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Book reviews archive

 

Fear not by Anne Holt

Dublin Dead by Gerard O’Donovan

The Fort by Bernard Cornwell

The marriage plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Saints and Sinners by Edna O'Brien

The Matchmaker of Kenmareby Frank Delaney

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

All the bishops' men by Tom Mooney

Master of Rome by John Stack

Room by Emma Donoghue

The Story of Spain by Mark Williams

Time on the Ocean by Theo Dorgan

The Twelve by Stuart Neville

 

Patrick Kavanagh & the Leader by Pat Walsh

A Great Sacrifice by Gerry White and Brendan O'Shea

Burn Books Badly by Manuel Rivas

Captain of Rome by John Stack

Lovely flows the Lee by Francis Twomey & Tony McGettigan

The Intrigue at Highbury by Carrie Bebris

Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul by Michael Reid

The Vatican Pimpernel: The Wartime Exploits of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty by Brian Fleming

Dorothy Macardle: A Life by Nadia Clare Smith

The Fifty Minute Mermaid: Poems in Irish by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

Beara the Unexplored Peninsula by Francis Twomey & Tony McGettigan

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith


 

Are You Still Below? The Ford Marina Plant 1917-1984 by Miriam Nyhan

God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens

The Accidental Mind by David Linden

Jigs and Reels by Joanne Harris

Emerging Cork by John X. Miller

Engleby by Sebastian Faulks

Every Single Ball: The Brian Corcoran Story

Father Prout of Watergrasshill 1757-1830

Say What by Keith Barker-Main

The Revenge of Gaia by J.E. Lovelock

Water Like A Stone

A New View of the Irish Language

In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century by Geert Mak

 The Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society: 2008. Vol. 113

Books on Fire: The tumultuous story of the world’s great libraries by Lucien X. Polastron 
An A-Z of Youghal by Tim FitzGerald 

Foul Play by Joe Humphreys 

The Pacific War by William B. Hopkins 

The Vikings in Ireland by Mary Valente

Fear not‌
by Anne HoltFear Not

Christmas time in Oslo, with snowflakes in the air… an idyllic scene, but when police crime profiler Johanne Vik’s autistic teenage daughter Kristiane is almost run ov‌er by a tram, the dark underside of Norwegian society touches her and her policeman husband Ingvar Stubo. This is the fourth book in a series featuring Vik and Stubo, and its theme, hate crime, has been thrown into sharp relief by the case of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right murderer of scores of young Nowegians at Utoya Island last summer.
Holt, one-time Minister for Justice in Norway, has written perceptively on Breivik, but is first and foremost a detective story, and soon dead bodies begin to surface ... a female bishop, a famous artist, a television personality’s lesbian partner, a non-national youth whose body is found floating in Oslo Bay. Meanwhile Johanne suspects that Kristiane is being stalked. Has the teenager been a witness to one of these murders? She and her parents had been guests in an Oslo hotel on the night when lesbian Marianne’s body was dumped in the basement. It is only with the help of her friend, an American human rights lawyer, that Johanne finds a link between these disparate murders and frees her family from an increasingly frightening campaign of intimidation.
Fear not is a slow but satisfying read, with engaging characters, fresh new backgrounds and scary insights on hate crime and intolerance, which are as dangerous here in Ireland as in Scandinavia or anywhere else. The book is superbly translated from the Norwegian, and is certainly full of tension and griping fear! ‘Fear Not’ is available to members now at Cork City Libraries!

Review by Tim O’Mahony

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Dublin DeadDublin dead / Gerard O'Donovan
by Gerard O’Donovan ‌

A drug deal gone bad. A daughter gone missing. A hit man on the loose.And five days to find the answers. Gerard O'Donovan's‌ first novel The Priest featured reporter Si‌obhan Fallon and the crazed actions of a serial killer in Dublin. Siobhan returns in Dublin Dead’, O’Donovan’s second book, to help solve a missing person case. A young woman has disappeared seemingly without a trace. Siobhan begins the search, and it is not long before DI Mike Mulcahy uncovers a link between Ireland's largest-ever drugs haul and the murder of a Dublin gangster in Spain. Fallon and Mulcahy, the most unlikely of allies, are working together again and O’Donovan’s second novel takes off at a traffic pace! And this may well be O’Donovan’s true skill - to keep the hunt for the missing woman, the drugs gang, and the mounting and apparently connected murders all moving along at a great pace which holds the reader gripped in the twists and turns of each story line. Definitely a pulse quickening read, and available now at Cork City Libraries.
Review by Matthew Farrell

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The FortThe fort / Bernard Cornwell
by Bernard Cornwell

It’s hard to believe that Bernard Cornwell has over 50 books to his name, >‌ but this must be proof that he is doing something right! Indeed the ‘military historical ‌fiction’ novel in which has specialised been in many ways defined by his character Richard Sharpe and also the ‘Starbuck’ books. Reception of his more recent books, particularly the 'Azincourt' series, has been lukewarm, as he has moved away from the established Sharpe and Starbuck Chronicles. So how does the most recent book ‘The Fort’ fare?

This book centers around a fairly obscure episode during the American War of independence, well it was news to me at any rate. The Penobscot Expedition of 1779 saw the establishment of a small British garrison in what is now Maine. Some 700 Scots Guards and 3 small war ships in total sre sent to build a fort and protect a harbour. The rebel government in Boston moves to destroy the fort and push the redcoats out. Against the British force an army of around 900 men and a fleet of 42 ships are. Brilliant stuff!

As always Cornwell has researched the period and the events in great detail, it flows from every page. The east coast of America is painted expertly, and makes for a great stage for the action to come. However it is the range of characters which make this a notch above some of Cornwell’s more recent books. The portrayal of the `rebels' I thought particularly interesting as the emergence of an ‘American’ national identity had only just begun. The British are not all bad guys either - Cornwell creates a lot more balance that that. Even if you not familiar with Cornwell previously, you'll not be disappointed with this book. Well worth a read, and it is available now at Cork City Libraries.

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The marriage plot by Jeffrey EugenidesThe marriage plot / Jeffrey Eugenides

Madeleine Hanna, the heroine of the new novel by jeffrey Eugenides, The marriage plot, ‌ is a graduate in English from Brown University, Rhode Island, in the early 1980‌s. The book traces the intertwined lives of Madeleine and two men who are in love with her; Leonard Bankhead, a brilliant polymath suffering from manic depression, and Mitchell Grammaticus, a student of world religions and an aspiring mystic. The novel is both a satire, frequently hilarious, on the fads and foibles of the world of academia and an engrossing love story. Eugenides has a brilliant prose style with a marvellous gift for telling metaphors. The marriage plot, its title derived from one of the major themes of the Victorian novels beloved of Madeleine, is a compelling read that confirms the place of Eugenides in the front rank of contemporary novelists. The description of Leonard’s descent into mania is quite exceptional, displaying great insight and compassion. Mitchell’s travels in Europe and Asia and his meetings with an assortment of characters allow great scope for the humorous and satirical talents of Eugenides.
So, who wins Madeleine in the end? You’ll have to read the novel to find out. You won’t be disappointed.
The marriage plot is in stock in Cork City Libraries.
Review by Kieran Burke

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Saint and SinnersSaints and Sinners
by Edna O'Brien

This year Edna O’Brien became the first Irish author to win the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award! One of the judges, the poet Thomas McCarthy, said that the book is "a most faithful representation of the Irish condition”. O’Brien is sharp and incisive as well as being gifted with lyrical genius.‌
O’Brien must be tired of being reminded that she is in her ninth decade but she wears it well, using experience and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to evoke heartbreak‌. In Manhattan Medley she writes “Not to go to you is to precipitate the dark, and yet I hesitate. It is not that I do not crave the light — rather it is the certainty of the eventual dark.” Her characters express their human frailty beautifully and utterly believably. Rafferty in Shovel Kings went to dig the blue soil of London around 1960 and now the barman says, “ ‘He doesn't belong in England and ditto Ireland’ . . . adding that exile is in the mind and there's no cure for that”. O’Brien communicates his loneliness by telling us that he cuts people out of his life “not from a hardness of heart, but from a heart that was immeasurably broken.”
Of course there’s sex, from Delia listening to other people in Sinners to Millie’s wondering about her husband’s affair in Madame Cassandra. There’s more; so rich a tapestry that this reviewer cannot hope to do justice to the book but I can, with all my heart, urge you to read it.
In her acceptance speech she said, “I’d like to thank this wonderful festival for doing so much to stimulate the dying flower called literature.” She is a brilliantly gifted and accomplished writer and I, for one, was delighted that she won the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award.
Review by Paul Cussen

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The Matchmaker of Kenmare‌
by Frank DelaneyThe Matchmaker of Kenmare

This is the latest work of fiction by Tipperary man Frank Delaney. While he has now lived in the US for many years, Delaney is still quite focused on the land of his bir‌th as all of his fiction publications since he moved there are based in Ireland. His first book from America was titled Ireland, and it became a New York Times bestseller.
His most recent novel, The Matchmaker of Kenmare, is a sequel to his Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show. If you haven’t read this one yet, The Matchmaker of Kenmare can still be read on its own. Though, by the end of The Matchmaker you will likely want to read its precursor.
The story begins with Ben McCarthy, an Irish folklore collector, reminiscing about events long past, decades ago when he was in his 20s and 30s. We are brought back to an Ireland that existed in a bubble: Ireland during World War II, when Ireland was trying to stay out of the war by declaring itself neutral. It was 1943 when Ben first meets Kate Begley, the Matchmaker of Kenmare.Ben works with the Irish Folklore Commission, and it is through this work that he met Kate. The story seems to be settling in for a period romance until an American Intelligence Officer, Charles Miller, steals Kate’s heart. It is through this character that Delaney introduces the war to the romantic Irish storyline . Charles proves to be dangerous and unpredictable, and his duties bring tragic changes to his, Kate's, and Ben's lives. The Matchmaker of Kenmare is well drawn and comfortable, all in all not a bad winter warmer. Available now at Cork City Libraries.
Review by Matthew Farrell

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 A Game of Thrones
by George RR Martin.‌ Game of thrones / George R.R. Martin

Though Martin's novel was published in 1996, the fact that HBO have chosen it for a TV dramatisation of the same name has refocused attention on it. Interestingly‌, most of the screen shots for the TV series were taken in Ireland, specifically in the Mourne Mountains and other parts of Northern Ireland. The book reads like a fantasy-world dramatisation of English history during the Wars of the Roses, with the Stark and Lannister families standing in for the Yorks and Lancasters. The story of these two families dominates the foreground of the work, but in the background lurks the more serious threat, the peril of the frozen North.

