An exhaustively researched, skillfully written joint biography of
Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera, whose contrasting legacies
shaped the history of 20th-century Ireland. Collins was a brilliant
guerrilla leader who deployed selective assassination and deft
counterintelligence to cripple Britain's colonial administration of
Ireland. So successful was Collins at rendering Ireland
ungovernable that in 1922 British Prime Minister Lloyd George was
compelled to seek a negotiated withdrawal. Collins was a realist:
His token participation in the failed Easter Rising of 1916 taught
him that idealists made the worst wartime leaders. His lifelong
contempt for politicians contributed to his eventual break with de
Valera. While Collins was mercurial, quick-minded, and gregarious,
de Valera was methodical, slow-moving, and introspective. Irish
historian Dwyer argues convincingly that the Collins - de Valera
split was as much personal as political. Both men were ambitious
and often unscrupulous in attaining their goals. De Valera, elected
president of Ireland, feared Collins's popularity and control of
the army; Collins considered de Valera an untrustworthy demagogue.
When de Valera ordered Collins to negotiate a peace treaty with
Britain, a job for which he was particularly ill-suited, Collins
suspected a trap. "To me the task is a loathsome one," said
Collins. "If I go, I go in the spirit of a soldier who acts against
his judgment at the orders of a superior officer." When an
exhausted Collins returned from London with a peace treaty, de
Valera attacked it as pro-British and implied that Collins had
betrayed Ireland. Collins defended the treaty as a first step to
full independence. The debate over the Anglo-Irish treaty triggered
a bloody civil war, during which Collins was killed by anti-treaty
forces. De Valera would remain president of Ireland for most of the
next 50 years. An essential book for anyone interested in
understanding the personal and political dynamics behind the
fateful Collins-de Valera rift. (Kirkus Reviews)
This is the first joint biography of the two major figures in the
making of the modern Irish state. These two contrasting figures,
one destined to die, the other a long-lived patriarch, complemented
and contrasted with each other in the making of the Irish
revolution. This book traces their different backgrounds,
upbringings and temperaments in a fascinating counterpoint. Among
the reviews of the hardback edition: "T. Ryle Dwyer has had a good
idea here. Collins and de Valera bestrode...twentieth-century
Ireland like twin adversarial colossi, and much has been written
about them. Until now, however, no-one ventured to capture their
inimical, if inextricable, relationship in one book. This result is
fascinating." - John Boland 'The Times'.
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