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Modern Ireland 1600-1972

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  247 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Masterfully blending narrative and interpretation, and R.F. Foster's Modern Ireland: 1600-1972 looks at how key events in Irish history contributed to the creation of the 'Irish Nation'.

'The most brilliant and courageous Irish historian of his generation'
Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books

'Remarkable ... Foster gives a wise and balanced account of both forces of unity and
...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published March 29th 1990 by Penguin (first published October 27th 1988)
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Loring Wirbel
Sep 25, 2011 Loring Wirbel rated it really liked it
I read this in conjunction with Ferriter's 'Transformation of Ireland', and might have given both books 3's instead of 4's if read in isolation. When read as a pair, however, the books give a good narrative of how a colonial Protestant Irish consciousness of the 1600s, where a native Catholic view was considered all but subhuman, evolved into the bifurcated Catholic nationalism and Northern Ireland UK support of the current era. Both Foster and Ferriter craft different books than a traditional h ...more
Glen
Jun 11, 2016 Glen rated it liked it
It is long and it assumes quite a bit of prior familiarity with some hallmark events and political terminologies that a learned British or Irish reader would know, but for other readers it might be a bit of a slog. It is heavily documented and includes many footnotes about notable persons in Irish history along with the general narrative, which proceeds in straightforward chronological fashion from the advent of the Protestant Ascendancy to the modern "Troubles" and the dissolution of the Stormo ...more
Michael Bibow-Finucane
Jan 21, 2016 Michael Bibow-Finucane rated it really liked it
Foster's history of modern Ireland provides a unique insight into the diversity of Old Irish, New English, Norman, Scottish-Irish, and the many other varieties of "Irishness" that make up the people of Ireland. I found the diverse array of cultural and ethnic backgrounds to be a fascinating expose on who is Irish, and what that means in terms of being irish from the British colonial period from the Elizabethan era to the early beginnings of the Troubles in the 1970s. However, I also found that F ...more
adam
Aug 27, 2007 adam rated it it was ok
Shelves: irish-lit
While I love Foster's 2-volume biography of Yeats, I find this book incredibly difficult to follow. I think part of the problem is that he describes many things in a manner which assumes some knowledge of them. In other words, this isn't the best book for the neophyte.
Nick
Sep 29, 2014 Nick added it
Well, I tried with this one, but I only made it about 150 pages into this 600 page book and had to quit. The author assumes a much deeper background in European history than I have; I can keep straight what's going on with Charles II, James, and William of Orange off screen, but when the narrative starts asking that you already know the details about their various religious attitudes towards their Irish subjects, that's where I start getting lost. Probably a good book if you already know the mat ...more
Bruce
Aug 17, 2010 Bruce rated it liked it
Much more readable than Foster’s collaborative The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland, this work is more narrowly focused in terms of time span and also understandably more detailed. Thus, it is less an endless list of personalities, and instead is able to explain their relative history and unique roles. The footnotes are excellent, providing a brief biography of each major character as he is first introduced. And Foster skillfully relates movements and events to their later consequences, thu ...more
Ed
Jan 13, 2010 Ed rated it really liked it
"Modern Ireland 1600-1972 us a well done and well presented history of the economic, cultural, architectural, religious, military and political history of Ireland. Foster writes well (not always a given among hisorians, even those who write popular surveys) with a self-conscious literary style.

Running footnotes are very vaulable--instead of interrupting the narrative to tell the reader who someone is on first reference there is a footnote (separate from the Notes at the end of the book) at the b
...more
Paul Blaney
Sep 14, 2014 Paul Blaney rated it really liked it
Quite exhausting in its detail but I'm glad to have made it through this excellent history of modern Ireland. A revisionist account of the country since the Elizabethan plantations, the book establishes continuities, political and social, against decisive shifts, and examines how the Anglo-centric, Ireland-as-martyr story has shaped the notion of what it means to be Irish. Thought-provoking chapters re-examine The Great Famine, the influence of emigration and transnational Irishness, the Easter ...more
Simon
Mar 14, 2014 Simon rated it it was ok
The Great Famine receives little attention in this history, despite it being seminal for the period concerned.
Jean
Aug 18, 2010 Jean rated it liked it
Took me awhile to finish this. I'm not that familiar with all the characters and details of English and Irish history that I'm sure are second nature to a native and it just made the read a bit more tedious. That said, it is a good account, bigotry, terrorism, exploitation, sound familiar? Some things never change, sadly.
Angela
Sep 12, 2011 Angela rated it it was ok
Oofdah. At times, this felt like eating brussel sprouts but it was an amazing background book for my trip to Ireland. Well worth it to provide some context to understand what I was seeing throughout our two-week trip. Thanks for the suggestion, Jamie Wall!
Andrew
May 28, 2011 Andrew rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I am heading to Ireland next week and thought I should be up on my history. This book has it all from 1600-1972. Perhaps too much. There are tons of details. If you like those, you'll love this. I needed a little less.
Amber
Apr 27, 2010 Amber marked it as did-not-finish
Recommends it for: Irish history buffs
I am giving up on this book for now. I have been reading for months and am not very far. It is well researched and probably a great history book. I just don't enjoy reading non-fiction histories that are 700 pages long.
Bap
Mar 18, 2008 Bap rated it it was ok
Shelves: ireland, non-fiction
Ireland you might think is a no brainer for a historical account. But this is as dry as toast.
James Dargan
Oct 28, 2013 James Dargan rated it it was amazing
The most comprehensive book on Irish history within the time frame I've ever read.
Cody
Mar 10, 2007 Cody rated it it was ok
Though quite exhaustive, I found this rather dry. Definitely in the Oxbridge tradition.
Miriam
Jan 17, 2010 Miriam rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, celtic
Important revisionist study focused on different ways of defining "Irishness."
Justin
Nov 10, 2007 Justin rated it liked it
Good overview, though a little dry at times.
Laura
Sep 12, 2007 Laura rated it liked it
for school; very engaging
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Robert Fitzroy Foster, PhD, FBA, FRHistS, FRSL.
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