As fantasy goes, there is a reason why this book, among the thousands of other titles published, was chosen to be made into a television series. There is a richness in Martin's work which is rare in fantasy literature. The various factions have a strong and powerful history which is apparent in their songs and stories, clothing and weapons. Their struggles for power are so well constructed that the reader is pulled from one dastardly plot to another without ever losing his way. In essence Martin has created a believable world of richly drawn cultures. Creating credible fantasy worlds is not easy, as so many writers have tried and failed to do so. A game of thrones is one of those rare books that defines a genre and sets the bar. A word of warning: this book, though fantasy, features all the violence and brutality of real-world medieval European history...life is often short and bloody, and the book is not for children or the fainthearted. But read it now if you will at Cork City Libraries. You may, in fact, read the whole series, the latest instalment of which, A dance with dragons, was published in 2008.
Review by Matthew Farrell.

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 All the bishops' menAll the bishop's men / Tom Mooney
by Tom Mooney ‌

This week saw the publication of the long-awaited report into the handling of clerical abuse allegations in the diocese of Cloyne. At a time when the issue of cle‌rical abuse seems to have entered the media spotlight again, let us look at a book on the subject published earlier this year. ‘All The Bishops’ Men’, by Tom Mooney, looks at the Ferns Dioceses, and the incidents which took place there over a 30 year period. Mooney covers the infamous Fr. Sean Fortune, and how his suicide over ten years ago was the catalyst for the first voluntary resignation by a bishop in the Catholic Church in Western Europe. He details how a combination of lack of supervision by Bishops, failed police investigations , and a culture of turning results for the victims of clerical abuse. The book also looks at the wholly inadequate response by the state, whether by politicians or the public service during this period. And finally we see how ‘a few good men’ said enough is enough.
This is an excellently written and researched book, which cuts straight to the facts and shows the reader exactly the when, the what, and the how of these terrible events. And more importantly why they continued to happen for so long. From the role of Canon Law to that of the media this book leaves no stone unturned. There is even a lengthy appendix detailing interviews with Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray & Colm O’Gorman, now director of Amnesty International in Ireland, and former head of the abuse survivors' group One in Four. The Ferns Dioceses revelations caused one of the most painful episodes in recent Irish history, and it is only through a thorough understanding of the failings which brought it about that can we prevent something like this happening again. This book, available now in Cork City Libraries, is an important part of that understanding, even more so now in the light of more recent revelations from Cloyne diocese.
Review by Matthew Farrell

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 Master of Rome
By John Stack ‌Masters of Rome / John Stack

This is the last book of Cork author John Stack’s Roman trilogy in which the Greek captain Atticus Perennis still strives against prejudice to overcome the Carthagi‌nian navy. Stack hails from Carrigaline, and has proven himself to be quite the writer! This book opens with a scene from the battle of Tunis and sets forth at a great pace right to the end of the First Punic War. Atticus visits Rome a few times, giving the reader a flavour of the wider society outside of the action of the narrative. It also shows how a Greek, however talented and whatever his previous actions in the service of Rome, is not to be seen as an equal to a Roman citizen.
Septimus who stood with Atticus is no longer a marine and is back in the Ninth Legion. Septimus takes part in the siege of Panormus, protecting the siege engines and storming the walls. The affair between Hadria, his sister, and Atticus continues, developing the characters but not interfering with the action. And this book is action packed.
Hamilcar Barca, the leader of the Carthaginian forces, has a personal score to settle with Atticus, Septimus doesn’t think it right that his sister might marry Atticus (however good a man he is, he’s not a Roman) and consul Scipio Asina seems to have a personal grudge against him. All of that and there’s a traitor on his ship.
I enjoyed the three books in the series and I look forward to more from this most entertaining Corkauthor. Sea battles, sieges, chasing blockade runners, torture and execution are all included as well as political scheming, sea storms and revenge making this a fast and very enjoyable read.

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Room
by Emma Donoghue Room / Emma Donoghue

“Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra.” ‌
Room opens gently and at the same time there’s an edge to it. The novel is told by the five year old narrator and tells the tale of young Jack and his mum who live in Room. Jack has never experienced Outside. He has always been in Room. The only other person he has encountered is “Old Nick” who brings their food and controls their electricity but he mostly comes at night when Jack is asleep.
I liked this book. It reminded me of John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas because it deals with a very sensitive topic but it is not gratuitous. There are no explicit scenes yet the subject matter is very dark. The book is divided into different sections, the first of which has been compared to Beckett for Beginners. Fear not, just when you think that you’ve had enough of the misery of their imprisonment (despite Ma’s clever, inventive and inspired games) something happens.
The second part of the book is very interesting. How does Jack deal with Outside? What is it like for someone who has spent their entire life in one room to enter the outside world, especially if they are at the centre of a media frenzy? What is it like for a family to reacquaint themselves with a daughter they haven’t seen in seven years? And how do they welcome her son, the son of her kidnapper? Not gory but dark, this is a fast and despite its theme an enjoyable read. ‘Room’ is availabe now at Cork City Libraries.

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Time on the Ocean
by Theo Dorgan Time on the ocean / Theo Dorgan

This is Corkman Theo’s second book based around a sea adventure, Sailing for Home published in 2004 being his first. Theo might be better known for his poetry, but he has many other strings to his bow. Editor, script writer, radio and television presenter, Theo has the kind of broad life experience usually found in a good travel/adventure writer. In Time on the Ocean, unlike his previous book mentioned above, Theo is this time looking for adventure and a connection to his past. Just inside the front cover we are presented with a map, detailing his voyage. Depart Cape Horn, skirt the Falkland Islands, strike out across the South Pacific, and drop anchor in Cape Town! Easy peasy! The journey of a life time! Nothing worth doing is ever that easy, as we learn from this book. From the growing attention to the weather, the repetitive routine of sailing life, overheating engines and the variety of wildlife there is never a dull moment. But nothing too life threatening either. Theo also is personally concerned with the history of his great-grandmother, who died off Cape Horn. The pace and tone is as you might expect from a poet, even and thoughtful. There is a gentle grace about this book, you will keep coming back to it and want to finish it in one read. Laid out as a diary, each chapter covers a day in the journey – so we get quite a detailed account of the journey. In total there are 35 chapters, what a wonderful way to spend a month! Time on the Ocean is available now at Cork City Libraries.

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The Story of Spain‌ Story of Spain
by Mark Williams

Much of Spanish history is familiar, but Williams’ sympathetic study helps us understand how Spain once dominated Europe and still enjoys an enormous worldwide cultural and linguistic legacy. He refutes the negative image of the country in the infamous ‘Black Legend’ of cruel and duplicitous Catholic power politics, and points out the greater visibility and political clout of native Americans in the former Spanish colonies compared to the misery and despair of the Indian reservations in British North America. He asserts too that there were fewer executed for religious reasons in Spain than in England in spite of the notorious Inquisition.
Williams sketches in the lives of the great Spanish artists and writers, and characterizes Spain’s rulers in telling vignettes, most memorably the nineteenth-century queen, Isabel, who said of her honeymoon “What can I say of a man who on his wedding night wore more lace than I?” After the horrors of the Peninsular War, poignantly depicted in Goya’s etchings, Spain was bedeviled by weak rulers and intermittent civil wars in the nineteenth century, and Williams contends that the Civil War of the 30s fits perfectly into that pattern. He is even-handed on the atrocities committed by both sides in that conflict, but rightly abhors the utter lack of mercy shown by Franco to his defeated fellow-citizens, which has left an enduring bitterness in communities throughout Spain.

