Ireland during the Second World War

Farewell to Plato’s Cave

Author: Bryce Evans

In the first book detailing the social and economic history of Ireland during the Second World War, Dr Bryce Evans reveals the hidden story of the Irish Emergency. If the diplomatic history of Irish neutrality is familiar, the realities of everyday life are much less so. This work provides a clear summary of Ireland’s economic survival at the time as well as an indispensable overview of every published work on Ireland during the Second World War. While useful as a textbook introducing writing about the period, the book contributes a new and enlightening take on popular material and spiritual existence as global conflict impacted the country. It compares economic and social conditions in Ireland to those of the other European neutral states: Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Portugal. It explores how the government coped with the crisis and how ordinary Irish people reacted to emergency state control of the marketplace. With their government wounded by British economic warfare, the Irish people engaged in the black market, cross-border smuggling, and popular resistance. Exploring how notions of morality intersected with state-regulated production, consumption and distribution, this study reveals a colourful history detailing exploitation, deprivation, deviance and intolerance amidst the state’s shaky survival. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, this book provides a slice of real life during a pivotal episode in Irish and world history. It will be essential reading to the informed general reader, students, and academics alike.

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‘Ireland during the Second World War: Farewell to Plato's Cave is a rewarding if at times demanding read. It provides a valuable insight into Irish society and demonstrates that Ireland was not just the postcolonial backwater of popular memory until the boom of the 1950s. We can hope that Evans's revisionist interpretation of the Irish home front during the Emergency will lead to revisionist interpretations of other elements of Irish history during the Emergency and beyond.'
Augustine Meaher, Air University
H-War
April 2017

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