Home/Dublin Festival of History 2020

The Dublin Festival of History is an annual free Festival, brought to you by Dublin City Council, and organised by Dublin City Libraries. The Festival has gained a reputation for attracting bestselling Irish and international historians to Dublin for a high-profile weekend of history talks and debate in the late Autumn. Due to COVID-19 the 2020 Dublin Festival of History is mostly digital but there is, as always, a great programme of history events. All events are free, but some need to be booked – see www.dublinfestivalofhistory.ie for more information and tickets. We’re sorry we won’t see you for our usual weekend of history bookselling in Dublin Castle this year but we’re delighted to work with the festival to provide you with books by their keynote speakers. And remember that there’s no postage to pay in Ireland if you spend over €30 or if you choose to collect your books from either of our bookshops. Just choose the ‘Free Shipping’ or ‘Click & Collect’ options at checkout!

  • As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadesfuhrer Otto Freiherr von Wachter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed, including the family of the author's grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for 'mass murder'. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the Poles and the British, as well as groups of Jews, Wachter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps before making his way to Rome and being taken in by a Vatican bishop. He remained there for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the 'ratline' he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after having lunch with an 'old comrade' whom he suspected of having been recruited by the Americans. In THE RATLINE Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a Nazi fugitive, the love between Wachter and his wife Charlotte, who continued to write regularly to each other while he was on the run, and a fascinating insight into life in Rome and among American and Soviet spies active at the start of the Cold War. Using modern medical expertise, the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wachter's youngest child, who believes his father was a good man - what was Wachter doing while in hiding, and what exactly caused his death? Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Sunday 4th October 7pm. Watch Philippe Sands in conversation with Robert Gerwarth. Booking required HERE. ISBN 9781474608138
  • Why the moon travels by Oein DeBharduin is a collection of haunting folktales, a retelling of stories from the Traveller oral tradition in lyrical prose and beautifully illustrated by artist Leanne McDonagh. The book will be the first of its kind published in Ireland that captures several aspects of the rich Traveller culture, expression and intricate understandings. Published 9th September 2020 - Pre-order Now. ISBN 9781916493506
  • The 1918-19 influenza epidemic killed more than 50 million people, and infected between one fifth and half of the world's population. It is the world's greatest killing influenza pandemic, and is used as a worst case scenario for emerging infectious disease epidemics like the corona virus COVID-19. It decimated families, silenced cities and towns as it passed through, stilled commerce, closed schools and public buildings and put normal life on hold. Sometimes it killed several members of the same family. Like COVID-19 there was no preventative vaccine for the virus, and many died from secondary bacterial pneumonia in this pre-antibiotic era. In this work, Ida Milne tells how it impacted on Ireland, during a time of war and revolution. But the stories she tells of the harrowing impact on families, and of medicine's desperate search to heal the ill, could apply to any other place in the world at the time. Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Wednesday 23rd September 7pm. Watch INFLUENZA, WAR AND REVOLUTION IN IRELAND 1918–19 - Ida Milne in conversation with Sarah-Anne Buckley. Booking required HERE. ISBN 9781526122698
  • After her grandmother died, Hadley Freeman travelled to her apartment to try and make sense of a woman she'd never really known. Sala Glass was a European expat in America - defiantly clinging to her French influences, famously reserved, fashionable to the end - yet to Hadley much of her life remained a mystery. Sala's experience of surviving one of the most tumultuous periods in modern history was never spoken about. When Hadley found a shoebox filled with her grandmother's treasured belongings, it started a decade-long quest to find out their haunting significance and to dig deep into the extraordinary lives of Sala and her three brothers. The search takes Hadley from Picasso's archives in Paris to a secret room in a farmhouse in Auvergne to Long Island and to Auschwitz. By piecing together letters, photos and an unpublished memoir, Hadley brings to life the full story of the Glass siblings for the first time: Alex's past as a fashion couturier and friend of Dior and Chagall; trusting and brave Jacques, a fierce patriot for his adopted country; and the brilliant Henri who hid in occupied France - each of them made extraordinary bids for survival during the Second World War. And alongside her great-uncles' extraordinary acts of courage in Vichy France, Hadley discovers her grandmother's equally heroic but more private form of female self-sacrifice. A moving memoir following the Glass siblings throughout the course of the twentieth-century as they each make their own bid for survival, House of Glass explores assimilation, identity and home - issues that are deeply relevant today. Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Friday 25th September 7pm. Watch Hadley Freeman in conversation with Sarah Carey. Booking required HERE. ISBN 9780008322632
