VINTAGE BOOK REVIEWS - INTRODUCTION
By Martin Griffin
The normal sequence of events in the world of letters consists of a writer, inspired or other wise, depositing his thoughts on a blank page, submitting the result to an editor or publishing house; and if the work is deemed worthy of the effort being sent to book vendors. While I have greatly oversimplified a more detailed creative process it is because it is only the end result that concerns me.
The new volume is then read by that group of frustrated authors otherwise known as critics, to determine whether it contains anything of merit to recommend it to the book reading public. The works I intend to peruse in this space have gone through those processes as long as three hundred years ago. What makes them worthy of altering the normal sequence of literary events is not necessarily their prose, although that at times is marvelously mellifluous and at others florid, it is the character and ideals of the authors, the continuing relevance of their subject and the men they depict.
The authors whose works I will study here are exclusively men. Chauvinism is the cause of this fact but the shortcoming is not my own but the times when these works were produced. The men themselves were the leaders, participants, witnesses and historians of the long running struggle of the people of Ireland to attain their freedom. What makes these books still relevant is that that end – Irish Freedom -- has still after more than eight hundred years not been fully achieved.
The past actions and philosophical views of these revolutionary men is what has brought about any success that has been achieved. Transcribing of dusty copies contained in university vaults to the Internet is making these important works available to more than the cognoscenti, or historians they are now available to anyone who cares about Irish freedom; and it is these very books that have been and are the means of transferring that tradition from one generation to the next.