Eamon de Valera is the most remarkable man in the history of modern Ireland. Much as Churchill personified British resistance to Hitler and de Gaulle personified the freedom of France, de Valera personified Irish independence. From his emergence in the aftermath of the 1916 rebellion as the republican leader, he bestrode Irish politics like a colossus for more than fifty years. On the eve of the centenary of the Irish Revolution, one of Ireland's most eminent historians explains why Eamon de Valera was such a divisive figure that he has never - until now - received the recognition he deserves.
This biography reconciles an acknowledgement of de Valera's catastrophic failure in 1921-22, when his petulant rejection of the Anglo-Irish Treaty shaped the dimensions of a bloody civil war, with an appreciation of his subsequent greatness as the statesman who single-handedly severed the ties with Britain and defined nationalist Ireland's sense of itself.