Judging Dev: A Reassessment of the Life and Legacy of Eamon de Valera

Judging Dev: A Reassessment of the Life and Legacy of Eamon de Valera


By (author) Diarmaid Ferriter


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  • Publisher: Royal Irish Academy
  • Format: Hardback | 396 pages
  • Dimensions: 176mm x 244mm x 42mm | 1,361g
  • Publication date: 15 October 2007
  • Publication City/Country: Dublin
  • ISBN 10: 1904890288
  • ISBN 13: 9781904890287
  • Illustrations note: colour illustrations, black & white illustrations, Illustrations (some col.), ports., facsims.
  • Sales rank: 260,221

Product description

Eamon de Valera is the most controversial figure in modern Irish history and as this book argues, the most misunderstood. 'Dev' has been characterised as a stern, un-bending, devious and divisive politician, in scholarship and in popular culture. Here, Diarmaid Ferriter investigates the far more complex personal and public identities of the revolutionary fighter, Fianna Fail party founder, taoiseach (prime minister) and president who reimagined the state both literally, in its first constitution, and figuratively, offering a much mocked vision of Ireland as a pre-industrial, pastoral island. Ferriter presents an in-depth analysis of De Valera using previously unpublished letters, government documents and photographs to chronicle his long and remarkable career. One such letter contradicts the conventional wisdom that de Valera escaped execution in 1916 because of his American citizenship, offering the leader's personal account of events. Engagingly written and tactile to hold, Judging Dev won four prestigious Irish book awards and awakened a national conversation through a parallel RTE radio series and RIA exhibition. When an Irish taoiseach launched this book in 2007 it was fittingly said it would be 'equally invaluable in classroom, in college and in the home'.

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Author information

DIARMAID FERRITER is one of Ireland's leading historians, and author of the acclaimed The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000. As a broadcaster, he established a listenership of 177,000 people for his Sunday morning show 'What if?'. Ferriter is a Senior Lecturer in Irish history at St Patrick's College, Dublin City University, and lives in Dublin with his wife, Sheila, and two daughters.

Review quote

"The Sunday Business Post 14/10/2007 Reviewed by Emmanuel Kehoe "Ferriter's thoughtful and timely new work is unique in that it reproduces in wonderful detail large numbers of original documents...sight of original documents is usually denied to the hobby historian and the quality of the reproduction, complete with all the originals, errors and corrections, is so good one can almost feel the bite of the typewriter on the paper and smell the dried ink." The Sunday Tribune 14/10/2007 Reviewed by Kevin Rafter "Judging Dev is a resounding success for both the author and his publisher, the Royal Irish Academy. The book is wonderfully produced with its text inter-spread by photographs and illustrations, many of which will be new to even the strongest readers of Irish history." The Sunday Independent 21/10/2007 Reviewed by John A Murphy "The book's great and original source is the deValera archive in UCD, which was not freely available to earlier scholars. Is supplies the marvellously illustrated material at the heart of this publication - longhand and typewritten letters and documents which give a striking sense of historical immediacy, and beautifully reproduced photographs never seen before, freshly touching on every phase of Dev's career and concisely contexted by the author. All this stuff alone is worth much more than the (very reasonable) publication price of Euro 30. The photos and documents take up approximately 250 out of the book's 370 pages so that the text is relatively brief. It is a sustained analytical essay on de Valera's career, richly drawling from the UCD archive but also taking into account the judgements of past and present de Valera scholars and commentators. Overall Ferriter's assessments are superbly fresh, independent and sophisticated."

Table of contents

I: 'Stop making love outside Aras an Uachtarain'; II: 'Decidedly a "personality"'; III: 'I would have gone and said, "Go to the devil, I will not sign".'; IV: 'Appearing on platforms at twilight illuminated by blazing sods of turf '; V: 'Our international position will let the world and the people at home knowthat we are independent.'; VI: 'An affair of hasty improvisations, a matter of fits and starts.'; VII: 'The policy of patience has failed and is over'; VIII: 'Too trained in English democracy to sit down under a dictatorship'; IX: 'A definite Liberalism is always present.'; X: 'A fascist and slave conception of woman'; XI: 'Is it smugness or insurgency that makes them say "Emergency"?'; XII: 'One man shouldn't have a vision like that for all the people'; XIII: 'I regret the modern overwhelming invasion of science'; XIV: 'I have had all the things that in a human way make for happiness.'; XV: 'Tough as teak'; XVI: 'One of the last of the great Victorians'?