Originally Posted by jonniebgood1
The ambush was on the auilliaries which I think is significant, as a distinct differenciation from the ordinary RIC or the Black and Tans. Given their reputation it is probably fair comment.
Harts challenge to the accepted view was positive in my view but his reluctance to be more open about his sources does not give much faith in these sources.
The reaction to Hart is also interesting. To me his views were revisionist (although obviously earlier than the 70's which most revisionist theories seem to address) and he was then widely criticised for them. Does this mean that revisionist views of this period are not accepted, if so why would this be? I would like if some of our resident historians could give their views on this?
There's nothing wrong with someone coming up with new information or a different view about historical events provided that information is from a reliable source. Harts methodology appears to have been that he came up with the narrative first and then moved or omitted the sources around to fit.
As you stated in the first paragraph above, the problem with Peter Hart's version of the Kilmichael ambush is that he claimed he interviewed the last survivor of the ambush (Ned Young) just before he died. (He even claimed at one stage to have interviewed him the day after he died). Ned Young's son John and others have pointed out that Ned Young was severley affected by a stroke at this time and had great difficulty speaking. John Young has sworn an affidavitt saying that Hart never interviewed his father.
In addition, he also used two anonymous sources. As pretty much everyone involved in the ambush had died at the time Hart was doing his research it seems very, very dubious.
Hart also used a typed, undated and unsigned doc he claimed to have found in the British Military Archive which gave the account of the ambush with prisoners being executed. He used this single source to trump every other known and verified account of the ambush.
I found his book on Michael Collins to be truly bizarre. It was very badly written (it read like an unedited early draft) and was full of inferences that could not be substantiated. As with the IRA and It's Enemies, it appeared that he came up with the notion of taking Collins down a peg or two and ignored anything that did not fit with this.
The use of the term Revisionism
has very negative connotations. There is nothing wrong with revising history if the evidence can back it up. Hart's wilder claims just don't have this. Without solid sources Hart's work should be considerd as the authors opinion and nothing More.