Synopses & Reviews
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, Luck and 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.
"Foster tells this great story with style, objectivity, and expertise."--Foreign Affairs
"Luck and the Irish is an occasionally angry, sometimes whimsical, and frequently hilarious account of the Republic of Ireland's ascent from gombeen-land to the happiest place on earth. It is exactly the kind of sharp, affectionate smack across its purring head that the Celtic tiger needed form its premier historian. In five substantive and elegantly written chapters, which appeal both to those who know nothing and to those who think they know everything, Foster weaves all the various threads into a tapestry of great beauty before ending on the celebratory note that his remarkable take demands."--Financial Times
"A country that long prided itself on being uniquely oppressed is rich. For 15 years Ireland's economy grew by 7% or more a year and the results show everywhere: as ugly bungalows, seedy politics, polluted rivers, Polish plumbers, and a huge increase in welfare for rich and poor alike. Roy Foster, grandmaster of Irish history has the courage, and the historian's skill, to tackle all this stuff, make sense of most of it, and entertain his readers too."--The Economist
"This deceptively brief volume is an encyclopedic survey of change throughout the national fabric of Ireland -- religious, political and cultural -- over the past three decades."--William Birdthistle, Wall Street Journal
"Here, Foster sketches the roots of our economic miracle and he charts the collapse of the old sectarian attitudes which had people meekly deferring to the elderly virgins out in Maynooth on the major issues in their lives."--The Irish Independent
"The book originated in a series of lectures and is less a history than an incisive, often witty, report on the development of a poor, hidebound country into a razzle-dazzle consumer society...."--The Boston Globe
"Readers will find "Luck and the Irish" presents an enlightening insight into the new Ireland ("Eire Nua"), a bit apart from the "Bord Failte" old Ireland approach."--atholic News Service
About the Author
is Professor of History and a Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford. In addition to his renowned biography of Yeats and his acclaimed history of modern Ireland, he is the editor of The Oxford History of Ireland
. His most recent book is The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland