It is difficult to top a book on Michael Collins composed primarily of his own words. After all, what better way to peek into his brilliant mind than by reading his words? This book was indeed published to coincide with the release of Neil Jordan's film in 1996, ostensibly to give curious moviegoers a way to better understand Collins before or after viewing the biopic. Tim Pat Coogan's foreword to the book is excellent and shows him in his usual top form. The book's chapters are "Advance and Use Our Liberties," "Alternative to the Treaty," "The Proof of Success," "Four Historic Years," "Collapse of the Terror," "Partition Act's Failure," "Why Britain Sought Irish Peace," "Distinctive Culture," "Building up Ireland," and "Freedom within Grasp." This book sheds light on how articulate, well read, historically aware and insightful Collins actually was. It is too often thought that Collins was a country bumpkin whose knowledge of anything beyond 'murder and mayhem' was quite limited. This simply isn't the case and it becomes apparent almost immediately into the book that Collins was a more than capable thinker. Collins discusses Ireland's tumultuous history, the accomplishments of the Easter Rising, the political events of 1914-1918, the many aspects of British rule, the potential resources of Ireland, and the work of Sinn Féin.
If you are looking for a traditional biography on Collins, this is probably not the right selection for you. _Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland_, the book Tim Pat Coogan excerpted his foreword from, would be a much better fit for that need. If you are already basically familiar with the life and times of Collins, this book will give you a much richer sense of how his mind worked.