Richard Bourke and Niamh Gallagher (eds), The Political Thought of the Irish Revolution

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This book is one of a small number of volumes in the Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought series that is dedicated to a theme or a historical event (broadly understood) rather than a single text or author. It squeezes a Special Subject into one set of soft covers by making available extracts from thirty-one texts, most of which will be familiar to specialist readers. Extracts from book-length studies, notably The Framework of Home Rule (1911) by Erskine Childers, are joined by more occasional pieces, including short essays, speeches, and journalism that testify to the centrality of the popular press and public demonstrations to early twentieth-century Irish politics. Iconic political texts, since given the status of books, were often first read in serial form. Among those included by key nationalist thinkers and leaders are extracts by John Redmond, the leader of the Home Rule Party, Eoin MacNeill, the civic republican and joint progenitor of the Irish Volunteers, and Patrick Pearse, the revolutionary separatist. Most conspicuous are seven extracts from the corpus of the socialist republican James Connolly, a bounty that runs the danger of diminishing returns, though, of all the texts assembled here, they are probably the most influential today. Wherever Green is Red, as Mick Lynch recently reminded us, there is Connolly. The diet might have been varied with selections from P. S. O’Hegarty and Aodh de Blácam, who both wrote about post-1916 nationalism and are subject to excellent recent analyses by, respectively, Frances Flanagan and Sean Donnelly. British and Irish Unionism is represented by extracts from the writings of Leo Amery, Edward Carson, Ronald McNeill and, most importantly, A.V. Dicey. Of the seventeen authors included, four are women, all nationalists, including the historian Alice Stopford Green and the socialist republicans Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth), Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, and Louie Bennett. All are supported by good biographical summaries. The absence of language and/or cultural nationalists, the subject of much historical work, is striking. No W. B. Yeats. Given that the History of Political Thought is a relatively new field in Irish history, it would have been helpful if the introduction had explained these choices.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberhwad030
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Apr 2023

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