Written in 1972 in the wake of Bloody Sunday and direct rule, States of Ireland was Conor Cruise O'Brien's searching analysis of contemporary Irish nationalism: part-memoir, part-history, part-polemic.
'If The Great Melody (1992) is O'Brien's major academic work, States of Ireland is the one that will endure as a vital moment in Irish intellectual and political history.' Roy Foster, Standpoint
'States of Ireland [is] a book which influenced a generation. [O'Brien] saw that partition, while scarcely desirable in itself, recognized the reality of two different communities in the island, and that the Dublin state's formal irredentist claim on Northern Ireland was undemocratic and even imperialistic, as well as insincere. The republican ideology to which most Irish people paid lip service was a shirt of Nessus, he later wrote: "it clings to us and burns".' Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography