Brian Girvin has written a fresh and original history of Ireland between 1939 and 1945. Drawing on new sources and recent scholarship, he tells the story of what is known as ‘The Emergency’ in Ireland, but elsewhere as the Second World War.
Despite Ireland still being a member of the Commonwealth, Eamon de Valera refused to join the war against Nazi Germany and declared his country neutral. To the endless frustration and anger of Churchill – and later Roosevelt – de Valera pursued an isolationist policy that changed the course of Irish domestic and foreign politics. In this brilliantly argued history, Girvin shows how this policy went against the national interest, and far from being the only option for the Government, was simply the only one they would consider. This decision, Girvin concludes, cost de Valera his ultimate prize: a united Ireland.
Woven into this political maelstrom are the stories of the people who lived through those years, those that went against the Government and fought for the allies and those who even if they disagreed were not easily allowed to express that opinion. Using personal testimonies of these people brings the feel and shape of those times readily to life.
Bold, fearless and compelling The Emergency is a unique and important addition to any understanding of Ireland and the Second World War.