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A Brief History of Ireland

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  140 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
The story of Ireland has been wrapped in mythology and legend. Since its very origins, the island has become the home for a successive series of invaders—the Celts, Christians, Vikings, and Normans. And despite deprivation, desperation, and suppression, Ireland has developed an unwavering sense of purpose and place.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 24th 2012 by Running Press (first published November 1st 2010)
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Todd Stockslager
Jun 02, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Review title: Biography and natural history of the Celtic Tiger
In response to my reading of Leon Uris's Trinity, a historical fiction of Ireland's struggle for independence and nationhood, I wanted to learn more about the history without the fiction. This is my response. Killeen has written a very brief survey of Irish history from prehistory through 2011 in just 300 small paperback pages. With this limited space he necessarily focuses on the big issues of political history and the occasional co
...more
Elsbeth Kwant
Apr 21, 2014 Elsbeth Kwant rated it it was amazing
An excellently written, very interesting book on Irish history. I am impressed by the sheer intellectual effort, the compelling storytelling and insightful asides. The book focuses both on 'big people': St. Patrick, The O'Neill, Kildare, De Valeran and big stories' Catholic-Protestant relations, Anglo-Irish history, economics and demography, but without ever becoming just a boring summing up.
I have been reading this book in the sun over the Easter weekend, I don't think many history books could
...more
Annm
Mar 27, 2016 Annm rated it it was amazing
I chose to read this book in preparation for a trip to Ireland and finished it just in time. I don't know how long I'll remember all I've learned, but I knew enough of the history to appreciate what the 100 year commemoration of the 1916 uprising was all about.
Tristan
Aug 02, 2016 Tristan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A great tour of Irish history. I downloaded this for a trip to Dublin, and if anything I would suggest one can skip the first 8 chapters if you want to get to the meat of the dispute and skip the Viking/Norman conquests of the island. Or you can skip the first 14 chapters if you just want the last 200 years of strife. To Richard Killeen's credit, the book is incredibly modular: each chapter is rich in its own right, and his reference to movements makes it easy to pick up at any point. If one, fo ...more
Rob
Nov 22, 2015 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A super potted overview of Irish history from prehistoric times to today; capturing the whole subject within 300 pages or so is no mean feat and it's an achievement Killeen pulls off with no little wit. It's a balanced account too - the excesses of extremism are analysed dispassionately while the book's publication after the 2008 crisis which almost brought the country to its knees undoubtedly changes the perspective.

That Nationalism hasn't always been equal to Catholicism is something I did not
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Darrell
Apr 19, 2014 Darrell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently did one of those ancestry DNA test. When the results came back I was surprised to learn that I was 60% Irish. This led me to begin a further investigation into my ancestry and I also wanted to read more about Ireland. I knew very little but didn't want to tackle a full blown history text. So when i chose 'A Brief History of Ireland' I was expecting it to be concise. I was not disappointed and it was fun to read about a land that I had no idea I was descended from. I recommend the book ...more
Patricia
May 05, 2015 Patricia rated it liked it
A lot of history in a not so large book. I know this was a "brief history" but I did find myself wishing the author would have expanded on a few things a little further. So I guess you could say this book piqued my interest to read more in depth histories of the things I was particularly interested in. My only real complaint is that the writing style was a little dusty for me personally and too many times it went a little text bookish. Overall - interesting.
Bookwoman67
Feb 09, 2016 Bookwoman67 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A bit different than the standard "nationalist struggle" narrative usual in Irish histories. Very informative and seems balanced, at least up to the potato famine. After that it seemed to compress a lot of info and move at a much faster pace, almost as if the author's expertise was earlier history. Still, overall a good overview, especially if you already have the broadest facts of Irish history under your belt.
Candice Walsh
I literally threw up my hands at page 250 and yelled, "THAT'S IT, I'M OUT!" The offending word was "indeed," which I had counted 20 times by page 10. Is it possible to write a good history book without being fucking academic? If so, let me know.

This IS an insanely thorough look at Irish history, though...I have pages dog-eared and highlighted all over the place. But next time I'll just download the BBC documentary.
Jeff
Aug 04, 2016 Jeff rated it liked it
I read this in preparation for a trip to Ireland. Overall it was interesting and illuminating, particularly the early sections. Much of Ireland's later history revolves around religion, particularly the Catholic church, and I find most thing involving religion to be rather tedious and sad. But I loved my trip to Ireland! Except the beer. Some decent cider, though.
Vanjr
Feb 18, 2016 Vanjr rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This is a broad overview of the history of Ireland. It is organized in short chapters which is nice for someone such as myself who had very little knowledge of this history. It is not an illustrated book at all. There is a map in the introduction that is helpful for reference to those who are unfamiliar with Irish geography. Goes from pre-history to about 2007.
Rheannon
Mar 23, 2015 Rheannon rated it really liked it
Brief indeed, but if you are simply wanting to know a little more about Ireland it is a great place to start. If you really want to get into Irish History, I'd recommend reading this little guy first then moving on to more specialized material.
Becky
Aug 30, 2015 Becky rated it liked it
I read this book along with some historical fiction to get me up to speed on the history of Ireland.

I read lots of history, and struggled with much of this author's writing. The first half felt rather dry, but the second half picked up.
Kirk Coco
May 14, 2016 Kirk Coco rated it liked it
A little slow to start, but it does cover the entire history of Ireland. A bit one sided on some political issues and not very detailed on specifics of IRA actions. Still, a great primer if learning about Ireland for the first time. Frequent use of your Keurig suggested.
Cindy
Sep 27, 2015 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-general
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Cayley
Feb 08, 2014 Michael Cayley rated it liked it
A history of Ireland from prehistoric times to the present day. The book focuses heavily on the 19th and 20th centuries. I would like to have seen much more about earlier periods.
SarahJT
Jun 03, 2016 SarahJT rated it really liked it
Great background if you're travelling Ireland which, of course, has the most fascinating history from Gaels and Vikings to medieval sieges to The Troubles.
Cat
Cat rated it really liked it
Dec 17, 2013
Steve Martin
Steve Martin rated it it was amazing
Apr 21, 2016
Kevin
Kevin rated it it was amazing
Sep 12, 2015
Erin
Erin rated it liked it
Dec 04, 2016
Barrie
Barrie rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2016
Erin
Erin rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2013
Jennifer
Jennifer rated it liked it
Jul 19, 2012
Bryant
Oct 19, 2015 Bryant rated it it was amazing
Having never read any other books about Irish history I don't have any reason to not award 5 stars.
Claire Stevenson
It's a bit hard to get into, but I will persist.
Cassandra
Cassandra rated it it was amazing
Jun 06, 2016
Jeremy Stevens
Jeremy Stevens rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2015
Ryan
Ryan rated it really liked it
Jan 27, 2016
Chris Stone
Chris Stone rated it really liked it
Jul 29, 2013
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