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Book Review: Michael Collins Biography by Timothy Patrick Coogan

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jul 1, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Book Review: Michael Collins Biography by Timothy Patrick Coogan

National hero and brave soldier or traitor and criminal serial killer?


Depending which party you are a member of or vote for in Ireland you might have a very different opinion about this very question. Timothy Patrick Coogan is a well regarded editor and author of books about the IRA, Eamon De Valera and obviously Michael Collins. The scandal in 2012 in which the United States Embassy in Dublin denied Timothy Patrick Coogan twice to enter the country renews the interest in his work.


Michael Collins was one of the major characters in the Irish struggle for independence in the early years of the twentieth century. He was active as the head of intelligence of the Irish underground movement, provided organized financial aid, planned assassinations on British spies and soldiers and took major part in organizing weapon deliveries from all over Europe. Timothy Patrick Coogan reconstructs his story by combining historical facts and eye witness reports into this biography.

The book covers Collins's childhood years, the Easter rising in 1916 out of Collins and Eamon de Valera's perspective, Collins fight against Dublin Castle by collecting information in the capital on his bike, the negotiations about Ireland's Independence between Collins, Chamberlain, Churchill and others and his final assassination in August 1922.

This biography provides insight not just about Collins but a great many of the characters who were involved in the fight for Irish Independence. The roots of the struggle between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the twentieth century can be tracked in the 432 pages and comments of the author. Coogan goes through great effort to provide the reader with the viewpoint of characters present at the major events.

Personally I found the book to be tough as it is very detailed. Sometimes Timothy Patrick Coogan stays in one given point in time for several pages making overall progress in historic events rather slow. The book is well researched and a good read. I strongly recommend to everybody who did not go through the Irish school system to dip into general history about Ireland first before getting this book. Furthermore the content left me with the impression to be biased in favor of Michael Collins over Eamon de Valera. The educated reader might want to consult a second opinion.


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