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February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

MEMOIR, MY LIFE AND THEMES

Conor Cruise O’Brien

Conor Cruise O’Brien opens his memoir by informing the reader that his earliest memory in life (he was 4 1/2 years old) was a series of booming noises. The noises were the opening rounds of the Irish Free State’s bombardment of the Four Courts in Dublin. The time was 4:07 a.m., June 28, 1922. Oh that we could be all so precise about our first memory in life. Being precise about things would be a Cruise O’Brien trait for the next eight decades. Sometimes, Cruise O’Brien would be precisely in opposition to things he had previously been precisely in favor of. But that has been the man and his life, a classic case of love him, hate him but don’t dare ignore him. Conor Cruise O’Brien, in whatever career guise is one of the very few Irishmen of the 20th century who has been a global commentator to which the global community has bent an ear. This memoir covers the globe as well as an 80-year life. It makes for an interesting read whether the writer is viewed as hero or villain. Published by Cooper Square Press. 460 pp. $30.

THE CREATURES OF CELTIC MYTH

Bob Curran

Illustrations by Andrew Whitson

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The number of books written about the ancients Celts is quite astonishing. And the hold that this ancient people has on the imagination of many in today’s world has only grown stronger with the revival in recent years of Celtic-style culture in all its manifestations. This elaborately illustrated work draws on Celtic mythology from Ireland to Brittany and all points in between in presenting 29 tales and the strange creatures that inhabit them. Sterling Publishing Co. 192 pp. $27.95.

HAIR OF THE DOG

Irish Drinking and its

American Stereotype

Richard Stivers

This is a "New Revised Edition," which only goes to show that stereotypes have a habit of sticking around. Witness recent comments by President Clinton about drunks in bars, etc. The Irish and drinking will be forever hitched whether the Irish like it or not. Much of the time, the drinking is indeed for the liking and sometimes it is anything but. But at the core of every stereotype is the assumption that there is but one mold into which a people fits. And the Irish have been stuffed into the drunken mold for just about as long as America has existed. Is this deserved. Not at all, argues Stivers and he uses statistics to demonstrate that the Irish don’t really drink that much compared to other nationalities. Published by Continuum. 240 pp. $19.95.

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