Julie Kavanagh The Irish Assassins


Code 9781611854510
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On a sunlit evening in l882, Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Burke, Chief Secretary and Undersecretary for Ireland, were ambushed and stabbed to death while strolling through Phoenix Park in Dublin. The murders were carried out by the Invincibles, a militant faction of republicans armed with specially-made surgeon's blades.

They ended what should have been a turning point in Anglo-Irish relations. A new spirit of goodwill had been burgeoning between Prime Minister William Gladstone and Ireland's leader Charles Stewart Parnell, with both men forging in secret a pact to achieve peace and independence in Ireland - with the newly appointed Cavendish, Gladstone's protege, to play an instrumental role.

The impact of the Phoenix Park murders was so cataclysmic that it destroyed the 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 thrillingly traces the crucial events that came before and after the murders. From the adulterous affair that caused Parnell's downfall, to Queen Victoria's prurient obsession with the assassinations, and the investigation spearheaded by the 'Irish Sherlock Holmes', culminating in a murder on the high seas, The Irish Assassins brings us intimately into this fascinating story that shaped Irish politics and engulfed an empire.

About the Author

Julie Kavanagh is the author of Secret Muses: The Life of Frederick Ashton; Nureyev: The Life, which was shortlisted for a Costa Book Award, the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award and was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; and The Girl who Loved Camellias, winner of the 2015 Premio Comisso. Kavanagh has held positions as the London editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. She divides her time between London, North Wales and Puglia.

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'[A] page-turning history...This entertaining and richly detailed chronicle offers fresh insights into a conflict whose repercussions are still felt today.'
- Publishers Weekly

'Julie Kavanagh has taken a violent and sensational event, the assassination of two senior government official in Dublin in 1882, and placed it in a richly contextualised and many-layered historical setting. Using a wide range of sources and opening up new avenues of enquiry, she vividly demonstrates the convulsive reverberations of one violent act, tracing the shockwaves it sent into political salons at Westminster, cabins in County Donegal, court circles at Windsor, revolutionary cabals in Paris, the Irish leader Parnell's secret life in a London suburb, and the complex world of the transatlantic Irish diaspora. Consummately well-written and full of novel insights, this is the best kind of historical detective story.'
- R.F. Foster, Emeritus Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford

'In The Irish Assassins, Julie Kavanagh has brilliantly succeeded in making a complex sequence of events irresistibly accessible, providing an engrossing narrative that is violent, tragic, sometimes funny, extremely astute and remarkably well written.'
- Selina Hastings


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