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Big Fellow, Long Fellow
A Joint Biography of Irish politicians Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera
Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera were the two most charismatic leaders of the Irish revolution. This joint biography looks first at their very different upbringings and early careers.
Both fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, although it is almost certain they did not meet during that tumultuous week. Their first encounter came when Collins had been released from jail after the rising but de Valera was still inside. Collins was one of those who wanted to run a Sinn Fein candidate in the Longford by-election of 1917. De Valera and other leaders opposed this initiative but the Collins group went ahead anyway and the candidate won narrowly. The incident typified the relationship between the two men: they were vastly different in temperament and style. But it was precisely in their differences and contradictions that their fascination lay. De Valera, the political pragmatist, hoped to secure independence through political agitation, whereas the ambitious Collins, with his restless temperament and boundless energy, was an impassioned patriot who believed in terror and assassination.
T. Ryle Dwyer examines the years, 1917-22 through the twists and turns of their careers. In an epilogue, he considers the legacy of Collins on de Valera's political life.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"This is the only comparative biography of Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins, and as such has established itself as a standard work. It is now re-issued in pocket paperback format for the first time. As fairly and as dispassionately as possible, Dwyer explores the stark differences in the background and personalities of his two subjects; the abandoned, probably illegitimate and essentially loveless childhood of de Valera sharply counterpoints the warm close environment into which Collins was born ...Dwyer's assessment of the two
characters is fair." -- Diarmaid Ferriter * Evening Herald * "This is an excellent book and goes far to giving a rounder picture of the relationship between the two men than some earlier works. In particular, Collins emerges as a pretty good schemer himself, being a brilliant networker through his control of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, his contacts in the police and civil bureaucracies in both Britain and Ireland and through his connections in the world of shipping and communications ...one thing that comes out of Dwyer's
analysis very starkly is de Valera's fantastic self-confidence or self-righteousness, depending on one's point of view ...a well-written, competent and fair-minded book. -- Tom Garvin * Irish University Review *