Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tan – A story of exile, betrayal and revenge by David Lawlor

Experience the essence of revenge

Tan is referred to the “Black and Tans” in Ireland. They consisted of soldiers who previously served and were brought into Ireland in 1919 by London’s government. Their job was to assist the RIC, the Royal Irish Constabulary.

The first Black and Tan soldiers arrived in Ireland in March 1920. They accepted the job offered because they were unemployed and unskilled (except to fight in a war). So the main reason was pure and simple; money. They severely lacked discipline and found pleasure in terrorizing local communities during Ireland’s War of Independence.

The story of exile:

The year is 1914; the place is Balbriggan, Ireland. A young man named Liam Mannion is accused of rape. He is beaten just shy of death by the ruthless RIC District Inspector Webber. In order to save his life, Liam’s father helps him escape and he ends up in England. He enlists and fights in the war for five hellish years. Today we call it PTSD; in 1919 Liam deals silently with the memories of trench warfare.

Liam needs to find work, so he takes a job in a cotton mill in Manchester. Not only is the job hell physically, mostly because of the five years spent at war ruining his lungs, but the Brits don’t like the Irish, so the prejudices were hell to put up with on a daily basis.

Since poor Liam could hardly breathe working in the mill, he quit. With no job and no food, he once again enlists, this time in the “Black and Tans.” Ironically, he is assigned a post in Balbriggan, Ireland, his home town which he fled in 1914.

The story of betrayal:

Liam is now a Black and Tan, and his hometown friends fight for the republican cause and his own brother for the British Armed Forces. Again, poor Liam has to deal with fighting on the unscrupulous Tan side while he wrestles with his feelings of loyalty to friends and family.

The story of revenge:

Remember the beating he took from Inspector Webber? Well, you must read Tan – A story of exile, betrayal and revenge, to experience the essence of revenge.

David Lawlor’s descriptions of violent combat battles are exceptionally compelling. However, he didn’t lose sight of the fact his book was a historical fiction.  Lawlor brilliantly introduces the family; Liam’s brother Eoin, who is jealous of Liam, and his father, Dan, who he loves and respects.

Other characters including friends and women are perfectly woven into the story. It’s a beautifully written novel in which to entertain and learn about this period of Irish history.

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