This year has already seen a number of books that attempt to get behind the public face of the GAA and take a look at what the organisation means to people at grassroots level and the effect that the GAA has on people's lives. Anyone thinking of writing another should use Keith Duggan's offering as the definitive work on the subject.
Wonderfully written and fantastically absorbing from introduction to last page, Duggan really does get to the soul of the GAA, as well as painting the human picture behind some of the biggest figures the game has ever seen. The impact that GAA celebrity can have on the life of ordinary people and how they cope with the attention that generates; generations of families absorbed into the organisation; and the impact on the games of the few totally dedicated people, in this case the priests of St Jarleth's College in Tuam, are all explored in detail.
For anyone involved in, or with an interest in, Gaelic Games, the individuals interviewed are immediately identifiable, not only as the famous GAA folk that some are, but as people you can come across in any school or club around the country and beyond. This gives the book a personal touch for each reader, and along with fascinating tales of football, hurling and camogie exploits from Cloyne to Bundoran to the Bronx, makes for great entertainment.
For those who see the GAA as a monolith, resistant to change and full of characters mired in the 1950s, this book would be a revelation, showing the vibrant, personal and emotional side to the organisation and what it means to be involved in a movement that "lights the great summer and the games we don't forget".
A tremendous read.