Crossfire: The Battle of the Four Courts, 1916
Star Rating: 3/5
Crossfire: The Battle of the Four Courts, 1916: Paul O'Brien
Review by: Deirdre O'Brien
With only four years to go to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the shelves of bookshops will no doubt become filled with a wide selection of titles about that momentous week in Ireland's history.
Having already written two books on 1916 - and with more in the pipeline - Paul O'Brien's expertise on the period and fascination with it shines through in Crossfire: The Battle of the Four Courts, 1916. The first in a series of books about the rebellion called 1916 In Focus, Crossfire is an on-the-ground, nerve-wracking, detailed account of the rising in the Four Courts and its environs day by day from Easter Monday 1916, the day the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was read by Pádraig Pearse, to five days later when the order was given to cease fire. O'Brien also accounts the horrific underbelly of the rising and the findings after. It also demonstrates how brutal the rising was on either side, with ordinary men desperately fighting for their cause with a shocking violence that has
sometimes been glossed over in the poetry of the act of uprising for a free state.
The book is written as if in the midst of the rebellion. O'Brien uses as many first hand accounts as possible, and illustrates the book with letters and statements from those who witnessed the week unfold. He puts faces to names and writes as many obituaries as possible from whatever facts emerged about the fallen soldiers.
In some respects, Crossfire could be seen more as an academic text than bedside reading; you need to have at least a basic understanding of the Rising to really visualise the specifics of the battle of the Four Courts. But with this, the mapping of events in Dublin's capital by O'Brien is as fascinating as it is shocking. Crossfire - and the rest of the 1916 in Focus series - are important books to read to fully grasp the birth of our still infant state.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Tuesday 15th May 2012 | Other
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