British Empire Books

The Anglo-Irish War: 1916 - 1921

Contributed by Prof. Richard Norton

AuthorWilliam Kautt

Kautt teaches history at the U.S. Air Force Academy. One day, as he describes it, he had a burst of enlightenment. It occurred to Kautt that despite being a world away in distance, years away in time and completely different in culture. the Irish rebellion was actually a "peoples' war, such as was waged by the Chinese, Vietnamese and Algerians. He spends the rest of the book trying to prove this hypothesis.

Whether he does or not will be up to the individual reader, but even if you don't buy the argument in the end, it is difficult to deny that Kautt gave it one heck of a try. His examination of the impact of the British reaction to the Easter rising of 1916, especially in the question of Courts-martial and firing squads, provided the first real impetus to a national sense of resistance that is so essential in a peoples' war. This also raises the interesting question "Is government response (or over response) a required ingredient in creating a peoples' war? Kautt does not provide an answer. Nor does he really address potential opposing points of view to his own. But to his credit, Kautt does not claim that Mao and other future practitioners of peoples' war got their ideas from the Irish.

Narrowly focused on his task, Kautt glosses over personalities, strategy and tactics. He writes well and the book in interesting, but the cost may be more than the average reader wants to invest. For those with a particular interest in the rebellion, or in revolutionary theory, the book would make an interesting addition.

Buy this book at: Amazon

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by Stephen Luscombe