  • Celebrity, with its neon glow and selfie pout, strikes us as hypermodern. But the famous and infamous have been thrilling, titillating, and outraging us for much longer than we might realise. Whether it was the scandalous Lord Byron, whose poetry sent female fans into an erotic frenzy; or the cheetah-owning, coffin-sleeping, one-legged French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who launched a violent feud with her former best friend; or Edmund Kean, the dazzling Shakespearean actor whose monstrous ego and terrible alcoholism saw him nearly murdered by his own audience - the list of stars whose careers burned bright before the Age of Television is extensive and thrillingly varied. In this ambitious history, that spans the Bronze Age to the coming of Hollywood's Golden Age, Greg Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity's historical roots. He reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight. DEAD FAMOUS is a surprising, funny, and fascinating exploration of both a bygone age and how we came to inhabit our modern, fame obsessed society. Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Thursday 1st October 7pm. Watch Greg Jenner in conversation with Anna Carey. Booking required HERE. ISBN 9780297869801
  • The brand new Second World War thriller by Robert Harris... The first rocket will take five minutes to hit London. You have six minutes to stop the second. Rudi Graf has dreamt since childhood of sending a rocket to the moon. Instead, along with his friend Werner von Braun, he has helped create the world's most sophisticated weapon - the V2 ballistic missile, capable of delivering a one-ton warhead that travels at three times the speed of sound. In a desperate gamble to avoid defeat, Hitler orders 10,000 to be built. Now, in the winter of 1944, Graf finds himself in a bleak seaside town in Occupied Holland. Haunted and disillusioned, he's tasked with firing the V2s at London. Nobody understands the volatile, deadly machine better than he does. Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the WAAF. She has experienced at first-hand the horror of a V2 strike. As the rockets rain down, she joins a unit of WAAFs on a mission to newly-liberated Belgium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, the hope is that Kay and her colleagues can locate and destroy the launch sites. But at this stage in the war it's hard to know who, if anyone, you can trust. For every action on one side, there is an equal and opposite reaction on the other. As the death toll soars, the separate stories of Graf and Kay ricochet off one another, until in a final explosion of violence their destinies are forced together. Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Sunday 27th September 7pm. Watch Robert Harris in conversation with Edel Coffey. Booking required HERE. Published 17th September 2020 - Pre-order Now. ISBN 9781786331410
  • Michael Collins knew the power of his persona, and capitalised on what people wanted to believe. The image we have of him comes filtered through a sensational lens, exaggerated out of all proportion. We see what we have come to expect: ‘the man who won the war’, the centre of a web of intelligence that ‘brought the British Empire to its knees’. He comes to us as a mixture of truth and lies, propaganda and misunderstanding. The willingness to see him as the sum of the Irish revolution, and in turn reduce him to a caricature of his many parts, clouds our view of both the man and the revolution. Drawing on archives in Ireland, Britain and the United States, the authors question our traditional assumptions about Collins. The eight thematic, highly illustrated chapters scrutinise different aspects of Collins’s life: his origins, work, war, politics, celebrity, beliefs, death and afterlives. Approaching him through the eyes of contemporaries and historians, friends and enemies, this provocative book reveals new insights, challenging what we think we know about him and, in turn, what we think we know about the Irish revolution. Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Tuesday 15th September 7pm. Watch Anne Dolan and William Murphy in conversation with Mark Duncan. Booking required HERE. ISBN 9781848892101
