who would like to read books by and on Connolly will
discover that a huge amount of material has been published.
This is intended to be a "reading guide",
to help readers find the right book among the most
is most unfortunate that no complete works of James
Connolly exist. Apart from individual works such as
Labour in Irish History or Labour, Nationality
and Religion and The Reconquest of Ireland,
the majority of Connolly's writings consisted of articles
published in obscure journals. Over the years, anthologies
(often thematically organised) of his articles were
published. James Connolly's Collected Works
in two volumes (Dublin: New Books, 1988) contain the
best known writings of Connolly. Connolly's Selected
Writings edited by P. Berresford Ellis (Harmondsworth:
Penguin 1973 - and republished by Pluto Press in 1997)
is probably the best anthology of Connolly's writings.
It is representative of Connolly's thought and has
a clear introduction by the editor. Connolly's
Selected Political Writings edited by Owen Dudley
Edwards and Bernard Ransom (London: Jonathan Cape,
1971) is far too selective as Connolly's writings
on nationalism and socialism (Connolly's main contribution!)
tend to be left out by the editors. Connolly's
Lost Writings (London: Pluto Press, 1997) edited
by Andrias O Cathasaigh hadn't really been "lost":
they consist of the original version of some of Connolly's
articles, not as they were later edited. There are
also more thematic collections issued in a pamphlet
form, such as those published by Jim Lane's Cork Workers'
Club; like Connolly's writings on partition Ireland
upon the Dissecting Table (Cork: Cork Workers'
Club, 1975) and The Connolly-Walker Controversy
(Cork: Cork Workers' Club) or Connolly's writings
on syndicalism. Athol Books in Belfast have published
interesting pamphlets on more unusual aspects of Connolly's
writings ignored by most commentators like Connolly:
the Polish Aspect or Connolly Cut Outs.
books, pamphlets and articles have been written on
Connolly, however little of interest had been written
before 1961. Bizarrely, the most extensive study has
been written not in English, but in German: Helga
Woggon Integrativer Sozialismus und nationale Befreiung:
Politik und Wirkungsgeschichte James Connollys in
Irland (Goettingen: GHIL Publications). Out of
the literature on James Connolly, three books stand
out by their importance and quality. The best and
most important book ever to have been written on Connolly
remains C. Desmond Greaves The Life and Times of
James Connolly (London: Lawrence and Wishart,
1961). It could be compared to Isaac Deutscher's biography
of Trotsky, although Greaves lacks Deutscher's majestic
literary style. It is outstanding both in the narrative
of Connolly's life and times, and in the analysis
of his thought. If you have to read one single book
on Connolly, this is the one.
second book of great importance is C and AB Reeve's
James Connolly in the United States: The Road to
the 1916 Irish Rebellion (New Jersey: Humanities
Press, 1978). This book is to be recommended for its
very perceptive understanding of Connolly's position
and for its use of new material on Connolly's period
in the USA. And the authors successfully link up the
Irish and the American periods of Connolly's life.
recently, W.K. Anderson's James Connolly and the
Irish Left (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1995)
shows a sophisticated understanding of Connolly's
teachings, and how the Irish left later betrayed them.
The book shows impressive knowledge of the subject
and significant new research. This is a splendid book.
from those three, other books are also of interest.
James Connolly's daughter, Nora Connolly-O'Brien wrote
A Portrait of a Rebel Father (Dublin: Talbot
Press, 1935) which portrays the domestic and private
aspects of Connolly's life. Bernard Ransom's Connolly's
Marxism (London: Pluto Press, 1980) is a well
written but difficult book than examines the underlying
philosophical problematic of Connolly's thought. Prior
knowledge of both Connolly and Marxism are necessary
to appreciate that book. Roger Faligot's James
Connolly et le mouvement revolutionnaire irlandais
(Paris: Francois Maspero, 1978) is the only book on
Connolly to have been written from a point of view
explicitly sympathetic to the IRSP. It is dedicated
to the memory of Seamus Costello and has a foreword
by Nora Connolly O'Brien. It is a very good book;
but unfortunately it hasn't been translated in English.
Priscilla Metscher's Republicanism and Socialism
in Ireland (New York: Peter Lang, 1986) is an
excellent work that shows a complete understanding
and defence of Connolly's politics. Finally, a book
on Connolly written in Irish by Aindrias O Cathasaigh
is worthwhile reading for those who know the language.
books have been written on Connolly from perspectives
that range from fairly critical to explicit hostility.
Kieran Allen's The Politics of James Connolly
(London: Pluto Press, 1990) is a readable book, summing
up well the subject and containing useful criticisms,
but suffers from being written from the narrow perspective
of the Cliffite International Socialist tendency.
Andy Johnson, J. Larraghy and E. McWilliams Connolly:
A Marxist Analysis (Dublin: Irish Workers Group,
1990) is a dogmatic and a pedantic critique of Connolly
that has all the defaults but none of the qualities
of Allen's book. Austen Morgan's James Connolly:
A Political Biography (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 1988) is probably the most hostile
book on Connolly that has yet been published. The
author is an ex-Marxist once sympathetic to Irish
Republicanism, but is now an adviser to David Trimble.
The book is written from an explicit "revisionist"
point of view, and its main thesis is that Connolly
lived as a socialist but died as a nationalist. What
makes the book unreadable is not so much its central
thesis as the ridiculous assertions that run through
the text - for example Morgan tries to turn Connolly
into a "racist" and "eurocentric"
figure that would have been blind to Apartheid!
are also a number of more academic works on Connolly.
Owen Dudley Edwards' James Connolly: The Mind of
an Activist (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1968)
is written from the perspective of the historian but
does not add anything of interest to our understanding
of James Connolly as an activist or to his thought.
Ruth Dudley Edwards' James Connolly (Dublin:
Gill and Macmillan) simply sums up what others have
written on the topic, but given the reputation of
the author, it has to be said in her favour that she
is quite fair with her subject and hasn't done her
usual hatchet job on republicanism. Samuel Levenson's
James Connolly: Socialist, Patriot and Martyr
(London: Quartet, 1973) is a more interesting work,
because the author has had access to the O'Brien papers,
something Greaves didn't have. However, the book is
flawed by a tendency towards psychological reductionism
and has little understanding of Connolly's political
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