraries.-Robert C. Moore, DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals Co. Information Svcs., N. Billerica, Mass.

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Mainstream Publishing Company, Limited
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6.46(w) x 9.51(h) x 1.26(d)

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