With the emphasis on the South, this book looks at the island since partition and examines the performances of the two entities created by the collapse of the old Union. The author traces the establishment and development of the independent Irish state in detail, drawing on his knowledge of Irish government sources. The book looks at the development of Irish states of mind and follows the great change from the dominant farmer-shopkeeper rural culture of the 1930s and 1940s to the more urban, cosmopolitan attitudes of recent decades. Overshadowing all the achievements and failures of independent Ireland has been the spectre of Northern Ireland. The author sees Northern Ireland as a self-contained problem and refuses to blame the Troubles for the shortcomings of the Republic in the 1990s.