In May 1798, 100,000 peasants rose against the British government in Ireland. By the time the revolt had been put down four months later, 30,000 were dead. Yet it was not a schoolroom story of the heroic oppressed rising against the brutal oppressor, but the result of a complex, tragic, often absurd and sometimes heroic interplay between different groups of people. A tough and arrogant oligarchy of country gentlemen, mainly Protestant and mainly British in origin, lived off a Catholic peasantry. Meanwhile, idealistic merchants and hot-headed young lawyers dreamed and plotted for an Irish Republic on the French model. From a mass of sources including confidential government reports, newspapers, poems and letters, the author pieces together the story.
Thomas Pakenham is the author of several other books including THE BOER WAR and THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA, both published by Abacus. He lives in Co. Westmeath, Ireland.