Posted by TheYank at 10/26/2009 8:36 AM EDT

I guess I should wait to read the book, but right now I'm very skeptical of the claims coming from historian John Turi. According to today's Irish Independent, Turi is a retired retired US naval officer and historian John Turi from Princeton, NJ.

According to the article in the Independent Turi has a new book coming out in which he claims that Eamon De Valera was "England's Greatest Spy." I'm skeptical for a number of reasons.

First, it's not as if De Valera's life has not been the subject of in-depth historical study before. De Valera had a lot of detractors when he was alive and at least as many among historians since his death. There have been quite a few biographies of De Valera. I read two: one by Tim Pat Coogan and the other by Ryle Dwyer. I've also read many other books about Ireland during the period, 1900-1925 and Ireland during the Second World War. Not one of those books ever suggested that De Valera was a spy.

Coward? Yes. Trouble-maker? Yes. Fiend? Yes. I've come across each of those, but spy for England? Nope. Never.

Another reason I'm skeptical is that despite what Turi seems to say, I don't think De Valera had to trade something so crucial to remain alive at the time they were executing the '16 men. De Valera wasn't so high-ranking among the Easter Rising leaders that his execution was high on the list of priorities for the British. By the time it was De Valera's turn to face the firing squad pressure from within Ireland and from America was already on the British authorities to halt the executions. I suspect any good excuse to not execute De Valera would have done the British at that time.

And, lastly, Turi says Irish neutrality during WWII was "a hoax on the Irish people and a major boon for English interests." I can't see how keeping Ireland out of the war, while helping the allies with their effort is anything other than a good deal for Ireland. Hoax just seems such a strange claim.

Like I said, I'll have to read the book, but Turi had best have very strong evidence to back up his assertion and not just a lot of psycho mumbo jumbo. Right now the little snippets we have sound more like a marketing trick than real history.