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Mick: The Real Michael Collins Paperback – January 30, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038542
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hart (The I.R.A. and Its Enemies) is to be commended for his research, but his revisionist view of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins (1890–1922) is fraught with misconceptions. For example, he describes how dispirited the "G" Division (or Special Branch, in charge of political intelligence) of the Dublin Metropolitan Police was in 1919, giving the impression that its members were harmless—and innocent. Yet later on he says the "Special Branch was indeed responsible for murder and torture." This is key to the legacy of Collins, which completely eludes Hart. Collins knew he could not win the revolution on a grand scale. Thus, the battle for Ireland's freedom would come down to an event known as "Bloody Sunday." On November 21, 1920, agents of Collins's infamous Squad assassinated 14 British secret service agents in one morning. Hart dismisses the importance of Bloody Sunday—he gives it two pages— as a messy, almost fruitless endeavor. But the Fenian math is irrefutable: 700 years of British occupation ended within 54 weeks of Bloody Sunday. Hart has an irritating way of inserting himself into the biography, throwing in asides that only lessen the effect of the narrative. This book is best utilized after reading the outstanding biographies of Collins (such as Tim Pat Coogan's Michael Collins), which allow the reader to at least put Hart's assumptions into proper historical perspective. Map. (Feb. 20)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A triumph . . . Insights abound . . . Reads like a le Carre thriller. (The Irish Book Review)

This is the book that will unquestionably be the starting point for all future reflections on Collins. (The New Republic)

[Hart] succeeds in demystifying a legend. (The Boston Sunday Globe)

A fine biography . . . written with immense verve. (The New York Times Book Review)


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Customer Reviews

I would say yes.
David Mulholland
I would not recommend this book to anyone who wants an understanding of the period and what shaped the times.
Chesapeake
The book is interesting at times but more speculation than fact.
Sinead de Burca

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael Robinson on May 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As prior commentators have noted, Hart has a grasp of the detail of Collins early years and London life greater than any that has appeared in print. Hart's point of view is clear; Collins was power hungry, manipulative and driven - is any successful politician not! His enormous administrative skill, particularly in a person with little forma education, Hart dams with the feint praise that Collins was perhaps better suited to be a skilled auditor and accountant than politician and statesman. In Hart's account what fails to be made clear, apart from just context, is the energy and organizational abilities of the man in running successfully the multiple interlocking organizations that he created from almost nothing in circumstances post the Easter Rising that were far from ideal and riven with factional disputatiousness; in the twentieth century revolutionary and insurrectional logistics have not been easy for even the great powers with infinite resources to manage with any degree of success. Most of all, Hart does mention en passant but fails to convey any understanding of overall context, either in the narrow sense of the various groups who required managing; the chaos created by the troubles; or the wider British domestic and imperial politics. A work that contains much factual information but fails as a biography to convey anything of Collins' achievement understood in the context of his origins or his times.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Maire Collins on August 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Having studied this period of Irish History intensely I looked forward to this new contribution to the War of Independence/Civil War history. Within a few pages I discovered that I had purchased a book whose author seemed bent on destroying the reputation of a man who nearly singlehandedly turned the course of Irish history (and indeed world history). No dig is left undug and no innuendo is too low in this corrupted work. Although there are factual tidbits thrown in, they are not consequential. If you have an interest in this book borrow it. Do not pay good money to an author who would desecrate the memory of a great leader. By all means read it if you must, but read other works by Coogan, Forester, O'Connor, MacKay, Nelson and even Beaslai to inform yourself lest you be taken in by this unbalanced author. This book will soon relegated to the trash bin where it belongs.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sinead de Burca on September 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Hart takes simple statements and events and interprets them to mean what he appears to want them to mean, interpretations that are very often quite a stretch with little, if any, sense of historical context taken into consideration. The book is interesting at times but more speculation than fact. While reading "MICK" I had the constant feeling that the author had an agenda, so much so that it became annoying, as though I were reading not a biography but propaganda.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Chesapeake on November 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to see why Hart inserts himself so much into the text of this book until the reader realizes that Hart seems to want to get to a point and seems to be mindless about how he gets there. For example, he tries to give an impression that the police were innocent and at the same time admits that "Special Branch was indeed responsible for murder and torture." Far from viewing him as merely another revisionist I was left with the impression that Hart has an old imperial view of history - pro British - and fails to see the actual basis of what was actually going on in the Irish war of independence. The important issue is not who was the more violent but what were the actual issues, political and social that were involved. I would not recommend this book to anyone who wants an understanding of the period and what shaped the times. Better take up the Tim Pat Coogan book on Collins.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Schweissinger on June 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Hart spends all his time trying to deconstruct the memory of Michael Collins. I couldn't stand it. For anyone looking for the "real story," stick with Coogan or Mackay. But leave this trashy book alone. Collins never set out to be a hero. He was simply a man who made the best of some really difficult times in the only ways he could. I think it is unfair to hold him up with some of the other great men of the 20th century. The man was not a saint and that's a fact, but leave The Big Fella alone!!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mark R. Cavanaugh on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I took this book to Ireland with me to read during a recent vacation. For my education, I asked people everywhere I ventured, from museum officials to local people in pubs and on golf courses, about Michael Collins. Mr. Hart, Michael Collins batted 1.000 and he is remembered as Ireland's greatest modern era hero. Collins brilliantly ran the whole operation compelling Great Britain to hand over the keys to Dublin Castle. When he signed the treaty with Britain, he acknowledged he had signed his own death warrant. What his brave man accomplished before his death at 31 is more than remarkable. In Ireland, he is a man for the ages. The writer has done better with other subjects and should have left this one alone.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Donegal Dan on June 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an interesting read and full of the personality of Michael Collins. Unfortunately, it is also full of the personality and the mis- or pre- conceptions of Peter Hart, its author, who, apparently, wishes to leave the reader with the impression that Michael Collins was just a good administrator with an overreaching desire for power who has been overrated as a dynamic force in Ireland's history. I wonder if Hart really read some of the books from which he allegedly draws his conclusions. For instance, he seems to regard Collins merely as a power-mad politician with little protential as a statesman or a post-civil war leader of his country. From what I've read in more reliable and balanced biographies of the man, nothing could be farther from the truth. And to anyone who has read Collins' own writings, it is ludicrous to say that he was only a politician. Hart completely misses the deeper side of Collins--his anguish at the prospect of the civil war and the inevitable conflict with former comrades that it brought; his concern with the partition of the country which he could not, despite his best efforts, rectify with the treaty that brought independence to most of his country; his dispair at being unable to satisfy all elements of the IRA that he had led; his statesmanship in dealing with the British at the bargaining table and the respect he earned from them despite his reputation as a "gunman". Michael Collins was much, much more than an able but ruthless (Hart's favorite word for him) administrative genious. While he (Collins) has certainly gained great reknown in recent times and perhaps been lionized excessively, anyone who wants an accurate picture of the man and his many talents should read Tim Pat Coogan's biography or that of James Mackay or Margery Forester. Hart seems to be intent on debunking the Collins "mystique" rather than truly presenting the real Mick.
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