Mary Kenny

The Troubles of the Emerald Isle

That Neutral Island: A Cultural History of Ireland During the Second World War

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Faber & Faber 502pp £25 order from our bookshop

Irish Free: The History of Nationalism in Ireland

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On the rare occasions when I am asked about my position on the present war in Iraq, I reply that I am agnostic. I do not know the answer. That is what research into cultural attitudes around the Second World War has taught me.

When I was researching the biography of William Joyce, Lord Haw-Haw, I encountered perhaps two dozen anti-war, peace – and appeasement – movements existing in Britain in the late 1930s. These ranged from frankly pro-Fascist organisations such as Joyce’s own National Socialists to left-wing and feminist organisations supported by Quakers and the Women’s Peace Pledge Union, not to mention varieties of communists opposed to all ‘imperialist wars’.

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