Jim Ring, Erskine Childers (John Murray, 1996)
Erskine Childers was orphaned at an early age, received an English education that culminated in a clerkship to the House of Commons, voluntary service in the Boer War and the writing of his great novel. Until he married a strong-willed Bostonian and increasingly became interested in Irish affair, he appeared patriotic, imperialist and largely conformist. He still served England in the war, but, traumatised by the Easter Rising of 1916, finished the war profoundly divided in his loyalties. Childers ended up becoming the official propagandist for the Republican movement. He opposed the treaty that established the Irish Free State and joined the IRA before being captured and executed in November 1922.
Jim Ring’s acclaimed biography does full justice to Childers’ dramatic and intriguing story, against a backdrop of Britain’s imperial zenith, the naval arms race and the First World War. The Independent on Sunday described the work as “a fine and fluent biography of an extraordinary man, navigating the angry waters (of Irish politics) with a sure hand but dodging none of the difficulties.”