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The Twelve
by Stuart NevilleThe Twelve

Gerry Fegan hit the drink when he got out of the Maze. He was a hit man for the IRA but since the Good Friday Agreement things are different. This thriller is set in‌ the North after the Troubles. Gerry Fegan may handcraft guitars but his is not a peaceful existence. He can’t sleep. He is haunted not just by bad memories but by the shadows of the ghosts of the twelve people he has killed, ghosts that are demanding that he kill again. Gerry’s only hope is to avenge their deaths by killing those responsible for them, his former paymasters.‌
Neville is an excellent writer and this is a very impressive debut. Fegan is not content with a paid salary for a nonexistent community job. He has his ghosts and he must atone for his wrongdoings by killing. This book is not for the faint hearted or those of a weak disposition. Neville’s hard boiled prose excels when he describes acts of violence and brutality.
The reader can see Fegan’s remorse for his actions and that helps to make him a sympathetic character. He is a man on the edge but the more he kills the less troubled he is. Unfortunately, the deaths of so many prominent individuals threatens the peace process so old comrades as well as enemies want him gone.
This is a rollercoaster read with riots, bombs, sectarian murders, illegal dog fights, The Maze, diesel "laundering" plants, cemetery speeches, racketeering and Ulster politics. This is a fabulous debut from an author we hope to hear lots from in the future. Stuart Neville has been shortlisted in the Irish Book Awards for an Ireland AM Crime Fiction of the Year and as Best Newcomer of the Year.

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Patrick Kavanagh & the Leader
by Pat Walsh.Patrick Kavanagh and the Leader

In 1952 the Leader published an infamous profile of the poet Patrick Kavanagh, who was so incensed that he went to law with the newspaper a few years later. ‌The Leader hired John A. Costello as their defence council in the ensuing slander case.‌
As with Pat Walsh’s first book The Curious Case of the Mayo Librarian which was very interesting, this book is fabulous. It provides a look at the case and its effects on the key players. Essentially it is a transcript of Kavanagh’s impetuous action, with an often sympathetic and helpful commentary by Pat Walsh.
The libel case became a public sensation, receiving extensive newspaper coverage at the time, with lengthy queues of spectators outside the court each day. Costello’s detailed and masterful cross examination of Kavanagh which went on over a number of days, fatally undermined Kavanagh’s case. The jury found that Kavanagh had not been libelled. Kavanagh was both personally humiliated and financially devastated. The court case dragged on for over a year and Kavanagh's health began to fail. On appeal the decision was later overturned but the damage to Kavanagh had been done...
Pat Walsh offers a brief summary of Kavanagh’s career (his early autobiography The Green Fool was withdrawn by the publisher because of a successful libel action against him by Gogarty) and puts meat on the bones of this chunk of history. Patrick Kavanagh & the Leader is available now at a number of Cork City Library branches.

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 A Great SacrificeGreat sacrifice
by Gerry White and Brendan O'Shea

The Great War was an event in Irish history which permeated to every community and to every level of society in Ireland. For this alone it equals any of the other great events which occurred in Irish history before, during and after. Understandably The Great War in Irish society and history has previously been overshadowed to a l‌arge extent, but in the passage of time this has been changing, slowly but surely. The publication of books such as ‘A Great Sacrifice’ ensure our understanding of events is enhanced, and in that way the process can only be accelerated.
The Irish National War Memorial Committee records the names of more than 49,000 Irishmen who died while fighting with the British and Imperial forces. Yet this number did not include those who had enlisted in the US army, at the time quite an attractive option for those who could not find steady work or those looking for citizenship. Neither does it tell us of the Irish women who served alongside those Irish men. This book does and in so doing is another vital step in addressing the facts of their sacrifice.
For lovers of books ‘A Great Sacrifice’ is a thing of beauty. In over 630 pages of photos, reprints of posters of the time and well written text White, O’Shea and their research team touch on almost every town and parish in Cork City and County. The work covers those who were resident in Cork prior to enlistment and those who had married into Cork families, so its interest is beyond that of the ‘county bounds’ and is really a work of national significance. Through it we see these people, our fellow country men and women, as just that: ordinary Irish people who found themselves caught up in a terrible war.
‘Today they lie in foreign lands beneath regulation white headstones…’ It’s time we brought their memory home.

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 Burn Books Badly
by Manuel Rivas. ‌Books Burning Badly

This book by Spanish author Manuel Rivas is simply a joy to read. Funny considering the dark subject which it covers. Burn Books Badly is a fictional book set arou‌nd an actual historical event. We are all familiar with the images of mass book burnings in Germany during Hitler’s reign, but I had never heard of book burnings in Spain. Rivas builds the book around one day, 19th August 1936, early in the Spanish Civil War, when books were destroyed in Galicia. The main characters, instead of being politically or militarily motivated, are instead a boxer, a washerwoman, match girls and fishermen, the ordinary yet colourful local people of La Coruna. The local boxer and strong man called Hercules - yes the mythical name has more significance than the obvious - saves a rare book from the fires. Hercules is also the name of the La Coruna lighthouse, the emblem of which is an open book with light beaming out. This is a perfect example of Rivas's ability to combine folklore, metaphor and imagery, which permeates every level of this book. The Spanish Civil War is a very popular choice of subject for authors currently, with a sizable quantity of fiction being published in that setting in recent years. Yet Manuel Rivas has produced something which truly transcends anything else I have read in some time. This is a fantastic book, one which I can’t recommend more highly. Burn Books Badly is available now at Cork City Libraries.

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 Captain of Rome
by John StackCaptain Of Rome

Atticus, and Youghal native John Stack, is back. And despite his developing friendship with Septimus he still finds himself with new and powerful enemies. That’s wha‌t happens when you disobey orders and as we’ve seen in the first book, Ship of Rome, Atticus thinks more of common sense than politics. But this is about action, set within an interesting historical period. The author blends both land and sea action so we readers get quite a wide perspective, from naval action to Legionaries mixing it on land. This is good stuff, well written and fast paced. There is an element of the expected, the traditional bad guy, the two friends, the love interest and the action, but it is well put together‌
The hero, Atticus, captain of the Aquila is well realised, as is his best friend Septimus. The tensions between them are well set up. Atticus is of Greek extraction and treated with suspicion by his Roman associates, and this makes for interesting conflict as he doesn't always receive the recognition he deserves. Septimus, from an older lineage, has issues with Atticus, even while they are friends and allies, and he is not best pleased when he suspects that Atticus is courting his widowed sister Hadria.
Even if there are obvious heroes, there are no absolute villains of the piece as such, just guys you'd rather not cheer for. Motivations are explained and this gives the characters depth and allows you to see their side of matters. Scipio and Dulius are two wily politicians, creeping behind each other's backs to secure power in the senate, and their attitudes and ambitions impinge directly on Atticus and Septimus.
The setting of the Romans at sea is a different one and refreshing.
Well worth the read if you like action and adventure in the Roman period.
John Stack is a powerful storyteller. His stirring, epic adventure throws new light on the story of Rome and the sea battles are magnificent.

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 Lovely flows the LeeLovely flows the Lee
by Francis Twomey & Tony McGettigan

‌Lovely flows the Lee by Francis Twomey & Tony McGettigan is a beautifully illustrated account of the Lee from its source to the harbour. The book is divided into fo‌ur sections. Section 1 deals with the upper reaches of the Lee, section 2 with the valley, section 3 with the city and section 4 with the harbour. While the book has the appearance of a coffee table book the text is very well written and genuinely informative. The Corkonian who would not learn something from it would be very learned indeed. The quality of the photographs throughout is superb. The photograph of the source of the Lee where it is but a tiny rivulet will amaze those who suffered during the dreadful flooding of November 2009. As the text states ‘ The river, that will later be harnessed to generate electricity and later still become the centre of a busy city and a mighty harbour, comes into being tentatively in the boggy saddle between Bealick and Coomroe in the Shehy Mountains.’ I would commend readers to join with the authors on the journey of the Lee from the source to the sea. Lovely flows the Lee is available for reference in the Local Studies Library of Cork City Libraries.

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 The Intrigue at HighburyThe intrigue at Highbury
by Carrie Bebris

‌ This fifth novel in a series featuring Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett as amateur detectives is both a stylish Jane Austen pastiche, and an accomplished murder my‌stery. The Darcys arrive in Highbury, and meet Emma and her new husband Mr. Knightley. A guest at Donwell Abbey has died in suspicious circumstances, the two couples involve themselves in the intrigue, and become firm friends.
True to form, the ladies use their feminine instincts in the detection process, while their husbands maintain a cool detachment. Many of the characters of Emma make an appearance, including kind Miss Bates, and the interfering Eltons. But is the appearance in the village of handsome peddler Hiram Deal really a coincidence?
Though deliciously entertaining for Austen fans, you don't have to have read the novels to enjoy this or the other titles in the series. However I'm sure you will go on to read the originals, which are all available in Cork City Libraries.

