by R. F. Foster
This books tells the politics, economics and general status of Irish society through the seventeenth century in an efficient and an excellent telling.
The author leaves politics and goes onto literature, beginning with Irishmen being in London, Swift to Sheridan. It is an impressive production of words, few about Ireland with little Irish influence. Most of those words were directed toward Britains, but they did not affect British policy toward Ireland. The author cites a source which he says is the best book on the literary production and subjects.
Next came chapters of cultural/sociological politics which is interesting. The British parliament made serfs of the Irish which the Americans no doubt knew and revolted beginning in 1765. British law had reduced Irish ownership to five percent of that island by the middle of the Eighteenth Century. There was a permanent underclass for the British to work on.
On the underclass were British owned estates of Lords, noblemen, genre and businessmen. Many estates were deeply in debt and administered separately from properties elsewhere: no profit, no investment, no improvement. For decades estates sat.
For a tedious, dull two centuries of life were a waste of time when rulers did nothing except quibble, harrumph and drink to the glories of the British Empire until the Twentieth Century. The British Parliament was talking about Home Rule for Ireland throughout July 1914. The death of the Austrian Archduke was not a significant event. The British prime minister liked long weekends when he could fish. British politicians were as petty as they could be. Forced into World War I unaware, the British left Irish issues to be unresolved.
The Irish had another way. By 1921 they had negotiated Free State borders with Northern Ireland and Britain.
This survey books tells all, but not in complete detail. It may suffer from flaws found in most surveys, but overall this book is an excellent place to begin studying Irish history.