Ireland, 1912-1985 is the first study on this scale of Irish performance, North and South, in the twentieth century. Although stressing the primacy of politics in Irish public affairs, it argues that Irish politics must be understood in the broad context of economic, social, administrative, cultural and intellectual history. The book also explores fully the relationship between rhetoric and reality in the Irish mind, and sees political behaviour largely as a product of collective psychology. The 'Irish experience' is placed firmly in a comparative context. Therefore the book seeks to assess the relative importance of British influence and of indigenous impulses in shaping an independent Ireland, and to identify the relationship between personality and process in determining Irish history. Particularly close attention is paid to the role of individuals such as Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, W. T. Cosgrove, Sir James Craig, J. J. McElligott, Sean Lemass, Terence O'Neill, and Ian Paisley, and to the limits within which even the most powerful personalities were forced to operate. This is by any standards a massive analytical study, of the first importance, which will become required reading by all who wish to deepen their understanding of the nature of modern Irish history and the way it has been shaped by the collective and individual personality.
' ... one of the great books of our time ... proves once again that Ireland is a fascinating country since it has given birth to such a fascinating book.' Owen Dudley Edwards, New Statesman and Society ' ... a quite remarkable achievement ... Some prospective readers may shrink from so big a book. They should not do so, for its pace is even more impressive than its size. (Lee) is concerned not merely with describing the Irish past but, much more, with prescribing for the Irish present and for the Irish future.' Ronan Fanning, Sunday Independent 'While its a massive analytical study, Lee has also written with wit, and it is a must for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge of modern Irish history. Lee's sceptical eye is matched with great verve and insight. ' Irish Examiner