The author of The Soong Sisters and China to Me turns her observant and discerning eye to the oft-troubled land of Ireland. In a magisterial combination of historical research and keen personal observation on the scene, Emily Hahn gives us a view of the whole of Ireland and its history, from the legends of the great kings and the heroes of myth to the Saint who converted Ireland to Christianity many centuries ago and up to the present day. She details the trials and tribulations of a conquered people as they rebel against their exploiters and fight and die for independence, eventually achieving their goal but only at the price of a bitter partition that haunts the country to this day. Hahn's breadth of vision and acute sense of the telling detail paints the big picture while also pinpointing the small-but-important moments. Perhaps the sub-title manages to encapsulate it all: Ireland, Its Legends, Its History, Its People from St. Patrick to Bernadette Devlin.
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A revolutionary woman for her time and an enormously creative writer, Emily Hahn broke all of the rules of the 1920s, including by traveling the country dressed as a boy, working for the Red Cross in Belgium, being the concubine to a Shanghai poet, using opium, and having a child out of wedlock. Hahn kept on fighting against the stereotype of female docility that characterized the Victorian era and was an advocate for the environment until her death at age ninety-two.Emily Hahn (1905–1997) was the author of fifty-two books, as well as one hundred eighty-one articles and short stories for the New Yorker from 1929 to 1996. She was a staff writer for the magazine for forty-seven years. She wrote novels, short stories, personal essays, reportage, poetry, history and biography, natural history and zoology, cookbooks, humor, travel, children’s books, and four autobiographical narratives: China to Me (1944), a literary exploration of her trip to China; Hong Kong Holiday (1946); England to Me (1949); and Kissing Cousins (1958). The fifth of six children, she was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and later became the first woman to earn a degree in mining engineering at the University of Wisconsin. She did graduate work at both Columbia and Oxford before leaving for Shanghai. She lived in China for eight years. Her wartime affair with Charles Boxer, Britain’s chief spy in pre–World War II Hong Kong, evolved into a loving and unconventional marriage that lasted fifty-two years and produced two daughters. Emily Hahn’s final published piece in the New Yorker appeared in 1996, shortly before her death.
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