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Sinn Féin - A Hundred Turbulent Years
By Brian Feeney
The O'Brien Press - Dublin., 463 pages

This very readable and informative book gives the reader a history of the Sinn Féin Political Party from its' inception up to the cease fire. It tells how the many sides; Sinn Féin, the Irish Republic, the Northern Statelet and the British government, interact through-out the timeline. The author has lived this his whole life and the insight he brings to the story are evident. The period from 1981 up to 2002 was a confused period to live through with constant rumors and false starts. Mr. Feeney, a political columnist with the Irish News, is a leading nationalist commentator and frequent broadcaster on Northern Ireland affairs, explains the time quite readily and the reader will come away with an appreciation of what happened in the background. This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the story of the Sinn Féin Party and the Peace Process.

Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland 1890-1923
R. F. Foster
Norton, 463 pages

Easter Monday, 1916, was the culmination of decades of preparation, planning and dreaming. A period in Ireland not usually covered in the depth that R. F. Foster has done in his book, Vivid Faces. It was the beginning of a supposed free Ireland.

Professor Foster uses original manuscripts, letters and diaries from the period to bring to life the events and people. I met many new people involved in the Rising in this book; the times and the people came alive to me. I think I would have been happy living in the time before 1916, a time of great expectations. I wish I could meet Rosamund Jacob picking up cigarettes at Tom Clarke's store.

Finishing the book I had the sense that I had known these people. Although I had heard and read about some of them previously, and many I had not encountered before, this time I felt I really knew them. For the sense of being inside of the people actively involved in the Rising, this is the book to get. The book does not spell out the details of the Rising, there are other books for that, this is a view into the individuals' mind, and what was happening around them. One is struck with the fact that the aftermath and history were not kind to many of those written about. It changed my view of the Rising, from one of a one week battle, to something that really happened. I understand what was going on in the background, and why it was happening. I was much touched at the end, I am sorry for Muriel MacSwiney; who was estranged from her daughter, Miare; I am sorry for how the women involved were thrown aside; I am sorry that Rosamond Jacob, and others, reached the pinnacle of their lives leading up to and during the Rising, and became a lost generation after having reached their goal. I am sorry for what might have been.

Bulmer Hobson, a Belfast Quaker, a tireless worker in the cultural revival and in forming the Volunteers, summarized it all in a memorable phrase: "The phoenix of our youth has fluttered to earth a miserable old hen. I have no heart for it." But he also wondered: "How many people nowadays get as much fun as we did?" This book helps explain the background of how Ireland and the Irish Government are planning to celebrate, or not, the 1916 Centennial.

To the author, thank you, well done.