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Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul
Michael Reidforgotten

Forty years ago many Irish people heard about Latin America only in the context of the work of Irish missionary priests amongst the Peruvian Indians and in the shanty towns of Sao Paolo, as described in the Far East, the missionary magazine of the Columban Order. In the nineteen-eighties, the era when Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush dominated world politics, the news from Latin America was of murder and massacres at the hands of right-wing death squads owing allegiance to thuggish dictators supported by Washington. In between we caught occasional glimpses of the samba rhythms of Brazil, the controlled passion of Argentinean tango, the magnificent Inca remains of the high Andes in Peru, and the ecological treasure store of the vast Amazon basin.
Forgotten Continent : the Battle for Latin America’s Soul sets out to explain why a region with such an abundance of natural and human resources has so far failed to make the leap from third world to first world, to leave behind forever the world of shanty town and death squad. Reid, who was for many years the Economist correspondent in the region, sees more grounds for optimism than other commentators. It is true that there are fewer dictators in Latin America now than at any time in the last sixty years, and he describes in detail the successful transition of Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to free-market democracy, in spite of the economic downturn in the region after the turn of the millennium which had severe implications for the economy and social cohesion of Argentina in particular.
The author covers the history of the region from the Spanish and Portuguese conquests through the dismantling of empire in the nineteenth century and the populism of twentieth-century leaders in the mould of Juan Peron of Argentina. While condemning the human rights abuses of Pinochet’s regime in Chile he praises that benighted dictator’s economic liberalization of the country, arguing that this is the reason why Chile, of all the countries of Latin America, now scores highest in many indexes of social progress. He describes the movement towards land reform in a continent where until recently a tiny percentage of the population owned the vast majority of productive land, and he emphasizes that it is in the reform of education, in particular, that the key to the future prosperity of Latin America lies, comparing it to Ireland where the presence of a large and well-educated workforce has been vital to our recent success. He praises the Bolsa Familia programme in Brazil, initiated by President Lula, which channels aid to the poorest families on the condition that the children so aided must continue to attend school. Bolsa Familia is the first programme in Latin America to reach the thousands who live outside the state system – in one shanty town, or favela, in Rio de Janeiro, there are 300,000 people living in a parallel city where the entire income of a family for a month may be no more than 100 Brazilian reais, or 39 euros, hardly the price of a dinner in the tourist hotels of Ipanema. The scheme has been widely imitated in other Latin American countries.
For Reid the bad apple is Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader who peddles socialism, land reform, and redistribution of income while remaining in Reid’s eyes a confirmed populist. He has set back the cause of democracy in the region by holding successive referendums to retain power in defiance of constitutional constraints, buying the support of the oppressed with oil revenues, while his rhetorical flourishes frighten off the foreign investment which Latin America so badly needs. Yet there is some evidence for Reid’s optimism in Chavez’s recent loss of a referendum to grant him the presidency of Venezuela for life.
Tim O’Mahony

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The Vatican Pimpernel: The Wartime Exploits of Monsignor Hugh O’Flahertyvatican
Brian Fleming

Fact is often stranger than fiction; the story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty is such an example. The Vatican Pimpernel: The Wartime Exploits of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty by Brian Fleming tells this story in thriller style, from O’Flaherty’s birth in Kiskeam in 1898 to a staunchly Republican family, to his ordination in Rome in 1925 and subsequent return to Rome in 1938 to work in the Holy Office. During the German occupation of Rome from 1942 to 1944, he ran an escape organization for Allied POWs and civilians, including Jews. He placed thousands into safety and was known as ‘the Pimpernel of the Vatican’. When the Allies entered Rome he had saved over 6,000 lives. This is an absorbing tale and one that will have the reader enthralled at the bravery of O’Flaherty and his network. Yet the only monument to him in Ireland is a grove of Italian trees planted in Killarney National Park in 1994. David O’Brien

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Dorothy Macardle: A Life macardle
Nadia Clare Smith

Nadia Clare Smith examines Dorothy Macardle, in Dorothy Macardle: A Life  - a 2007 publication by Dublin’s Woodfield Press. Born in Dundalk in 1889, Macardle became an internationally renowned historian, playwright and writer during her lifetime, and remained politically active until her death in 1958. A member of Cumann na mBan, she was a committed nationalist, and became a close associate of prominent republicans, including Eamon de Valera. She also worked as a journalist and was an early correspondent for Erskine Childers’ ‘An Phoblacht’ newspaper in the 1920s. Her first play was staged in Dublin in 1918. She was imprisoned during the civil war, and upon her release in 1923 became a full-time writer. Her most famous work was ‘The Irish Republic’, published in 1937. In later years, Macardle became a leading civil rights activist. This is the first major study of her life and work. It is available now at Cork City Libraries’ Reference Department.
Stephen Leach

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The Fifty Minute Mermaid: Poems in Irish mermaid

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill's collection of poems on the merfolk, a people of the sea who, in a mixture of folk tradition and invention, have come up on to dry land and live amongst us unawares, who, in Muldoon's translation, "have suffered the trauma of being left high and dry" is truly breathtaking.
In Ireland the seal-wife has long represented exile and alienation, the one who, having lost her sealskin, is trapped on dry land forever, remembering with regret a former life. The merfolk in these poems, in Irish na murúcha, live under an unlucky star, and in speaking of them Ní Dhomhnaill speaks of humanity too - we are suffering a similar grief; as the trauma of being left high and dry is often the nature of things.
The richness of these poems is revealed at every turn. Na Murúcha agus an litríocht describes how, though they have knowledge of their own merfolk's tongue, they are not anxious to use it, just as we are reluctant to use our native Irish, a matter of regret all the more profound for Ní Dhomhnaill's great confidence and finesse in the language.
Ta aithreachais orthu mar fhágadar é
agus caitheamh i ndiaidh an tseanshaoil
ar mhórán; mar sin féin ní bhíd ag cáiseamh
mar is maith a thuigeann siad gur fíor
nach bhfuil aon dul siar,
Is cé nách mbeidh a leithéidí arís ann,
beag ná mór,
ní scríobhann siad dréachta filíochta nó caibidilí leabhar
ag maíomh as.
Fagann siad na cúraimí sin
faoi na Blascaodaigh.

The poet opens up far landscapes of the mind, full of the "Fáinne", Gaeilgeoirí, the poor mouth, school Irish, our love and hatred of Peig Sayers, loss, self-hatred, resignation, and cultural impoverishment.
 In Muldoon's translation of another poem, a meeting is described between the merfolk and St. Brendan:
Brendan asked her which of the two choices she would prefer,
'to go immediately to heaven or to return to the territory of her forbears.
'The mermaid answered in a dialect that only Brendan himself could understand
That she would prefer to go to heaven - 'for I can already hear
the voices of the angels singing the praises of the All-Powerful Creator.' Then she received the Eucharist and died immediately
without any anxiety or worry, and Brendan had her buried with great ceremony.
There is nothing at all in that description that doesn't chime
in with my own personal experience of the merfolk...
But who is to say what the mermaid said if the only one who understood her language was Brendan? And what good was done to her by "the great ceremony of her funeral"? The merfolk are as credulous as ourselves and are just as easily persuaded by priests and prophets.
Other poems of great power include Glór an uisce or Water Voice and An Mhurúch agus an Sagart Paróiste or Mermaid with Parish Priest, about a mermaid who used to be sent to the parish priest with messages, but the priest was abusing her. This mermaid wasn't so fatalistic:
Sa deireadh dhiúltaigh sí glan dul ann.
Is rud a bhí an-ait, ni dúirt an bhean rialta faic
is cuireadh íobartach beag eile chuige thar a ceann.

Muldoon's English version reads:
In the end she refused point-blank to go over there again.
To her astonishment the nun made no comment whatsoever, right
and another little victim was sent over in her stead.

In one of the later poems in the collection Ní Dhomhnaill mentions "an mhurúch seo'gainne", "our own mermaid" and suddenly these sad, funny, strange and troubled beings are not living in a secondary world like Tolkien's hobbits. They are living in our own houses, sitting at our tables, eating the food we eat, we know them as intimately as we know ourselves. This is a magical collection of poems, both Ní Dhomhnaill's originals and Muldoon's translations. 
Tim O'Mahony

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Beara the Unexplored Peninsula

beara
Beara the Unexplored Peninsula is a celebration of one of the most beautiful and magical places in Ireland. Festooned with coves and harbours, great and small, and dotted with picturesque towns and villages, this mist covered neck of land is superbly revealed. Photographs by Francis Twomey speak for themselves while an accompanying text by Tony McGettigan provides entertaining and informative commentary. This book is an invaluable vade mecum for the traveller of Beara.
Kieran Burke

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The Boy in the Striped Pyamasstripedpyjamas

John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, intended for teenage bookworms has found a wider audience. Boyne’s story is at once a wonderful depiction of childhood innocence and a harrowing tale of destruction. It centres on Bruno, young eight year old son of the commandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp during the Second World War.
The plot revolves around the protagonist’s move from Berlin to his new home at Auschwitz. Unsettled by the loss of friends and familiar surroundings, the boy is curious however about the people in pyjamas and the fences and buildings he can see from his home. This, of course is the concentration camp, though Bruno does not have full realisation of it as an evil place. He is forbidden to go near the camp but in exploring its perimeter befriends Shmuel, a Jewish boy. This relationship blossoms in spite of the barriers and fences between the two boys. By a quirk of fate the friends unite holding hands, one by design one by accident. This is a book that lingers long in the mind. Read it.
David O’Brien

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 City boy : my life in New York during the 1960s and 1970s by Edmund White (Bloomsbury 2009)City Boy

Two short extracts catch the flavour of White’s memoir. Remembering a friend he writes, “there’s another more moving aspect of having really known someone destined for fame…they existed in the present, not in the safety of the past…as vulnerable to injury as the next creature…’ White’s is the story of that same vulnerability in his own life, the friends who sustained him, and the creative ferment of a city where “a tradition of honourable poverty” still remained for artists and intellectuals in unheated and unfurnished lofts in Greenwich Village.

Which brings me to the other extract… White is a gay man who lived through Stonewall riots, Gay Liberation, and the advent of The AIDS epidemic. He was a witness of the Stonewall Riots, but writes “[Gay] leaders like to criticize young gays for not taking the movement [for gay liberation] seriously, but remember at Stonewall we were defending our right to have fun, to meet each other, and to have sex”. This memoir is also a celebration of a gay man’s sexual and emotional life in the twenty years when, in the words of poet Thom Gunn, to live in a gay milieu was to “have a shared sense of adventure, thrilling, hilarious, experimental”.

