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Ireland is inarguably a beautiful, enchanted place. But its history is more turbulent, fascinating, and terrible than any other. From the first English presence in Ireland in the 12th century, through siege, rebellion, and civil war, to Irish ascendancy, home rule, and the present-day troubles, best-selling author Paul Johnson tells, with remarkable clarity and concision, the compelling story of this most remarkable island.
I appreciate this audio book, and felt that I got a good basic overview of Ireland's history. I do acknowledge and respect the views that the book is mostly from the English point of view, so read reviews other than mine. My objective was to have an audio book on the subject so that I could, while driving, get a basic orientation to the history of Ireland, and I'm not trying to become an expert.
One of the reasons I was interested in understanding the history was to answer questions about how and why tension between Ireland and England originated, and I think this book helped me to understand that. Likewise I hoped to understand the tension between Catholic and Protestant, and I believe I am now somewhat informed about that.
I would like to find a book or other material that will help me to understand the people of the Republic of Ireland, and the people of Northern Ireland, and what life and viewpoints are like today.
I'd like to visit the Republic of Ireland, but not as an obnoxious drinking Yank, and rather as a somewhat informed student that hopes to learn more and to appreciate the place and the people and the customs and the history.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I came into this book thinking Irish historys would be the same as Scotland -- a celtic people trying to fight off the English. Wrong! Ireland, because it's an island, and because it remained Catholic had a much different, and much worse history.
Many interesting events here. How English invaders who stayed kept going native. How the 1790 rebellion was led by Protestants. How de Tocqueville found poverty in 19th century Ireland worse than anything he had seen in Europe or N America.
Recommend this book to anyone wanting to know where the 'troubles' came from.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Ireland?
It's written ENTIRELY from the English point of view. Example: In the first 2 hours there are dozens of quotes about Ireland, EVERY ONE of them from an Englishman. There's absolutely no effort made to present situations from an Irish point of view. This book is a rapid-fire recitation of the chronology of events that comprise England's efforts to settle and subjugate Ireland. The too-fast reader gives date after date of what the English tried to do to settle and civilize the wild Irish. There is absolutely nothing about Irish culture or day to day lives. It's just date after date of how the English did their best to come up with an "Irish solution." You learn about this commander or that monarch and the actions they took to advance English interests and domination in Ireland.Oliver Cromwell is portrayed as a noble peace-seeker who never harmed civilians. At one point an English commander is made to seem considerate because "he only executed 52" Irishmen.I can't imagine a more unbalanced or incomplete approach to presenting history. And, the reader at least enunciates well as she rushes to speed-read through this one-sided recitation of English efforts to conquer and control Ireland. I wasted a credit on this book, but it was one of only two books purporting to be histories of Ireland, and the other at 22 hours, was too long for what I was looking for.
What could Paul Johnson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
A more balanced perspective, not just everything from English eyes. Why were the Irish unhappy? The Irish come across as ignorant, savages and ingrates.
How could the performance have been better?
Slow down. Written by a male author and read ultra fast by a female voice, I really got the impression that the male author read the book but they speeded up the play to get through the book quicker making the reader's voice sound faster and higher.
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Ireland?
I would have added some Irish perspectives, the impact of British actions on the Irish people, reasons for Irish dissatisfaction. The book seems as disrespectful of the Irish as the English were for centuries, so maybe in that case it serves a purpose -- to remind the Irish of the English attitudes that resulted in their political and social domination by England.
Any additional comments?
Find another book about Irish history, skip this one.
12 of 14 people found this review helpful
Well done history with an amusingly original beginning. I wish it was longer but it covers its subject fairly well.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Very superficial view of Irish history and awful pronunciation of Irish family and place names
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Ireland in three words, what would they be?
It seems so old world. It has a history that gives my a need to travel there.
What did you like best about this story?
The way it is brought to life
Which character – as performed by Wanda McCaddon – was your favorite?
It is hard to choose one. It one was so riviting
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
What she explained about the struggles they had to overcome change.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful
I'm trying to read/listen to everything written by Paul Johnson. Sometimes, this book included, to a non-English, the references that are hard to follow. What I do enjoy about the book, is the authors analysis and listing of the historic facts.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
I was looking forward to what I hoped would be a compelling story of the history of Ireland. The book may be factually correct but it is ruined by the narrator seeming to rush through the book as if she couldn't wait to get to the end. It certainly could not hold my attention. To cap it all, Wanda McCaddon evidently had not researched the book beforehand as on several occasions she pronounced some of the towns incorrectly! Reminded me of the worse kind of history lesson ... could have been fascinating but ruined by the delivery.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book written by Paul Johnson or narrated by Wanda McCaddon?
Yes and no
Would you recommend Ireland to your friends? Why or why not?
This book, whilst interestingly written, is in essence the history of the English in Ireland. Little or nothing of the "native" Irish appears except insofar as they interact with Normans and English. After the act of union I felt it was a more integrated and satisfactory history. However if you wish a recent history of the "troubles" note that the book ends in the mid 1970's with a heavy concentration on c1964 to 1974.
What didn’t you like about Wanda McCaddon’s performance?
Couldn't be bothered to find out the pronunciation of irish names and terms. She pronounced the difficult "Gaelic " name Coalisland as Coal-is-land. Risible!