Roy Foster is one of Ireland's leading historians, the author of the much acclaimed two-volume biography of Yeats as well as the definitive history Modern Ireland, which has been hailed as "dazzling" (New York Times Book Review) and "elegant, erudite, wise, witty" (Irish Times). Now, this brilliant writer offers a "short and combative" account of Ireland's astonishing transformation over the last three decades.
Has there really been an "economic miracle"? Where does the explosion of cultural energy in music, literature, and theater come from? Has the power of the Catholic Church really crumbled? Focusing largely on contemporary events, living people, current controversies, and popular culture, Luckand the Irish explores these questions and raises other provocative questions of its own. Foster looks at the astonishing volte-face undertaken by Sinn Fein, eventually taking office in a state they had once fought to destroy. He describes how Catholicism, once the bedrock of Irish identity, has been decisively compromised, as evidenced by the exploitation and abuse scandals and the drastic decline in devotions. At the same time, the position of women in Irish society has been transformed, with the growth of feminism, a revolution in sexual attitudes, far more women in the work force, the ascendancy of President Mary Robinson, and the movement of women to front-rank Cabinet posts—all of which have put the position of Irish women ahead of that in many European nations.
Many old molds have been broken in Irish society over the last 30 years, and the immediate results have been breath-taking. But are these developments really as permanent or even as beneficial as they appear? Everyone curious about the recent past, the burgeoning present, and the unclear future of Ireland will want to read this superbly written and deeply thoughtful book.
Roy Foster is Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Hertford College. His books include Charles Stewart Parnell: The Man and His Family, Lord Randolph Churchill: a Political Life (OUP, 1981), Modern Ireland 1600-1972, Paddy and Mr Punch, and The Irish Story:
Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland. The prize-winning first volume of this biography, W.B. Yeats, A Life. I: The Apprentice Mage 1865-1914 was published by OUP in 1997.
LUCK & THE IRISH
Oxford University Press, USA
Oxford University Carroll Professor of Irish History, University of Ox