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The Anglo-Irish War: The Troubles of 1913-1922 [Paperback]

Peter Cottrell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 28 2006 Essential Histories (Book 65)
The Anglo-Irish War has often been referred to as the war 'the English have struggled to forget and the Irish cannot help but remember'. Before 1919, the issue of Irish Home Rule lurked beneath the surface of Anglo-Irish relations for many years, but after the Great War, tensions rose up and boiled over. Irish Nationalists in the shape of Sinn Féin and the IRA took political power in 1919 with a manifesto to claim Ireland back from an English 'foreign' government by whatever means necessary. This book explores the conflict and the years that preceded it, examining such historic events as the Easter Rising and the infamous Bloody Sunday.

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About the Author

Peter Cottrell is currently a serving Army officer in the British Army. He has recently completed an MA thesis on the Royal Irish Constabulary and is hoping to read a PhD on policing during the Anglo-Irish War. He lives in Hampshire, UK.

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Some believe that the Anglo-Irish War has its roots in the Norman invasion of 1169, which resulted in the kings of England becoming the titular rulers of Ireland. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is another of Osprey's useful overview histories of selected conflicts that may not be well-known to many North Americans. The author has a scholarly background in the subject, and he offers an unromantic portrait of the conflict that seems even-handed and honest. It will likely not appeal to die/kill-hard Irish nationalists, but others will profit from this title and the follow-on Osprey book by the same author concerning the Irish Civil War.
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Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hardly Objective Oct. 31 2009
By N. Cosgrove - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
First, I am not a big fan of the Osprey Essentical Histories. Too often one gets the impression that it is just a means for authors to squeeze another pay check out of their research and Osprey to get another title on the cheap by recycling material. Such is the case here, a lot of the material seems repeated from the earlier Easter Rising Title.

Secondly the author is highly biased, as a British Army Office how could he not be? You can't cover the Howeth gun smuggeling by the Volunteers unless you show the preferential treatmen the government gave the Larne Landing by the UVF. The author seems to excuse every travesty commited by loyalist forces gets down played as being "just a few" or inspired by "drink" as an excuse. The Auxiliarys are depicted as being brave (true) and often decorated for bravery in WW I(true), but the fact that many of them were suffering from what we would call today post traumatic stress syndrome and therefore probably the worst people to use in a policing situation, is again omitted. In particular the murder of Dick McKee, Peadar Clancy and the innocent bystander Conor Clune (whom the author doesn't even have the decency to refer to by his full name) by the Government Forces gets very short shift and a coat of white wash.

This is a very difficult topic to cover impartially. I will certainly admit to my biasis. However, when something is proclaimed as an "Essential History" you have to do a better job of balance than is found in this title.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The author is a British Army officer with outrageous bias May 6 2007
By Dennis Hallinan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author treats with utter disdain the Irish men and women who directly or indirectly supported the Easter rising and subsequent years up to 1922. It would be an exaggeration to say that poor writing and bias drips off every page - more like every other paragraph. His childish scarcasms are a bit much, too. After reading this light volume, I found myself wondering what criteria Osprey Publishing uses in its selection of specific materials and authors! Be cautious with other volumes in this series.

If there was half a star, I would have rated this trash as such. The photographs are of good quality and interesting. If the book was around $1.50 I would suggest to "consider" purchasing for the photographs.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE ANGLO-IRISH WAR: THE TROUBLES, 1913-1922 Jan. 25 2011
By Robert A. Lynn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
THE ANGLO-IRISH WAR: THE TROUBLES, 1913-1922
PETER COTTRELL
OSPREY PUBLISHING,2006
QUALITY SOFTCOVER, $17.95, 96 PAGES, MAPS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ILLUSTRATIONS

Osprey Publishing has produced, probably more by accident than intention, a valuable contribution to the literature of Irish military history. Peter Cottrell is a serving British military officer who, as the thesis for his Master of Arts, wrote on the Royal Irish Constabulary. From the point of view of Irish nationalists, both those living in Ireland and those abroad as a result of the British-produced Irish Diaspora, this work is equivalent of a crime story about a rape. One presenting the outlines of the crime through the point of view of the rapist. Such a volume would be, however, a valuable contribution to the literature not only as it relates to that particular crime, but for its insight into the mind of the rapist. As such, Cottrell's book is a significant contribution to the history of this war.

Osprey Publishing would have done Cottrell a service if they had more cleverly edited his introduction. His scholarship in presenting the facts of the war, as viewed from his side, fails him when he tries to place the war in a large context. He informs us that "some versions of Irish history have been so tainted with half-truths and fabrications that at times it is almost impossible to discern fact from fiction." Oh, really? Perhaps he can explain to we non-English one more time about Robin Hood, King Arthur and the Round Table, and the Princes in the Tower?

