Fintan O'Toole was born in 1958, and so his life covers Ireland's journey out of underdevelopment and domination by the Church and the country's transformation into the relatively prosperous and tolerant society that it is today. But along the way there was a sectarian civil war in the North, which cast a dark shadow over the whole island, and bitter struggles for intellectual, civil and sexual freedoms. The Church fought a long rearguard action to defend its entrenched positions in education, healthcare and childcare. The truth about child abuse and institutional cruelty emerged only slowly, and women still had to die to make possible the liberalisation of Irish laws on contraception and divorce.
This is a very personal history by a writer who is considered by many to be the country's leading public intellectual. He was a participant in many of the controversies and and arguments of the past 35 years, and knew the leading literary, musical and political figures of those decades.
'Good journalists like Fintan O'Toole are the ones to look to if you want your lifelines to the contemporary reopened or the jump leads to your ethical sense connected up' Seamus Heaney.
'A witty attack on the fantasies that drove Brexit ... Clever, over the top, but etertaining political writing' The Times Books of the Year, on Heroic Failure.
'Fintan O'Toole in Heroic Failure displays an amazing command of the facts, but what distinguishes his book is the quality of the mind at work, the sharpness of the analysis, the style' Colm Tóibín.
'I loved the book. It's hugely entertaining and engrossing, and great fun too. I loved the link to punk – fascinating ... It's a terrific book' Roddy Doyle, on Heroic Failure.
'A wildy entertaining but uncomfortable read ... He has nailed us to the floor with a nine-inch nail' Jonathan Coe, on Heroic Failure.