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The Green Flag: A history of Irish nationalism Paperback – May 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140291652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140291650
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 5.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Industry, insight, and massive research . . . enjoyably written. -- The New York Times

About the Author

Robert Kee is the author of twelve books, including The Laurel and the Ivy. He is also a freelance journalist and broadcaster, and has worked for many years in both radio and television.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Great book with a great overview of the history of the Irish revolution.
Micheal Graham
This book is vividly written, fleshed out with characters and facts that are dispassionatly but richly detailed.
Jeffery E. Mcculloh
This version has one or two typos per page, making the reading of the book a tedious exercise.
John T. Kennedy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery E. Mcculloh on September 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a famous and well reputed book. It has been in print now for almost 30 years-deservedly so I might add. I suspect it will still be in print another 30 years from now.
Robert Kee was a journalist and a famous World War 2 P.O.W. escapee. He writes lucidly and with great style, eloquence even. Yet above all his books are a darn good read. This book is vividly written, fleshed out with characters and facts that are dispassionatly but richly detailed.
This book follows the course of Irish nationalism from the distant past of the Tudor wars and Anglo-Scottish Settlements up through the rise of DeVelera.
Its true strength is in parts two and three which recount, in great detail, the growth of Irish nationalist sentiment (and rebellion) and land reform/Catholic emancipation, during the 19th Century. Kee demonstrates clearly the ever so slight, but vital, strand of personal connection that linked Wolfe Tones' United Irishmen to Emmet, Parnell, the Fenians and eventually the I.R.A..
Part three details the rise of the Nationalist cause in the wake of Parnell's fall and the rise of the I.R.B./I.R.A. in the late Victorian era up through the Civil war of the 1920s. This book painted very clearly the horror of the Black and Tan war as well as the subsequently even more nasty Irish civil war.
Up until the 1970s a great many people in Ireland would not even speak to each other because of the bitterness engendered by the latter conflict. It spawned Ireland's two major parties and the emotions, recriminations and even hatred caused by the Collins/DeVelera conflict still has significant effect today. This era also shaped the course of the present day three I.R.A.s (Provisional,"Real" and "Stickie").
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Earnan on July 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
A wealth of information and a lifetime of research went into this trilogy of volumes covering Irish Nationalism up to the formation of the Free State and settlement of the Border Commission. The amount of heroism, suffering, waste, and tragedy chronicled in this book is astonishing and often moving.

Kee, a former RAF officer and an Englishmen, certainly has his biases as do all authors. His description of the Easter Rebellion and it's aftermath are indicative of this. He doesn't seem to understand or adequately explain why the masses of Catholic Ireland treated these rebels as heroes and martyrs so soon after their executions.

In general, his main theme is that the problem with the British rule of Ireland wasn't that they treated the Irish as an inferior race or that they did not care about their problems, it's simply that they ignored the problems of the Irish until it was too late to avoid yet another rebellion or crisis. That is one take on the sad history of misgovernment, and one that I don't agree with. The British Empire viewed Ireland as a colony, and only thought of it in terms of how it could benefit England and the Crown. The poverty of the native people, their aspirations for freedom, their desire to choose their own government, etc... these were all things that didn't register with the ruling elite in London. They only paid attention when the Irish people gave them no choice, as would happen from time to time.

Due to the narrative being extremely well written and well researched, it deserves a solid 4 stars. It is an invaluable book which covers the confusing evolution of Irish nationalism from the birth of United Irishmen to the atrocities of the Civil War.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Molly on December 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read a number of Irish History books and this one is definitely not one of my favorites. I had heard people praise it for it's narrative style, but I really didn't enjoy it. It is set up like a novel, which gives the illusion of a narrative (long chapters w/out sections or headers), but it is too dense for this sort of structure. The amount of information covered almost requires more divisions within the content as well as other structural changes.

It has most all the information, just structure was not ideal.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Lewis on August 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
Robert Kee, contrary to previous reviews, is almost surprising in the objectivity he brings to a segment of history notorious for being incredibly emotionally charged -- historical objectivity rather surprising to find in someone that doesn't make history their calling.

His well researched trilogy sheds light on the tragic effects of English misrule in Ireland, as well as the startling contrast of nationalist myth and fact -- that militant republicanism, despite the whitewash radicals would like to use, succeeded more in spite of itself than anything, and that it is deeply unrepresentative of Irish political opinion. Indeed, the final success of militant republicanism can be more attributed to the extreme political missteps of the English administration in Ireland than the supposed correctness of their methods. Hardly the imagery painted in Republican music and myth.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that seeks an understanding of the underlying causes of the centuries of political strife and violence that have plagued Ireland, and -- despite steps toward peace -- may continue to plague Ireland in the future.
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