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A Military History of Ireland edited by Thomas Bartlett and Keith Jeffery. Published by Cambridge University Press, 30 West 20th Street, New York NY 10011. 1996. Illustrations, index, maps. Hardcover. 565 pp. $49.95.

This is a superb resource for anyone wanting to understand the role of their Irish military ancestors in the broader social and political context. It is a major, collaborative study of organized military activity and its broad impact from the middle of the first millennium AD to modern time. It succeeds in putting the best scholarship in military history into its social and political context to provide a comprehensive picture of the Irish military experience.

Their are eighteen chronologically organized chapters written by leading scholars, each an authority in the particular time period. The opening chapter provides a framework for the book, giving an overview on the Irish military tradition.

Because this is a compilation from a variety of authors not all chapters are of equal strength. The editing has also not been as strong as it could have been. For example, three authors give contradictory information as to when the recruitment began for Irish Protestants and Catholics into the British Army in the mid to late 1700's. The actual date is an important fact for those seeking their ancestors in the army.

The last three chapters in the book cover the period prior to separation in 1922, the army in independent Ireland and the relationship of the British army to Ireland since 1922. These chapters provide good background reading for understanding the history and the context for the current situation in Ireland.

This is not a book to help you locate your particular ancestor. The book does provide the context in which your military ancestor lived, worked, served and possibly died.

Note: This book was reprinted by Cambridge University Press in 1997 in paperback. August 1999 prices are $69.95 hardcover, $27.95 paperback.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.4 no.6, 1997