Four Killings

Four Killings Land, Exile and War 1915-1922 Myles Dungan

A meticulously researched history of the fate of a single family in the period of the Irish Revolution, Four Killings is a remarkable book written by a very well-known broadcaster with a national (Irish) following. Dungan's family was involved in four violent deaths between 1915 and 1922, one in the remote and lawless Arizona territory and three in Ireland, and each of them is compellingly reconstructed in this extraordinary book. What unites them is of course the political violence that engulfed Ireland during the war against the British, but also the theme of land hunger, an often brutal class struggle between landless labourers and settled farmers that is a forgotten aspect of the war of independence. One of Dungan's ancestors was murdered by a group of such agrarian 'bandits'; his killer was tried and executed by the dead man's relatives and comrades in the IRA. The deeply conservative Irish state that emerged from the conflict would have no place for such peasant rebellions.

Dungan's book, focused on one family, offers an original take on this still-controversial period: a prism through which the moral and personal costs of violence and the elemental conflict over land come alive in surprising ways. It's a highly readable piece of narrative history, combining original scholarship and a strong grasp of the larger issues at stake.

Verwacht 13-5-2021
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