  • Friendships torn. Ideals betrayed. Alliances broken. In this, her most personal book, a great historian explains why so many of those who won the battles for democracy or have spent their lives proclaiming its values are now succumbing to liars, thugs and crooks. Analysis, reportage and memoir, Twilight of Democracy fearlessly tells the shameful story of a political generation gone bad. In the years just before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people from across the political spectrum in Europe and America celebrated a great achievement, felt a common purpose and, very often, forged personal friendships. Yet over the following decades the euphoria evaporated, the common purpose and centre ground gradually disappeared, extremism rose once more and eventually - as this book compellingly relates - the relationships soured too. Anne Applebaum traces this history in an unfamiliar way, looking at the trajectories of individuals caught up in the public events of the last three decades. When politics becomes polarized, which side do you back? If you are a journalist, an intellectual, a civic leader, how do you deal with the re-emergence of authoritarian or nationalist ideas in your country? When your leaders appropriate history, or pedal conspiracies, or eviscerate the media and the judiciary, do you go along with it? Twilight of Democracy is an essay that combines the personal and the political in an original way and brings a fresh understanding to the dynamics of public life in Europe and America, both now and in the recent past. Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Saturday 3rd October 7pm. Watch Anne Applebaum in conversation with Paschal Donohoe. Booking required HERE. ISBN 9780241419717
  • From award-winning historian Saul David, an action-packed and powerful new narrative of the Battle of Okinawa - the last great clash of the Second World War, and one that had profound consequences for the modern world. For eighty-three blood-soaked days, the fighting on the island of Okinawa plumbed depths of savagery as bad as anything seen on the Eastern Front. When it was over, almost a quarter of a million people had lost their lives, making it by far the bloodiest US battle of the Pacific. In Okinawa, the death toll included thousands of civilians lost to mass suicide, convinced by Japanese propaganda that they would otherwise be raped and murdered by the enemy. On the US side, David argues that the horror of the battle ultimately determined President Truman's choice to use atomic bombs in August 1945. It is a brutal, heart-rending story, and one David tells with masterly attention to detail: the cramped cockpit of a kamikaze plane, the claustrophobic gun turret of a warship under attack, and a half-submerged foxhole amidst the squalor and battle detritus. The narrative follows generals, presidents and emperors, as well as the humbler experiences of ordinary servicemen and families on both sides, and the Okinawan civilians who were caught so tragically between the warring parties. Using graphic eyewitness accounts and declassified documents from archives in three continents, Saul David illuminates a shocking chapter of history that is too often missing from Western-centric narratives of the Second World War. Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Saturday 26th September 7pm. Watch Saul David in conversation with Roger Moorhouse. Booking required HERE. ISBN9780008342524
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    1691 : The decisive year of the war in Ireland is about to get underway. The armies of the English King James and his Dutch usurper King William are on the move again, resuming where they left off for the winter. The Jacobites have been pushed westwards beyond the River Shannon following their defeat at the battle of the Boyne the previous year. But they’re far from beaten. Through the personalities of two opposing generals, the Irish Patrick Sarsfield and the Scottish Hugh Mackay, 1691 brings to life the coming sieges and battles that shaped the future of Ireland for centuries to come. The friendships and feuds, conspiracies and alliances, strategies and tactics are explored in a readable fictional account that’s true to the historical record. This title is available to purchase directly from the author's website - www.joejoyce.ie Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Monday 21st September 7pm. Watch 1691: A NOVEL With author Joe Joyce. Booking required HERE. ISBN 9781916295117
  • The Polish campaign is the forgotten story of the Second World War. The war began on 1 September 1939, when German tanks, trucks and infantry crossed the Polish border, and the Luftwaffe began bombing Poland's towns and cities. The Polish army fought bravely but could not withstand the concentrated attack. When the Red Army invaded from the east, the country's fate was sealed. This is the first history of the Polish war for almost half a century. Drawing on letters, memoirs and diaries from all sides, Roger Moorhouse's dramatic account of the military events is entwined with a human story of courage and suffering, and a dark tale of diplomatic betrayal. 'Deeply researched, very well-written... This book will be the standard work on the subject for many years to come' Andrew Roberts. 'Moorhouse has a wonderful knack for reminding us about the parts of the Second World War that we are in danger of forgetting' Dan Snow. Dublin Festival of History 2020 Event - Thursday 17th September 7pm. Watch Roger Moorhouse in conversation with Saul David. Booking required HERE. ISBN 9781784706241
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