By Neil Hegarty
Thomas Dunne Books, $27.99, 380 pages
The Story of Ireland by author and historian Neil Hegarty is an excellent example “history lite”— a very general yet palatable overview of a person, place, or event. Hegarty begins the Irish narrative ca. 433, with Irish mythology and the story of St. Patrick, the man credited, incorrectly as Hegarty points out, with bringing Christianity to the Emerald Isle. The book quickly moves through Ireland’s history, touching on events such as the Viking raids, invasions, famines and political upheavals. Interestingly, over half of the book’s 380 pages focus on the years 1800-2011, and provides the reader with a background of the political dynamics and religious turmoil that would eventually lead to the Irish Civil War and the subsequent division of Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland.
The Story of Ireland is not a comprehensive history of the country; it does, however, serve as a thought-provoking catalyst for further reading if more information is desired. The book also contains a 16-page color insert that complements the Irish history Hegarty discusses.
Reviewed by Cheri Woods-Edwin