For Episode 10 of the Historical Belfast Podcast I’ve been chatting to Professor Richard Grayson, head of history at Goldsmiths University London.
Richard Grayson has many publications to his name, too many to list here certainly, but I will mention two in particular: Dublin’s Great Wars - The First World War, the Easter Rising and the Irish Revolution, published in 2018 and one that I know listeners of this podcast would enjoy. And secondly, Belfast Boys – How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War, published in 2009, it is a book that I have leaned heavily on over the years, it’s become almost like a bible in the sense that it’s the one book that I keep going back to in order to find solutions for my own research conundrums and it generally always comes up with the answers.
Belfast Boys fundamentally changed how I approach the writing of history. It led me into a world of history by numbers, an scientific approach to the craft which is underpinned by statistics. However, Richard has cleverly taken that scientific approach and weaved through it the individual and local stories which make it relatable for the reader.
The late Professor Keith Jeffery, my one-time supervisor at Queen’s described Belfast Boys as ‘An extremely important book. This work of humane scholarship deserves to become a classic’. For me, 12 years on from its publication, it is already a classic, and as relevant today as it was when it was first released.