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Ireland, 1912-1985: Politics and Society Paperback – January 26, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0521377416 ISBN-10: 0521377412

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Editorial Reviews


"This excellent study provides a comprehensive account of all economic, cultural and political developments in Ireland rom 1912 to 1985. As such it is a valuable reference book to this period fo Irish history." Irish Echo

"...a detailed, analytical study of 20th-century Ireland, North and South, that is of major importance." C.W. Wood, Jr., Western Carolina University, in Choice

"This book constitutes a major scholarly achievement for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is the first time anyone has produced a detailed and comprehensive history of twentieth century Ireland...Lee's work does all the things that a good general history should do, and then some." British Politics Group

"A seminal, thoroughly researched study of modern Ireland. Immensely readable." Irish Edition

"The book will have admirers and detractors but few will dispute the historiographical impact it will have upon historical monographs for at least another generation. And that has been Lee's enviable hallmark." Irish Literary Supplement.

"Ireland 1912-1985 is a perceptive and at times brilliant analysis of Ireland's performance as an independent nation. It teems with insights on everything from popular mentalities to the rise of the historical profession in Ireland. Despite its massive size, it is never boring....no one seriously interested in the history of Ireland in the twentieth century will want to miss this book." Albion

Book Description

Although it stresses the primacy of politics in Irish public affairs, this study argues that Irish politics must be interpreted within the broader context of economic, social, administrative, cultural and intellectual history.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 778 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 26, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521377412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521377416
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,129,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Toby Joyce on October 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
It is sad that the most read Irish historian outside Ireland happens to be the Republican fellow-traveller, Tim Pat Coogan. Then, Coogan seems to aim mostly at the Irish-American market. It is sad because Coogan's bias is not widely recognised, whereas if it was, his books would probably be subjected to more than unthinking acceptance. For me, Joe Lee is by far the greater historian, and this work by him beats anything of Coogans into a cocked hat. Not that they disagree overmuch, Lee is also a Nationalist writer, but his judicious weighing of the evidence and his unblinkered and unwavering devotion to historical truth make him by far the better of the two as a writer and a professional historian. One place where they disagree is on the position of De Valera, whom Coogan has dethroned from his former eminence among 'constitutional' Republicans. Lee supplies a far more sympathetic and truthful analysis of 'the Long Fellow'. Another area where American readers may be surprised is the short shrift given to Sean McBride, later a leading light of Amnesty International and a recognised 'jet-set liberal'. However, McBrides interventions in domestic Irish politics were mostly inept and disastrous for this followers and friends. Also for a believer in religious liberty, he was obsequious to the Catholic church in a most apalling fashion. Therefore, read this book to have your expectations challenged, and old opinions undermined. Possibly, the best Irish historical work to emerge from the 20th century, and a book that will be recognised as such.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Well researched and entertaining, this is the most readable work yet written on the subject of Ireland's painful progress since the early part of the century. The closing sections of Lee's opus contain some intuitive conclusions about his fellow countrymen, particularly the sections entitled 'Character' and 'Perspectives'. Scholarly guff on the subject of Ireland's breach birth and subsequent delinquency are rarely the stuff of bedtime reading but this is easy on the brain, partly due to Lee's strictly logical approach to his theme and partly because of his enormous skill as a writer. If you want a book on Ireland that doesn't read as though it were written by some OAP in a tweed G-string who hasn't seen sunlight since 1965, this is the one for you. Terrific.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G M on January 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't be fooled by the featureless cover and the matter-of-fact title. This is a beautifully written, cogently reasoned and very witty book about modern Ireland. When I bought it, I thought it might be just a slab of hard information: I was so pleasantly surprised by its polished prose and mordant humour.

When I was a teenager J.J. Lee appeared one night as a guest on Ireland's famous 'Late Late Show' to discuss this new book. Gay Byrne introduced the volume as having much to say about Irish begrudgery. Lee, without being at all plaintive, swiftly explained that for much of the twentieth century people in Ireland were gripped by a mentality that saw success as a form of opprobrious craftiness, never something to emulate. In the book he attributes this national character defect to 'the primacy and the tenacity of the possessor rather than the performer ethic.' [p. 528] Fault-finding, he explained on the show, was a national pastime, and added: 'I can guarantee you that right now, there are people going through this book like sniffer dogs, and when they find a mistake, their day is made.'

During my years at college in the early nineties, Lee's book appeared on our Soc & Pol curriculum; and at about the same time Lee gave some fascinating interviews for a documentary series entitled 'The Irish condition'. It has taken until recently, however, for me to get around to tackling this volume. But how rewarding it has been.

Lee combines an excellent panoramic sweep of Irish twentieth-century life with a remorseless assessment of how the country has performed when judged against similar European nations. Finland, for example, [see p.
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