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.