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The partition of Ireland in 1921, and the birth of Northern Ireland as a political entity, was the work of one man above all. Edward Carson, born in Dublin in 1854, was a brilliant lawyer whose cross-questioning of Oscar Wilde at his libel trial brought about Wilde's downfall.
An inspiring orator and a political heavyweight at Westminster, his defence of Unionism in the years before the First World War, and of the rights of Ulster not to be swamped in an independent Ireland, made a united Ireland a political impossibility. While some of his actions were denounced in England as close to treason, Carson's idealism and religious tolerance were untypical of the sectarian bigotry that marred the later history of Northern Ireland. Carson: The Man Who Divided Ireland is the first modern biography of a major figure in both British and Irish politics.