I’ve felt really proud and humbled by the opinions of others who have read my books about Tom Crean and I’m grateful for every book review no matter whether it’s a one-liner or more.
As the author of a book about a historical figure, a book review from authors and historians who undertook meticulous research to write up their own titles, is of the greatest value. I want to share this great feedback about my book from author and historian John Cole, who is also a trustee of Menai Heritage and an expert on the bridges, the great Thomas Telford built, that provide a gateway to the beautiful Isle of Anglesey in Wales.
Thank you John.
John’s Book Review of Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero
“There is an increasing interest and awareness lately of the tenacity, bravery and sheer cussedness of those who embarked on polar expeditions with several TV series highlighting the heroism and endurance of the participants.Yours is an outstanding contribution which deserves a far wider audience.
The design and presentation of the book is a pleasure in itself. Egle Gostautate’s illustrations are amazing and the layout contributes massively to the readability and pacing of the volume. I particularly liked the sidebars which imparted fresh information without distracting to the pacing of the book.
As a professional writer, you have also paced Crean’s story perfectly. Immaculate research and enthusiasm for your subject makes for a riveting read.
And you have made the characters live! Crean with his inexhaustible wit, optimism and massive determination leaps off the page.
You capture the desperate conditions and nightmarish surroundings so well…’The crew faced the near certainty that their time on earth was up…Their inadequate, torn clothing, soaked in freezing salt water, permanently shrouded their bodies’. And then the banter between Shackleton and the irrepressible Crean; I’m there!
The astonishing rescue of Edward Evans must go down as one of the most heroic feats of endurance and your portrayal is grim, vivid and utterly enthralling. The statistics are virtually unbelievable and the image of that gentle giant hauling himself across the ice by sheer willpower is one that lingers in the imagination.
As to the question posed in the book, ‘What would have happened had Tom Crean been one of the party chosen to go the South Pole with Captain Scott?’, that must surely go down as one of the great unknowns, a literal cliff-hanger.
You also bring to life Crean the idealist, the family man and the proud Irishman he so clearly was and I think what your portrayal does so vividly is capture the honesty and integrity of the man. I always like historian E P Thompson’s introduction to his Making of the English Working Class where he says he is ‘trying to rescue working people from the condescension of posterity.’ I think much the same could be said for your ‘rescue’ of Tom Crean.
Finally, your work has that amazing sense of place which derives from Crean’s County Kerry roots. Kerry should be as proud of Crean as he was of Kerry!
Your analytical tribute in the appendices to Shackleton and his fellow explorers is also well judged and the supporting newspaper extracts add to the overall scholarship. It is all the more remarkable that the volume is so readable and accessible.
I can only thank you for the opportunity to meet Tom Crean. I can honestly say that this one of the best written, researched and presented small press publications I have read and, as I said before, both the book and the story deserve a far wider audience.”
Discover Tom Crean’s Story Revealed As Never Before
To learn more about this incredible man I’ve written a fully-referenced account that in March 2021 gave rise to substantial revisions to Crean’s story in the Dictionary of Irish Biography.
The book addresses a number of inaccuracies previously written about him and it reveals his incredible life with events and new stories that have never before been published.
All formats of the third edition of the biography ‘Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero’, including a hardcover version and an audiobook, are available via all major online retailers
For children, aged 6-10 years-old, it was important for me to chronicle Tom Crean’s story for the younger generation. The book ‘Tom The Mighty Explorer’, is based on the research I undertook for the grown-ups biography. Like the adult version, it’s generating excellent reviews from those who’ve read the print version or who have listened to the audiobook. Available via all major online booksellers, you can discover more about where to order the books here.