White brings it all to life in measured, beautiful prose, brilliantly evoking a time, a place, a mood, and a lost innocence.
Tim O'Mahony

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Morality for Beautiful Girlsmorality

In Morality for Beatuiful Girls, the third instalment of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe is forced to make difficult choices.
Faced with a slowdown in business at The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency at Gaborone, Botswana, Mma Ramotswe moves the business into the office of “the excellent” Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.
This hard-working, generous-hearted mechanic is behaving oddly, however.  Disinterested and lethargic, in short, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is depressed; so much so that he cannot continue to run his business. Mma Ramotswe's assistant Mma Makutsi is eager for promotion, and there are now two orphan children whom Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni must raise.
As always with the Precious Ramotswe novels, however, the story of how people live, how deeply they empathize with others, and how well they value courtesy and respect  forms the real story.  Mma Ramotswe holds this novel’s central position: ever observing, remarking on, and indeed influencing the African world around her.
Clare Doyle

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Are you Still Below? The Ford Marina Plant, Cork, 1917 – 1984stillbelow

In 1917, the Company of Henry Ford and Son Ltd. was established in Cork. Ford was economically motivated -England needed tractors to improve agricultural production to combat the German U-boat blockade, yet he may also have been influenced by his parents’ beginnings in Ireland’s second city. For 67 years Fords would be an integral part of the economic and social life of Cork. Built on the old Cork Park Racecourse site at the Marina, its workforce was regarded as elite among the working classes.
The plant, designed by the famous Kahn Brothers of Detroit, opened on 1 July 1919, one of the most modern industrial plants in Europe. On 3 July 1919, the first tractor rolled off the assembly line. Later, the plant would diversify and assemble cars and vans. At its peak, Fords employed 7,000 men.
The Cork plant forged a unique, almost symbiotic relationship with Fords at Dagenham to which many Irish workers traveled for work during layoffs at the Marina.  Emigrants returning to Cork for holidays in style and finery, with traces of an English accent entered Cork folklore as ‘Dagenham Yanks’.
There was the relentless, monotonous demand of the assembly line, however, frequent lay offs, unofficial disputes (Fords did not recognize trades union until 1950), and class distinction between office staff and factory workers. In 1984, unable to cope with the removal of tariff barriers after Ireland joined the EEC, Fords closed. Cork City reeled from its closure.
These events, and many more, are splendidly chronicled in Miriam Nyhan’s Are You Still Below? Using company and trade union archival material, newspapers, photographs and interviews with former members of staff the book vividly recalls the long history of the Cork plant. Miriam Nyhan has produced an important contribution to the economic and social history of Cork.
Kieran Burke

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God is not Great – How Religion Poisons Everythinggod

God is not Great follows in the footsteps of books such as Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Thought provoking and challenging, Hitchens’ argument proposes an a-religious way of being: in a non –objective manner however.
This author’s emotive viewpoint lacks objectivity, and an initial reasonable tone is lost in impassioned argument as the book progresses.
Given the contemporary nature of its subject matter, God is Not Great is worth consideration nonetheless.
Jamie O’Connell

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The Accidental Mindaccidental

Have you ever wondered…  why are the events in dreams so bizarre? Why can’t I tickle myself? Does playing classical music to an infant help its brain to grow? If so, David Linden’s The Accidental Mind is a must read. This lucid presentation of the functioning of the human brain as currently understood by neuroscientists investigates memory, emotion, motor functioning, sleep, vision and even dreams, in accessible prose. The author goes as far as to investigate the localization of functions in the human brain - yet makes the mistake of ascribing a property to a part of the mind that may only be ascribed to a person as a whole. While a visual cortex grants an ability to see, e.g. it is the individual human agent, who sees. This is a hugely enjoyable book however. 

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Jigs and Reelsjigs

There is certain quirkiness to Joanne Harris’ work and Jigs and Reels is no exception to this rule. An intriguing collection of short tales, with Jigs and Reels Harris muses on present day preoccupations.  
In “Auto-da-fe” the protagonist’s road rage culminates in a vicious attack on another driver. A Place in The Sun takes a further modern focus as its central character obsessively strives for acceptance through physical perfection.
The most appealing stories relay the happenings of ordinary lives; amongst them  Faith and Hope  a wonderful flight to freedom by two retired ladies who outwit their carers at Meadowbank Home for a day - and Breakfast at Tesco’s where the lonely Miss Golightly befriends the hapless Cheryl. 
This may be Harris’s first foray into short story writing; it most certainly will not be her last. 
Fionuala Ronan

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Emerging Corkemerging

This celebration of Cork’s architectural heritage published by Cork Civic Trust comprises over one hundred images of “the real capital”.  A chronology of structural design Emerging Cork examines the face of Ireland’s second city during a period of unprecedented boom and presents a ‘pictorial journey’ of contemporary Cork.
This book is an artistic triumph - images verge on abstraction, with photographs of established landmarks contrasting sharp repetitions with curvilinear aspects of design. Representations of buildings yet to be completed promise exciting developments for a Cork city of the
21st Century. Emerging Cork presents this city’s modern day architecture at its finest.
Jamie O’Connell

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Englebyengleby

Sebastian Faulks’ narrative introduces the seemingly uninspired life of Mike Engleby from youth to middle age. We join our protagonist as an English student in 1970s Cambridge: the author artfully conjures Engleby's world of muffled sexual longing and folk rock evenings in the student bar. This character is awkward and socially aloof; an obsession with the attractive Jen is his only link to the undergrad crowd. Jen then disappears in mysterious circumstances - Engleby heads into 1980s London and journalism; but the strange vanishing haunts the rest of this novel.
Faulks has created, in Mike Engleby, an inner world of delicate observations; he finds a girlfriend, and takes a job at a broadsheet, interviewing Jeffrey Archer and Alan Clarke. But there are attacks of instability: "The centripetal force of Engleby failed and I began to fly apart, into my atomic pieces." Engleby pores over Jen's diary, stolen from her Cambridge room.  
The author’s moving final passages are faithful to the experience of Engleby and Jen. Faulks writes lines that speak to the heart effectively. 
Clare Doyle

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Every Single Ball: The Brian Corcoran Storyeveryball

Every Single Ball is a story of sport, endurance and a passion for Gaelic Games.  A journal of Cork’s own Brian Corcoran during the course of a Championship Season, this chronological review of games is interspersed with personal anecdotes and flashbacks to previous hurling and football GAA seasons.
The book becomes the story of one man and the realisation that he is doing too much, and illustrates the point where Corcoran quits the game altogether only to risk a comeback against the odds.
Every Single Ball is a must read for the sports fan and indeed those interested in one individual’s single minded pursuit of success followed by a term in the wilderness. This is a story of personal triumph by one of Irish sports gentlemen. Written in an entertaining style Every Single Ball allows a unique insight into Cork Hurling from a player’s viewpoint.  The title comes from a catch phrase used by the Cork Hurling Team of 2006 in their pursuit of the elusive third All Ireland Hurling Championship in a row.
David O’Brien

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Father Prout of Watergrasshill 1757-1830frprout

Father Prout, born Daniel Prout in 1757 at Ballingarry, Tipperary became parish priest of Watergrasshill (then known as the parish of Balinalty and Ardnageehy) in 1806. Previously based at Annacarty in Tipperary, Prout was welcomed to Cork by Bishop Moylan who installed him as parish priest at Watergrasshill.
The church in same said parish was in a bad state – Prout immediately drew up plans, and raised funds  by levying an unofficial toll on the Cork-Dublin road, (in keeping with his reputation for eccentricity).
Daniel Prout died in 1830. Watergrasshill Community Association must be congratulated on rescuing him from obscurity in this lively book which also includes a brief biography of Francis Sylvester Mahony.
Kieran Burke

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The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back and How We can Still Save Humanitygaia

James Lovelock, gifted scientist, is best known for his proposal of the Gaia hypothesis - the idea that the earth, atmosphere, oceans, geological processes and all living creatures on the earth form a vast, complex, intertwined system that has operated for billions of years; so that conditions on earth remain optimal for life despite the increasing heat from the sun. Lovelock calls this system Gaia and contends that it has the purpose of ensuring the survival of life as a whole, rather than the continued existence of any one form or species. Indeed Gaia as a system will turn against any one predatory energy in its efforts to sustain balance.
This book guides the reader through the problem of global warming and the relentless encroachment of agriculture on areas that were formerly wildernesses which are endangering the future of life on the planet.
Lovelock is a rare creature a genuinely independent thinker. Only the use of nuclear power, he feels, will free us from reliance on the burning of fossil fuel for energy, (the chief cause of global warming); he argues that banning the use of DDT has caused millions of deaths in the tropics from malaria and other insect-borne diseases. This book provokes, surprises, alarms and moves the reader.  The author writes with passion, and sometimes anguish, in his attempt to prevent humanity destroying itself through greed and short-sightedness.
Kieran Burke

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Say What: New Words Around TownSay what: new words around town

