A brilliant work of historical true crime charting a pivotal event
in the l9th century, the Phoenix Park murders in Dublin, that
gripped the world and forever altered the course of Irish history,
from renowned journalist, former New Yorker London editor, and
Costa Biography Award finalist Julie Kavanagh. Ireland, 1879-1882.
After 700 years of British rule, the post-Famine generation of
Irish tenant farmers began to push back against the reigning feudal
system of landownership. The charismatic political leader, Charles
Stewart Parnell, headed up the Land League, a revolutionary
movement that promised to restore land and power to the people
through a series of protests, strikes, and boycotts. After what
became known as the Irish Land War had escalated into nationwide
anarchy, Parnell and two associates were incarcerated without trial
in Kilmainham Gaol. In April 1882, Parnell secretly forged the
Kilmainham Treaty, a pact in which he pledged to work
diplomatically with British Prime Minister William Gladstone for
peace and the eventual independence of Ireland from England. It was
a moment of real hope and a potential turning point in history, one
that Gladstone himself described as "golden." Yet it would be
shattered one sunlit evening, on May 6, l882, as Gladstone's
emissary, Lord Frederick Cavendish, who had arrived that day in
Dublin, and Thomas Burke, the undersecretary for Ireland, were
ambushed and stabbed to death while strolling through Phoenix Park
in Dublin. The murders were funded by American supporters of Irish
independence and carried out by the Invincibles, a militant faction
of republicans armed with specially made surgeon's blades. The
impact of the assassinations was so cataclysmic that it destroyed
the peace pact, almost brought down the government, and set in
motion repercussions that would last long into the twentieth
century. In a story that spans Donegal, Dublin, London, Paris, New
York, Cannes, and Cape Town, Julie Kavanagh traces the crucial
events that came before and after the murders. From Parnell's
passionate affair with an Irish MP's wife, Katharine "Kitty"
O'Shea, which eventually caused his downfall, to Queen Victoria's
prurient obsession with the assassinations; from the investigation
spearheaded by Superintendent John Mallon, the "Irish Sherlock
Holmes," who tirelessly tracked down each member of the
Invincibles, to the eventual betrayal and clandestine escape of
leading Invincible James Carey and his murder on the high seas; The
Irish Assassins brings us intimately into this fascinating story
that shaped Irish politics and engulfed an empire. This is an
unputdownable book from one of our most "compulsively readable"
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