"Fatal Influence" challenges and revises many widely held assumptions about a pivotal moment in both British and Irish history and persuasively demonstrates that Ireland's impact on British politics lasted far longer and was far greater than has been realised. Kevin Matthews places the settlement of the Irish Question in the 1920s within the broader context of a revolution then taking place in British politics and shows how each affected the other. In a detailed investigation, he explores the Irish partition and the often conflicting motives that led to this momentous decision. Far from solving the Irish Question, dividing the country into two parts merely created what one politician at the time called its "elements of dynamite". These explosive elements were thrown into an already unstable political situation in Britain, with three political parties - Liberals, Conservatives, and Labour - all vying for a place in that nation's traditional two-party system. The book brings together some of the most colourful characters of 20th-century British and Irish history, from Winston Churchill and Michael Collins to David Lloyd George and Eamon de Valera.Looming behind is Sir James Craig, the rock-like embodiment of Ulster Unionism. But this story of "high politics" also involves men whose careers are not normally associated with the Irish conflict, figures such as Stanley Baldwin, Ramsay MacDonald, Neville Chamberlain and, even, Oswald Mosley and Anthony Eden.
Prime Minister for life
a treaty for Ireland
the Churchill dispensation
the legacy of Bonar Law
Mr Baldwin takes charge
Labour's "troublesome subject"
heading for Irish rocks
the boundary bill and its aftermath
"Not an inch!".
"A refreshingly different take on this crucial era with a finely detailed exploration of the Boundary Commission, the resulting partition and its immediate aftermath ... A major thesis by a Kentucky man, now a professor in Washington, who spent years as a journalist."
Books Ireland April 2004
"This is an excellent and well-written book which will engage the reader from page one. It is a fresh and original look at an unjustly neglected period in Irish and British history. It manages the unique achievement of addressing events in both countries in a balanced and interrelated way."
Books Ireland Summer 2004
"There is much to admire in this book: it is assiduously researched and gives marvellous insights into the private thoughts of some of the political giants of the era."
Irish Studies Review 13 (2) 2005
"Matthews has made an important and original contribution to our understanding of post-war British and Irish politics, demonstrating that they were intertwined to an extent not previously recognised."
English Historical Review CXX 486 April 2005
"Matthews' sensible, careful, densely researched account of the first half of the 1920s presents a more nuanced and richly textured account of the British attempt to come to terms with the uncertain implications of the Anglo-Irish Treaty than has previously been available."
American Historical Review Oct 2006
"provides students of both British and Irish history with a valuable and original analysis of the negotiation and implementation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Supported by impressive archival research..."
H-Net Book Review May 2006