Say What: New Words Around Town - a humorous dictionary of casual terms that have entered our vocabulary over the last number of years covers modern, sometimes irreverent slang, from “Alcopuppies”  to “Yule Grinner”, with sharp illustrations throughout.
This anthology taken from a long running column by Keith Barker Main from the British Metro publication is entertainment itself. 
Humorous entries such as Barker-Main’s description of a “Battenberg”, (a holidaymaker whose sunbathing efforts result in a tanning tapestry from white to red to brown) make Say What: New Words Around Town ideal summertime reading.
Jamie O’Connell

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Water like a stonewaterlikeastone

Water like a stone is the eleventh book in the detective series by Deborah Crombie featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, colleagues in Scotland Yard and life partners when they go home at night. Gemma, divorced, has a young son, Toby, while Kincaid too has a son, Kit, who was born to his wife after his first marriage ended. The twist here is that Kincaid knew nothing of the birth of this boy, now a troubled adolescent, until his mother was the victim of a particularly bloody murder. Now the four have set up home together and the series is as much about the development of trust between Kincaid and Gemma, between Kit and his new stepmother, and between Kit and his new brother, as it is about police work.
The latest novel opens as the family go to Cheshire for their first Christmas with Kincaid’s parents, who live in rural Cheshire. Gemma is worried about Kit, who is doing badly at school and who has become sullen and withdrawn, but she is conscious of the need to tread carefully in the uncertain ground between father and son. However when they arrive in Cheshire in heavy snowfall these worries take second place as Kincaid’s sister Juliet discovers the mummified body of a baby in a barn which her building firm is turning into a luxury residence. Juliet’s family is troubled too: her marriage is breaking up and her elder child, a daughter called Lally, is exhibiting increasingly wild and dangerous behaviour.
Kincaid and Gemma are drawn into the police investigation of the discovery of the dead child, as the investigating officer is a childhood friend of Kincaid. Juliet’s husband’s business partner is also in the circle, as the barn is down the road from where he lives. So too are the canal people, those who live in barges on the Shropshire Union canals, both the traditional narrow boat workers, and the new leisure boaters. Annie Lebow is the owner of one of these ‘weekend’ boats, and the Wain family, isolated by a tragic past which connects them to Lebow, are cornered between the investigating officers and their fear of officialdom.  The tangled threads of the mystery come together in the canal people, with fatal consequences, and, as cousins Kit and Lally become closer, the book moves to a nail-biting finish, all the more striking when set against the quiet snow-covered reaches of the canal and the civilised world of Kincaid’s parents’ Christmas preparations.
All in all another excellent novel from Crombie, who lives in Texas but writes beautifully of the English countryside.
Tim O’Mahony

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A new view of the Irish Languagenewview

Editors Caoilfhionn Nic Pháidín and Seán Ó Cearnaigh have done us all a service by focussing on the state of our first official language in their new work, a collection of essays by various scholars entitled A new view of The Irish Language published by Cois Life Press earlier this year. In the introduction they offer these essays as a successor to Brian Ó Cuív’s View of the Irish language, a series of Thomas Davis lectures published in 1969. Now, as then, the fortunes of the language may be summed up in the phrase ‘a glass half full or a glass half empty’, but the new publication gives some credence to the idea that Irish is in a better position now than it has been since the foundation of the state.


 Even since the 2002 census there has been a marked increase in the percentage of those who list themselves as speakers of Irish, both within the Gaeltacht and in the country as a whole, and more importantly there is an increase in those who say they use Irish on a daily basis. Schoolchildren excepted, this figure has gone from roughly 79,000 to 109,000, a remarkable jump. However, more than two-thirds of Gaeltacht schoolchildren who list themselves as daily speakers do not speak Irish outside of school.


We are all guilty of a certain amount of exaggeration in our assessment of our ability to speak Irish, but the essays do portray a more favourable attitude to the language in recent years. The late 1960s and the ‘70s were the years of the Language Freedom Movement, when Irish was compulsory, and failure to pass the Leaving Certificate exam in Irish meant no Leaving Certificate at all. The language was poorly taught in school, the textbooks were old-fashioned, and no attempt was made to encourage students to speak Irish or to integrate the study of Irish with our ordinary lives. Blasketwoman Peig Sayers topped one poll for the most hated person in Ireland! In my own Oral Irish exam for the Leaving Cert, the examiner asked me about Diarmuid Ó hÉigeartaigh, who had been born and reared in the next parish, Caheragh, in West Cork, and had published an autobiography in Irish, Is uasal céard. I had never heard of it. Neither was it ever pointed out to us that our great grandparents, who were still alive in the 1920s, were native speakers. So many opportunities lost.


The book makes a number of valid points in the debate about future language policy. Should language policy be aimed at those who speak Irish, or should it be aimed at the whole population? The difference here, as pointed out, is between maintenance and revival. Should we be aiming to preserve Irish as a national symbol rather than as a language spoken by the vast majority? Is it fair to the people of the Gaeltacht to expect them to bear the whole responsibility for keeping the link to the living Irish of our forbears, a link we all want to preserve but which we do precious little about? Is it possible to maintain Irish as a living language in the remaining Gaeltachts, with the pressure of an English-dominated media? Is Irish going to become a kind of ‘pidgin’ Irish, such as the phrase heard recently, ‘An enjoyeáil tú do holidays?’. A great part of everyday Irish spoken in the Gaeltachts is like that, particularly amongst younger people. Is that such a very bad thing?


The book also includes a number of  illuminating essays on the literature of the modern language, discussing poets such as Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Louis de Paor, Biddy Jenkinson, and Cathal Ó Searcaigh, who have explored new themes and visions in their work, and point out the seminal importance of the journal Innti, whose first editors were Gabriel Rosenstock and the late Michael Davitt. In Irish language fiction too, the influence of magic realism is discussed and many innovative and experimental writers are mentioned, including Tómás Mac Síomóin, Mícheál Ó Conghaile, Pádraig Standún, Lorcán S. Ó Treasaigh, and Alan Titley.


Silly episodes such as the controversy about the proper name of Dingle have obscured much of the good work done by the state and the present Minister for the Gaeltacht. Irish enjoys an official position of strength now, both at home and in the European Union, and while the translation of thousands of documents into Irish is expensive, it does give a rationale to the study of the language. Once teaching was the only career open to those with a third-level qualification in Irish, but now there are so many positions as translators, interpreters, and media personnel that Irish in school is already acquiring a new importance as a useful subject, instead of its old image as drudge and hardship.


This book is a thought-provoking and timely collection of well-balanced essays, and is beautifully produced by Cois Life.

Tim O’Mahony

TopJCHAS 2008



The Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society 2008. Vol. 113.

‌One of the most venerable societies in Cork, the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society, recently issued its journal for 2008. The 80th birthday of the outstanding scholar Diarmaid Ó Murchadha is celebrated in this issue with articles in Irish and English on medieval Gaelic manuscripts and history and on Cork placenames, topics on which Dr Ó Murchadha has written with authority. Other highlights of the journal include a splendid article by John A. Murphy on ‘Six South Munster popular songs and their background’, an article by Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel on the architect Henry Hill’s journey through the south of Ireland in 1831, a fascinating article by Mary Lantry on the various depictions of the arms of Cork city and a spirited contribution from Pat Holohan on two Cork parliamentary elections in the 1830s and their connection with a broadsheet ballad.The 2008 volume maintains the high standards of scholarship and readability of its predecessors. It is available in the Local Studies Department of Cork City Libraries.
Kieran Burke

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In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth CenturyIn Europe

Geert Mak’s In Europe is at once a travel book and a meditation on the history of Europe in the twentieth century. Each chapter is set in either one of Europe’s great cities, or in places that are associated with some of the grim events in the continent’s recent history, e.g. Srebrenica.  Mak visits and revisits Berlin, Moscow, London and other capitals and vividly recreates many of the historic happenings that helped chart the course of European history. This author’s descriptions are always interesting and his grasp of the major personalities of twentieth century is very impressive. Brilliantly written and displaying an encyclopaedic knowledge of modern European culture, In Europe is a profound study on the history of modern Europe.  In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century is available now at Cork City Libraries.
Kieran Burke

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Foul Play: What’s wrong with sport? Foul Play (cover)
Joe Humphreys

This book might more aptly be titled "The Sport Delusion". In his fresh and challenging review of a world inordinately focused on the pursuit of competitive sport — in the media, business, education institutions, community life, ‘cultural’ activities, and everyday personal lives — Humphreys challenges the bona fides of competitive sport. While praising uncompetitive play, he argues that most ‘sport’ activities are exercises in exclusion, tied closely to identifying weakness among would-be participants. Competitive sport is seen as far from innocent fun, despite the repeated mantras that "sport is good for you" or "sport improves character", which can convince uncritical thinkers who easily overlook very many disreputable aspects of sport, which he sees as a "moral experiment that has gone badly wrong".

Humphreys argues that, to be immersed in the world of competitive sport, people must take seriously what is essentially a triviality, must debase and stupefy themselves, must engage in various convoluted rituals not unlike religion, and must believe the unbelievable while they embrace their ‘faith’. Furthermore, like religious fundamentalists, whose lifeblood is attacking people who don’t share their particular faith, sports fans tend to define themselves by their opposition to ‘the other’. They can often switch support to a particular team because they hate that team’s opponent.

The author points out that sport often provides one of the last refuges for forms of widespread intolerance — such as, racism, sexism, homophobia, animal cruelty, foul language, and divisions between race, gender, and class — that are otherwise removed from modern organized activities. Hatred in sport has claimed a few thousand victims through hooliganism and public fights, sometimes termed ‘a bit of fun’ by fans.

