Cover image for Big fellow, long fellow : a joint biography of Collins and de Valera
Big fellow, long fellow : a joint biography of Collins and de Valera
Dwyer, T. Ryle.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
371 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA965.C6 D97 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera were the two most charismatic leaders of the Irish revolution. This joint biography looks first at their very different upbringings and early careers. Both fought in the 1916 uprising, but their first encounter didn't come until Collins had been released from jail after the uprising while Valera was still inside. Vastly different in temperament and style, they were still yoked together. Ryle Dwyer mines the years 1917-1922 through the twists and turns of their careers. In the epilogue, he considers the legacy of Collins on de Valera's later political life.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Historian and journalist Dwyer has written separate books and monographs on de Valera and Collins; he is thus more than qualified to undertake a comparative study of these Irish rebels whose common cause--and different styles and convictions--established patterns that "cast a shadow over Irish politics not just for decades, but arguably for most of the century." Dwyer opens with parallel discussions of their childhoods and education, then follows the struggle for Irish independence from the Easter 1916 rebellion to the death of Collins in a civil war ambush in August 1922; a final chapter summarizes de Valera's long post^-civil war career and the strengths and weaknesses of each man's efforts to achieve Irish freedom. In Irish-American folklore (and occasional Hollywood films), the conflict between de Valera and Collins tends to be oversimplified; Dwyer succeeds here in outlining the complexities of their relationship over time. Appropriate where interest in the details of twentieth-century Irish history is strong. --Mary Carroll

Library Journal Review

Dwyer (De Valera: Man and the Myths, Dufour Editions, 1992) adds this title to his lengthy publications list on 20th-century Irish history. Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera led opposing forces in the 1916 Irish Civil War. Dual biographies like this one work well when the subjects have great distances between them (e.g., Stephen Ambrose's Crazy Horse & Custer, Doubleday, 1996), but there is relatively little ground between de Valera and Collins. Both were rebel leaders, both fought for an Irish Republic. Their differences are real but not enough to support this approach. Much has been written on this era and these subjects, and Dwyer seems to be resifting the same known facts. His invective at de Valera is perhaps presented more forcefully here than elsewhere. Though well written, the book breaks virtually no new ground. For exhaustive Irish history collections only.ÄRobert C. Moore, Raytheon, Sudbury, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.