From Publishers Weekly
The son of a Turkish mother and an Irish father, lawyer and novelist O'Neill was born in Ireland, raised in the Hague, spent summers in his mother's hometown on the Mediterranean and studied in Britain. When he was 10 or 11, in the mid-1970s, he learned that both of his late grandfathers were imprisoned during WWII. Twenty years later, he took it upon himself to learn why. The quest to determine whether his IRA-soldier grandfather was a murderer and his Turkish grandfather, a hotelier, was an Axis spy took him from County Cork to the coast of Turkey, and deep into the "dream-bright horrors" of history. O'Neill's Irish grandfather, jailed for five years for IRA activities, shared an internment camp with Nazi and Allied POWs held there "in accordance with Ireland's neutrality policy." At the same time, his Turkish grandfather suffered psychological abuse and extreme paranoia in various British and Free French military prisons filled with Lebanese, Turkish and Syrian " `suspects and known pro-Axis sympathizers.' " During his research, O'Neill collected facts about everything from the poison used to eliminate the fungus that destroyed the Irish potato crop in the late 1840s to ethnic divisions among Armenians, Muslims and non-Muslim Turks in pre-WWII Turkey. Anyone interested in the Middle East, Ireland or WWII will find this account fascinating. Readers looking for tension, family drama and pathos, however, may be frustrated with the undifferentiated details and narrative detours that sometimes encumber this story of a grandson trying to connect with the grandfathers he never knew. Photos, 2 maps.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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From Library Journal
O'Neill, a novelist (The Breezes) and lawyer, writes a compelling family history interwoven with the politics of World War II. O'Neill sought the reasons for the internment of his Turkish and Irish grandfathers during the war, Jim O'Neill in an infamous camp in Ireland, Joseph Dadak by Britain in Palestine. He easily finds his Irish grandfather's IRA history. His Turkish grandfather seems a genuine victim until O'Neill digs deep and, like the British, suspects him of espionage. This is a voyage of self-exploration, a grandson coming to terms with family history previously forbidden. While the reader may not find the denouement as gratifying as did the author, the journey is worth the price. O'Neill's adventures in genealogy and the interviews he pursued keep the reader drawn close. Useful for academic libraries and recommended for public libraries, especially those with Middle East concentrations. Robert Moore, Framingham, MA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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