By Thomas Bartlett
Cambridge University Press, $55.00, 625 pages

If you are interested in learning more than you ever wanted to know about Ireland and its sinewy history then, Ireland: A History is the book for you. This hefty historical accounting of a controversial, ancient, dissonance and often volatile and misunderstood country will enthrall and engage readers fascinated with history and biographies. However, very few pictures, artifacts and maps scattered through the pages and pages of history make it more of a study rather than an enjoyable weekend read.

Beginning with Early Ireland from AD 431 to 1169, author and historian, Thomas Bartlett meticulously takes us on a journey marinated in history through the events of this nation from governmental viewpoints to religious origins, separations, and finally to the hubris and nemesis of the two very divided Irelands in 1945 to 2010. Key religious leaders’ and government officials’ biographical excerpts are fascinating to the end, learning more about Ireland’s true beginnings and understanding the how and why it is the divided country it is now sheds light on the often monotonous news stories of what’s happening in Ireland today.

Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson