Seán Lemass

Democratic Dictator (Paperback)

By Bryce Evans
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Seán Lemass enjoys unrivalled acclaim as the 'Architect of Modern Ireland'. To many of today's politicians he is a role model. To the Fianna Fáil party he is an icon. Yet there remain great gaps in our knowledge of this mythic figure and his golden age. Up to now Lemass, a colossus of twentieth-century Irish history, was airbrushed to fit a narrative of national progress. Today, this narrative is undergoing an agonising reappraisal.

This groundbreaking study reveals the man behind the myth and asks questions previously skirted around: how did Lemass achieve such power within his party and the Irish State? How much did he owe to the 'martyr' status of his murdered older brother? Did he use his economic powers wisely? How deep did his relationship with bishops and businessmen run? How did Lemass view Ireland's writers, artists and women?

Bryce Evans uses previously unseen archival material to answer these questions. What emerges is the real Seán Lemass: an authoritarian, cunning, workaholic patriot; a shrewd political tactician whose impatience lay not just with the old Ireland, but with democracy itself, at a time when Franco, Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin were in power; whose achievements owe a debt of gratitude to more people than T. K. Whitaker.

This is the untold story of Ireland's Democratic Dictator, and his lasting impact on a nation's imagination.

Bibliographic Data

  • Book Format: Paperback
  • Published: 2011
  • Dimensions: 216 x 135 mm
  • Number of pages: 336
  • ISBN: 9781848891227
  • Illustrations note: B&W photos, Line drawings,

Editorial Reviews

"Refreshing […] Evans has successfully created a new impression of Lemass."

– Irish Economic and Social History

"A complex portrait of a man who was at once ruthless and pragmatic and left an indeliable imprint on Ireland, pushing his country towards progress and nudging his party towards those most set to benefit from such progress."

– Sunday Business Post

"a fresh and interesting look at Lemass"

– Books Ireland

"This is a highly infomative and entertaining read, written in a succint and often opinionated style. But it is also fair and catches the humanity of the restless Lemass, and his era, as well as paying homage to the many recent and more monumental treatments of his full life, although not averse to questioning their conclusions. "

– Sunday Independent

"Recommended by Irish Independent political journalist Jody Corcoran."

– Irish Independent

"The book uses previously unseen archival material to scrutinise its subject. What emerges is what Dr Evans claims is the real Sean Lemass – an authoritarian, cunning, and workaholic patriot and a shrewd political tactician whose impatience lay not just with the old Ireland, but with democracy itself."

– Irish Independent

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