Humphreys contends that the real cost of sport is in our time lost in an escape from reality, an escape that can sap life and its very meaning. Noam Chomsky believes that sport has a retarding effect on society, "to take apart the system of illusions and deception which functions to prevent understanding of contemporary reality ... instead of questions that really matter for human life, their own included". Sport is a distraction that the world can ill-afford, e.g., many sports fans know the minutiae of sports statistics while having no clue of the 1998-2003 Congo war that left 4 million dead. Sport is the modern equivalent of Nero’s Roman fiddle (Chomsky): we play it while the world burns.

Another negative of competitive sport is that it can be seen to be anti-family, contrary to the promoted view that it brings families closer. The author sees fathers who wax lyrical about football yet are found wanting when more serious issues concerning their children could be discussed: the intensity of sport fanatics tends to increase in proportion to their neglect of family duties. ‘Collateral damage’ in family relationships can be manifested where children might know almost everything about their father’s favourite football team while knowing little about their father as a person. Athletes sacrifice quality of life; family; personal development, including education; weekends; kids’ birthdays, etc.

Humphreys cites research findings on the sociology of sport showing that sport legitimizes egocentrism, and — rather than developing virtues like fair play, social cohesion, respect for others — instead encourages even amateurs to cheat, to distort rules, and to show disrespect for fellow competitors, while followers tend to engage in boorishness. Sport competitions encourage athletes to commit what would normally be considered moral transgressions. In turn, sport organizations try to deflect attention from the bad qualities of sport towards the individuals who are seen to transgress.

The author challenges sports journalists, whose collective duty he sees as trying to intellectualize the unintelligent, embellishing straightforward statements about the shallow pursuit of kicking a ball around a field. While he is sceptical of professional commentators as they try to ‘brain up’ sport, he is more scathing of academics who lose themselves when stating the obvious within their own self-sustaining constructs, since any effort to intellectualize the ‘dumb’ pursuit of competitive sport is futile, adding that research on sport tends to be either humbug or banal.

If one were to classify sport with other organized activities, Humphreys believes sport might compare with MTV’s ‘Jackass’ pursuits rather than with refined pursuits such as literature or art. He contrasts the behaviour of match followers with those attending an art display, who are never heard shouting abuse at the art curator to "get another pair of f***ing glasses", or how you never see head-butting at book fairs. Instead, competitive sport permits or even encourages behaviour verging on the psychopathic.

Humphreys argues that fairness in sport competition is only an illusion and that cheating in competitive sport is de rigueur. Mean-spirited judgementalism is the stock response today to mistakes, and is a new type of puritanism which is getting worse. His arguments reflect Stephen Blair who suggested that, "The ‘high priests of Fleet Street thrive in this heightened world of judgementalism. In today’s world of tabloid-driven, manufactured outrage, celebrities and public figures are ‘fair game’ for abuse, fanned on by the pack mentality of sports enthusiasts". The hallmark of a fan is often someone who easily takes offence, since sport is associated with heightened judgementalism as well as being a theatre for exaggerated emotions. The stereotypical sports fan is not known for his sense of perspective, as he is compelled to eulogize rather than praise, to condemn rather than censure, and he is as eager to give offence as to take it. Sport fanatics also fail to see the bigger picture. Sports administrators can be very inconsistent: one time ignoring cheating while another time victimizing the perpetrator.

The author is also critical of politicians who spend vast sums of public money on competitive sports facilities, particularly contact sports, "detrimental to individuals’ moral character", adding that the pack mentality evident at competitions also dilutes players’ sense of personal moral responsibility. The book presents a variety of other critical comments concerning sport, e.g., that all sporting codes have elitism, arrogance, a sanctimonious air; that gambling is a sister pursuit of sport; that sports journalism often more closely resembles advertising than news; and that the hallmark of a closed society is an unhealthy obsession with sport. Humphreys also argues that competitive sport is often quite unhealthy for athletes, leading to steroid taking and long-term damage; starving or overeating for results; damaging joints; not to mention contact sport damage, such as spinal injuries and fatalities.

On the plus side, the author argues that the positive aspect of sport is sport that is performed for its own sake or for fun, i.e., without the goal of victory. The benefit of non-competitive sport roughly equates to the benefits of play: exercise, socializing, and even discipline, courage, and invention. He suggests that the Special Olympics, by not focusing primarily on competition, do advance personal development and self-esteem. As John Gray said, "The best fisherman is not the one who catches the most fish but the one who enjoys fishing the most".

Overall, the author sees competitive sport as ultimately a dangerous emotional crutch since teams lose most of the time. Reflecting Chomsky, Humphreys surmises that maybe sport is craved because it creates fleeting euphoria papering over the cracks of human despair, making everyman’s humdrum life bearable — and this obsession thrives in a world where those who do not share an interest in sport can be seen as partaking in one of the most subversive acts in society today. For sport agnostics and sport fans, Foul Play provides a well articulated challenge to the all-pervasive goliath of a world increasingly focused on the distraction of competitive sport.
John Mullins

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Books on Fire: The tumultuous story of the world’s great libraries
Lucien X. PolastronBooks on Fire

In the words of the author, “almost as old as the idea of the library is the urge to control and destroy it.” For millennia, the world’s greatest libraries have been subject to wanton acts of vandalism, from the burning of the library at Alexandria to the destruction which occurred in Iraq as recently as the past decade. “Books on Fire” follows this trend, and attempts to uncover the reasons why seats of learning and knowledge have traditionally posed such a threat to various (often extremist) powers. This book is quite academic but very readable for persons interested in matters such as censorship and freedom of expression (Germany in the 1930s and Cambodia in the 1970s are cases which stand out as examples of extreme censorship). A thought provoking book, which is available now from the lending department of Cork City Libraries.


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An A to Z of Youghal
Tim FitzGerald

A-Z of Youghal
'An A to Z of Youghal’ edited by Tim FitzGerald, with entries from a variety of contributors, is an enjoyable book to dip into for information on the history of the famous old ‌walled East Cork town. There are entries on prominent persons associated with the history of Youghal including Cromwell and the ‘witch of Youghal’, Florence Newton. Other entries deal with the cinema in Youghal, the railway line, the lighthouse and a fascinating entry on ‘Quotations’ which lists the use of the name ‘Youghal’ in the works of famous writers including Rudyard Kipling and James Joyce. The entries are succinct, well chosen and replete with little known facts about the town. All in all, the book is a little gem. ‘An A to Z of Youghal’ is available in the Local Studies Library at Cork City Libraries.

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The Pacific War
The Pacific War‌William B. Hopkins

The author of this well structured book, unlike most of the Second World War historians, actually fought in the pacific theatre. Hopkins admits that he knew very little about how the battles against Japan were won or lost. In the years that past after the war Hopkins set about informing himself about those battles. Many massive volumes have been published about those battles along with the memoirs of the senior commanders involved. Worthy yet wordy texts, which tell you what happened and when. Hopkins’s book is different. He focuses on why these battles were fought, how decisions were made, and what actually happened at the strategic level. Answering questions which have been difficult to get answers to, and thereby giving us a much deeper understanding of why the pacific war evolved the way it did. The book is well thought out and structured, making the insights Hopkins reviles readily accessible. The Pacific War, the Strategy, Politics, and Players That Won the War is available now at Cork City Libraries.

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The Vikings in Ireland
Mary ValenteThe Vikings in Ireland

The popular image of the Viking age in Ireland is often limited to marauding warriors and prowling long ships. This is certainly how the Viking age began in Ireland, but is this all there is to this period? Mary Valente thinks not. In her new book ‘The Vikings in Ireland’, she argues that the Viking age saw the introduction of urbanisation in Ireland. The expansion of trade, both on a national and most importantly an international level and the introduction of new materials and technologies are just tow of the profound changes that they brought to Ireland. Yet the task of sifting the remaining records and making sense of the place names and family histories and surnames is no mean feat! Yet Valente manages to do this and present her findings in a way which keep the reader interested in her subject. The first chapter in very interesting in the picture it paints of Ireland in the seventh and eight centuries. The inclusion of easy to read maps in the book will also picq the interest of the ‘self thought’ historian as much as the more academically minded. This book is a must for anyone interested in the development of Ireland and its towns and cities, including of course Cork! ‘The Vikings in Ireland; Settlement, trade and urbanisation’ is now available at Cork City Libraries.