With his: "just as many U.S. perceptions of the American Revolution are distorted by their own foundation myth....", Cottrell takes a typical, and totally gratuitous, slap at Americans. It never ceases to amaze me just how the English seem to believe that they have a better understanding of U.S. history than Americans do. Correll also informs us that Irish historians tend to ignore the fact that the 1913-1922 war against Irish nationalism "would have been impossible without the support of thousands of Irishmen." He is simply incorrect in such an allegation. One reading the Irish histories of this period would have to go out of his or her way to avoid understanding the fact that the British government was the largest employer in Ireland. It is said that virtually every family had at least one member on the British, read that as "English" payroll. Cottrell should have at least had the decency to admit that this "support" was bought and paid for. Further, having taken the King's coin, many Irish were obligated by their religion and tradition to demonstrate loyalty to their employer, irrespective of their own feelings in the matter.

Cottrell goes on to relate how 200,000 Irishmen volunteered for service in the First World War. He doesn't mention the fact that Irish nationalist leaders were split on this issue, with many encouraging their fellow nationalists to volunteer. This in the unfounded belief that such a show of Irish patriotism toward the Crown would be rewarded in the post-war period. At the end of the day, Cottrell's history shouldn't be selected for a first read on the Anglo-Irish in the first half of the 20th Century. Nor should it be selected as the single reference on that war by a reader. But, for those who are familiar with the existing literature, this is an interesting, if sometimes arrogant, read.

Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard
Orlando, Florida
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short introduction to a long tragedy March 28 2012
By Rob Fitzgibbon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Anglo-Irish War by Peter Cottrell is an excellent short introduction to "The Troubles" that eventually led to the partition of Ireland and eventual Irish statehood.

Pros:

- Does a good job explaining the political, social and religious complexities of the conflict

- Eschews the Irish Nationalist/Republican myths that have grown about the conflict and is fairly evenhanded

- Documents how low-grade insurgencies contain no black/white, cut-and-dried heros and villians, but are a series of events and people marked by tragic ambiguities - as in the case of the scores of Irish Catholic policemen killed by the IRA

- Covers the small-scale ethnic cleansing/expulsion of Protestant families in County Cork during the 1920's. (Doubt the Clancy Brothers ever wrote a folk song about that!)

- Solid collection of rare photographs

- Brief biography of David Neligan is fascinating

Cons
- As mentioned, is commendably evenhaded about the conflict but occasionally strays into apologia for Great Britain.

- Only a couple of maps and one color plate

- Do wish that Michael Collins was coverered in more detail

Again, overall an excellent short introduction to a contentious subject. Recommended.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Civil War, By Any Other Name Nov. 9 2006
By Mike Dillemuth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Peter Cottrell provides excellent insight into this partially forgotten conflict. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the Essential Histories series, these books provide a short and succinct description of a particular war. As expected, the book is ninety pages long and contains a wide selection of black and white photos. The Anglo-Irish war was different than most conventional wars. Large armies did not meet on the field of battle. The Troubles, as this war was called, is much closer to a civil war or an insurgency. Without too much imagination, the reader can see where this period bears some similarities to the current conflict in Iraq.

Even though this was not a conventional war, the book still provides useful tactical descriptions on certain actions, such as the Listowel Mutiny and the Ambush at Kilmichael. Numerous organizations were created, fought, and later disbanded during this conflict. This can be confusing to the average reader. Cottrell, however, does a nice job of describing the evolution and activities of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Black and Tans, and the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) to name a few. The book also contains color maps of Ireland and its various counties along with tables of the number of wounded and killed during the applicable years.

Cottrell points out an annoying little fact that the Troubles were more of a civil war than a fight for freedom against the British invaders. Many of the Unionists were Irish. In other words, they were of the same ethnic heritage as their Republican enemies. A glaring illustration of this fact can be seen in the ranks of the RIC and DMP. These Irish organizations were clearly loyal to the Crown. Many historians also gloss over the fact that thousands of Irish took a break during this period to fight for England in World War I.

This book also provides an interesting example of information warfare, long before that term became common. Several Irish rebels were executed after the Easter Uprising. Britain exercised its normal right to execute people who fought against it during wartime (i.e.: World War I). Nevertheless, the British actions were painted in a negative light. On the other hand, atrocities committed by the IRA were often glossed over.

Some parts of the book are confusing, as the time line goes back and forth. A decent understanding of this period would be helpful to the reader. That said, it is still a nice summary of people and events that the average reader has vaguely heard of, such as Michael Collins and the Easter Uprising. The "Portrait of a Soldier" chapter talks about David Neligan, someone who fought on both sides. Despite a slightly confusing time line, this is a pretty good addition to the historical writing on this period.
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