Sunday, June 10, 2012

IRELAND | War of Independence

Finbarr (Fin) McCabe at the Javits Center
At the BookExpo in New York last week, I met Finbarr (Fin) McCabe. Elsewhere, in my CityEconomist blog, I discuss his views on the future of the publishing industry. My photo of him is at left.

We talked a bit about Irish history in the 20th century. He is an expert on Liam Mellows, a Socialist Irish Republican.  Mellows led hundreds of poorly supplied Republican volunteers in Galway. He was executed by the Free State Army in 1922, after the Irish War of Independence. It was the same year that Michael Collins was killed.

(The Dublin Easter Rising by Irish Republicans in 1916, and the British reaction, turned Irish public opinion towards independence. It resulted in the election of many Irish nationalists, who formed the first Dail Eireann in 1919. British refusal to accept the Dail precipitated the War of Independence, which ended in 1922 with reprisals.)

On the Second World War–what the Irish Republicans call "the Emergency", since Ireland was neutral during the war– Fin recommended F. S. L. Lyons' book, Ireland since the Famine, and Antony Beevor's new 800-page popularized history on the Second World War, focusing on grand strategy in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, and stories of individual soldiers. The Independent's reviewer notes Beevor's extraordinary story of a Korean soldier who is taken by the Japanese, then the Soviets, then the Germans and finally by the Americans in the Normandy invasion. Beevor's story underscores both the chaos of war and how individual soldiers were caught in the vortex. The reviewer thinks that the broad sweep of the new book's canvas diminishes Beevor's scope for bringing home the fascinating details of his earlier books about aspects of the Second World War.

Although Ireland was neutral, Fin makes the point that during Wold War 2 the Republic sent the second-largest volunteer force to join the British Army, after South Africa.