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Soupers and Jumpers :The Protestant Missions in Connemara 1848-1937Soupers and Jumpers
Miriam Moffitt

'Weren't they Soupers?' was still a common but whispered comment in the West Cork of my childhood. The sting of Souperism lingered on in many parts of rural Ireland, especially along the western seaboard. In this book Miriam Moffitt disperses many of the myths which surround the work of the Protestant Mission societies, or Soupers as they were widely known, amongst the starving Catholic peasantry of 19th century Ireland.
The Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics claimed to have had thousands of Catholic children in their Mission schools and orphanages in Connemara in the 1850s, and boasted of large attendances of converts at Sunday services in the many Mission churches, most now demolished, which they built throughout Connemara, using funds donated by English Evangelicals. The extent of these claims has been questioned but Moffitt shows convincingly that many Catholics in Connemara did send their children to the Protestant Mission schools, particularly in the early years of the 1850s, and converted themselves, to curry favour with the Mission clergy and thereby obtain the food relief to which the Mission alone had access. The schools became distribution centres for food and clothing, 'scoileanna brocáin’ or in English, 'stirabout schools', where bible-reading and handouts went hand-in-hand. There can be no doubt that such handouts kept many alive in those bleak years, even if the price was high in terms of self-esteem and freedom of conscience. Whether the Missions refused aid to those who refused to convert is difficult to prove now, but the suspicion that they did, at least some of the time, is hard to banish.
Most of these 'Jumpers' reverted to Catholicism as times improved, though this was denied by Mission personnel. Baptismal records reproduced by Moffitt show that, surprisingly, many people moved in and out of both Communions as the times improved or disimproved. As a Protestant commentator rather lyrically put it, ‘the converts are like birds which visit milder climates at intervals, but their coming is a proof of great severity in their native country’.
Moffitt tells of the ambivalent attitude of many Protestants to the work of the Mission, particularly their discomfort with the insulting terms in which Catholic beliefs and practices were referred to by the preachers. Local Protestants realised that ties of family and community, if not of strong religious conviction, would make it difficult for Catholics to permanently convert, and they regretted the anti-Protestant feeling engendered by misguided zealots. Some converts who wished to adhere to Protestantism out of deep conviction undoubtedly emigrated to escape the boycott which the Catholic clergy imposed on 'Jumpers' and their families. A Protestant letter-writer, commenting on the fall in Protestant numbers recorded in the 1861 census for Connemara wrote, rather patronisingly, 'Converts were more likely to emigrate because of the freedom of mind and thought resulting from Protestant teaching...together with the gradual requirement of comfort which grows with Protestant customs...'.
Moffitt rightly asserts that it is impossible now to judge the motives of either the Protestant or Catholic protagonists of the Souper controversy in Connemara. What is certain is that the actions of the clergy on both sides left much to be desired, and that those who suffered were the poor who were torn to pieces between them. The saddest thing in a book filled with anecdotes of misery and hardship is the case of the Howell family of Omey Island near Clifden, which happened as late as 1890. The Howells had been 'Jumpers' but the father, dying, sent for the priest, as often happened with converts. However he died before the priest, Fr. Rhatigan, could reach the island and, in accordance with the boycott of Jumpers then in place amongst the Catholic clergy, Rhatigan would have nothing to do with the man's funeral, and forbade the neighbours to help. On the morning of the funeral the widow capitulated and agreed to have herself and her five children re-baptised as Catholics, whereupon Fr.Rhatigan relented and agreed to officiate at the funeral. Shame and degradation of this kind is not easily forgotten or forgiven and has played its part in strengthening the sectarianism which lies beneath the surface of Irish life in the South as well as the North of Ireland.
The Catholic Church in Ireland suffered too as a result of the Souper campaigns. The sustained attacks on Catholic beliefs and practices waged by the Protestant missions in Connemara, and their counterparts in other districts, including the Mizen peninsula in West Cork, put the Catholic hierarchy on a siege footing, and contributed to the peculiarly strict and joyless Catholicism of the 20th century in Ireland, in marked contrast to the easy freedom with which Catholics practiced their religion in pre-Famine times. The stereotype of the parish priest with his blackthorn stick is in part a descendant of men like Fr. Rhatigan who policed the outlying districts of Clifden for signs of heresy, and was not slow to wield his stick, or, in his case, according to Protestant witnesses, his whip, in defence of his Faith.
Moffitt's book is a fascinating read for the light it throws on Protestant-Catholic relations in modern Ireland, but also for its wealth of anecdote, for its rounded portrayal of the strong characters at the centre of the controversy, and for its evenhanded treatment of a still controversial subject. It is remarkable too for its compassionate portrayal of ordinary people in times of great hardship, some of them heroes but most of them like ourselves, doing their best to survive, and resigned to the many necessary compromises which all but saints and martyrs accept. As converts passing the Catholic church were reportedly heard to say, 'Slan agat anois a Dhia, go bhfásfaidh na bhfataí ('Goodbye for now, God, until the potatoes grow')

Tim O'Mahony

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The World Cup: The Complete History
Terry Crouch

The World Cup: The Complete History

Terry Crouch’s revised edition of his world cup history has been updated to include the 2006 finals in Germany. Far from being a compendium of world cup facts and figures, Crouch’s descriptions of major games and events bring to life each tournament. Each competition is described in succession, beginning with the first in 1930 (won by Uruguay, the hosts). Brazil has been the most successful nation at the finals, winning the trophy five times. The most prolific goal scorer was Fontaine of France, who scored thirteen goals at the 1958 finals. Every detail of each tournament is covered here - one deficit, perhaps, is a lack of photographs and colour. The World Cup: The Complete History is available to borrow now at Cork City Libraries.

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Swan Peak
James Lee BurkeSwan Peak

Fans of James Lee Burke will love the latest novel in the series featuring arch detective Dave Robincheaux, the troubled hero of a previous sixteen titles from the author. In Swan Peak, Detective Robincheaux is far from his urban habitat as he attempts to relax in the wilderness of rural Montana. This detective, and wife Molly, with sidekick Cleat Purcell, spend time at a friend's ranch; enjoying their distance from Louisiana in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Peace is soon shattered however, when two students are brutally murdered close by. Add to the mix a mysterious landowner and a history of local killings and Robincheaux is   soon involved. This classic James Lee Burke scene is well written - descriptive passages hold the reader as it builds layer upon layer of intrigue and plots up to the end. A great read!

David O'Brien

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Ratzinger's Faith: the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI
Tracey RowlandRatzinger's Faith

Known in liberal circles as God's Rottweiler, or the Enforcer, because of his sterling defence of orthodoxy during his tenure as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Tracey Rowland's work paints a very different picture of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Rowland has written a lucid and well-researched study of Pope Benedict's theology, which is an absolute pleasure to read. Though densely argued, and dealing with often abstruse concepts, it neither condescends to the theological layman nor presumes a knowledge which doesn't exist. Each new idea is introduced, explained and set in context so that the reader is kept abreast of the argument throughout.
Rowland has arranged her work in a logical progression. She bases her study on the widely accepted premise that Pope Benedict is a disciple of St. Augustine whereas his predecessor and most of the popes of the twentieth century were Thomists, taking their religious philosophy from the work of the medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas. She then goes on to show how this departure has coloured the present pope's view of the work of Vatican II, and how it has informed his ideas on a number of key areas in theology and church governance, including the Christocentric nature of the Church, the Church and the moral law, the authority of Scripture versus Tradition, the Church as community, the Church in the modern world, and finally, the Liturgy. Each of these topics is given a chapter of its own, and each chapter ends with a succinct resume of the relevant arguments and conclusions drawn.
Rowland's work will be of interest to many. Practicing Catholics and those of all religions and none who are interested in the role of the Catholic Church in the world will find it informative. So-called lapsed Catholics will find much of their experience reflected here, and will be surprised to learn that Pope Benedict, unlike his tabloid caricature, has no desire to return the Church to where it was before the Council. In fact he finds in the narrow moralism of that era the reason why many became disillusioned with the church, and left it in droves once the structures of authority were loosened. In the pope's own words, 'becoming a Christian is not taking out an insurance policy, it is not the private booking of an entry ticket to Heaven'.  It is, rather, 'reaching that point in love at which we recognise that we too need to be given something'. In this too is seen the influence of St. Augustine who held that the personal encounter between God and the individual is the foundation of Christianity.
Another group which might benefit from a reading of this book is the leadership of the great liberal crusades of our time, particularly in Ireland where the campaigns for contraception, divorce, abortion and homosexual marriage have generated such heat and anger. We often think that the institutional church is simply a group of embittered celibates who are determined to deny the rest of us the sexual pleasures which they have forsworn, and we are all the more determined thereby to defend our hard-won freedoms. Rowland's work shows us that the Church's prohibitions are not bloody-mindedness but part of a rich tradition of theological and philosophical study, which has a value in itself and deserves at least to be heard and respected, whether or not we choose to guide our actions by it.
  In short this is an excellent book, luminous in its prose, concise in its arguments, and not without an understated wit. A gem is a reference to 'cuddle-me-Jesus' songs, as Rowland terms much modern church music. Also included in the appendices are the texts of two important addresses by the Pope, the Subiaco address in which he speaks of the Catholic Church in Europe, and the Regensburg address which contains the now notorious reference to Islam and violence. Ratzinger's Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI is available now at Cork City Libraries.

Tim O’Mahony

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Collins Tracing your Irish Family History Tracing your Irish Family History
Anthony Adolph

RTE television’s series ‘Who do you think you are’ has enormously increased the number of people doing family history research in Ireland. Genealogy requires considerable patience to track down and sift through available sources. To the newcomer the number and variety of resources that need to be checked can seem daunting. Anthony Adolph’s Collins Tracing your Irish Family History is a very good and up-to-date guide to these sources, although a number have become available online since the book was published. In spite of this, this book gives clear and concise advice on how to track down and use parish registers, birth, marriage and death records and census returns to the more unfamiliar Griffith’s Valuation, army records and the bewildering, to the tyro genealogist, variety of wills available, or in many cases unavailable due to the disastrous fire in the Four Courts in 1922. The researcher will be hard pressed to find a livelier and more reliable guide than Collins Tracing your Irish Family History.Collins Tracing your Irish Family History is available at the Local Studies Department of Cork City Libraries.

Kieran Burke

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