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Hardcover The Black and Tans: The Special Police in Ireland 1919-1921 Book

ISBN: 1586636073

ISBN13: 9781586636074

The Black and Tans: The Special Police in Ireland 1919-1921

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Sent to Ireland in 1920 by Lloyd George's Coalition Cabinet, the Black and Tans acquired a fearsome reputation in their task of suppressing the IRA and united Irish and British public opinion against... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

The Black and Tans

I enjoyed this book. It debunked much of the mythology that people my age were exposed to. As a child, I knew some IRA men. They were formidable characters. My hero Michael Collins took a drubbing in this book. The use of condescending adjectives for bishops was a turn-off. Nevertheless, Bennett provides a very valuable service.

A Wee History With A Huge Subtext

I read this book a year ago after I bought it in a bookshop in Galway during my last visit to Ireland. After a year's reflection, there are three features of this work which deserve comment. Firstly, this is not a dispassionate view of history. Far from it, there are areas in which the spin made me uneasy to the point of skin crawl. Moreover this polemic, though filled with quotes, contains neither attribution nor footnotes. The illustrations are, in contrast, attributed in the acknowledgements. The bibliography is scant, less than one-tenth of the references contained in a work I am currently reading about the Irish War of Independence. That the author was a British Army officer with a discernable agenda is widely accepted. I heartily recommend this book to everyone interested in the period who is not from the British Isles as a must read if you are to ever understand Ireland's relationship with Britain. There is no contradiction here. Bennett could be a representative example of the British ruling class attitude toward the Irish. Although I was pained at some of his clumsier attempts at whitewashing the Black & Tan paramilitary police, I found Bennett's attitude vastly illuminating. If one grasps this attitude, should it prove widely applicable, it does wonders to explain the lack of communication that existed between the British and the Irish until relatively recent times. Think of it as a time capsule. Leading to the second point, Bennett could have summed up very briefly: The British used regular army troops brutalized by trench warfare in place of civilian police. These troops ran amok, the British newspapers picked it up, sensationalized it and these sensational reports weakened a crucial portion of public opinion in Britain towards retaining Ireland in the Union. The second point is not that Bennett was less than succinct but that the scenario outlined above was exploited by insurgents for the remainder the century. Arguably, it may have got it's birth in the Boer War but the IRA and the IRB honed it to the point where it was a marketable franchise picked up in total by everyone from the Irgun and Lehi to FARC. Switching to the other side of the conflict, one needs only look to recent events to see governments employing military units in place of civilian police with exactly the same consequences. First as tragedy, thereafter as farce, anyone? The last point worthy of making is to ask why did not an author with the stature of Foster or Lee write this book? I find it difficult to believe that Irish scholarship would stand idly by and let an apologist write the definitive work on the Black and Tans.

Excellent Profile of the Black-and-Tan Terror

Richard Bennett describes the work of the Black and Tan soldiers in Ireland near the turn of the last century. He labels them as "the toughest, the wildest, and the most feared" of all British soldiers. The Black and Tans were sent to Ireland in 1920 by Prime Minister David Lloyd George to suppress the growing republican movement. As history shows, their violence did not squelch the drive for independence. The Black and Tans were essentially given carte blanche and they used it. They tortured and murdered Irish citizens at will. The soldiers received their name because of their uniforms-- it so happened that a pack of wild dogs that once tormented County Limerick had similar colorings as the soldiers' uniforms and thus the nickname stuck. By the next year, the Black and Tans had been so successful in their mission that even the British tide of opinion shifted against them. Bennett, who was a military man himself, articulately recounts the havoc wreaked on Ireland by the Black and Tans and does an excellent job of placing the reader right in the environment. It is also worth noting that the book comes with many wonderful b/w photos of the time.

A must buy if you are interested in this period.

I purchased this book in a university shop more or less because I was interested in the photographs of the last days of British rule in the South of Ireland. I was particularly taken by the devastation of the City of Cork and also the striking photo of three Black and Tans guarding a sports day at a hospital. The latter prompted me to recall the beach scene in "Apocalypse Now" when the American soldiers are recreating a beach leisure activity and the more they tried the more perverse it seemed. No doubt it was also a scene replicated in Kenya and Malaya and in a hundred other places prior to the British leaving.The actual account while obviously partisan to the British is I think a very honest attempt at covering this period and the author is honest enough to admit that the British police carried out activities that were in effect not much different to those carried out by the Germans in occupied territories. He doesn't mention the effects the large scale reprisals had on the merchant class but does mention that a plethora of pro-unionist bodies such as chambers of commerce were induced by the havoc to change sides in favour of the IRA.He mentions at least two IRA atrocities of note which are often glossed over in pro-republican accounts and the least convincing of his accounts is probably the massacre of civilians in Dublin by the British at Croke Park an event covered in the "Michael Collins" motion picture by Neil Jordan.As objective an account as one might hope for from a former British Officer, it is a pity the modern war in the North did not have similar accounts by later variants of the same.
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