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4.1 out of 5 stars27
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 11 August 2013
Any book written on Northern Ireland's recent conflict will be accused of bias, but any such accusation against this book is wholly unfounded.

This book takes you right through the IRA's history, from the early 20th right up to the early 21st century. The author, Richard English, is probably the world's foremost authority on the subject.

If you are looking for a book that will endlessly glorify or demonise the IRA, this is not for you. The author leaves the job of forming opinions on morality up to you whilst he dispenses facts in great storytelling rhetoric. I have seen lectures given by the author; on a personal level he is deeply opposed to the IRA, but you would not be able to tell that from this book. He remains a historian and spares you his opinion.

I had a fair knowledge of the IRA before reading this and I imagine someone completely unfamiliar with Northern Ireland's history might be a bit overwhelmed with the detail that the book goes into. Similarly, if you're only interested in "The Troubles" rather than all the history behind it you would do well to skip ahead a few chapters.

The author has sought out and interviewed many IRA members, giving him a knowledge of how the IRA was 'on the ground' that a lot of high level political books like this miss out. If you are from Ireland / Northern Ireland, this book will teach you a lot about the history that created the circumstance our country is currently in.
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on 30 January 2012
An outstanding analysis of one of the most clinical, ruthless and ultimately fascinating guerrilla organisations of the modern period.

The strength of this thesis is the fine, balanced approach which the author assumes throughout. It is neither a study blurred by romantic idealism or outright, irrational condemnation.

This is not necessarily a chronological narrative - although it does cover a vast array of historical sources - but rather an intimate study of the socio-political dimensions which have permeated the insurrectionist, Republican movement since its primitive, embryonic form at the beginning of the 20thC until its eventual absorption into the constitutional framework of democratic politics at the dawn of the 21st.
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on 23 August 2008
"Armed Struggle" is easily the most accurate, well written and balanced account of the IRA I've read. English's thorough scholorship and intelligent analysis is a welcome improvement from less rigorous, journalistic works on republicans. The narrative is clear, concise and accessible. English has produced a detailed and informative history of the IRA with thoughtful analysis. I was very suprised to find that another reviewer found it "biased", because I have read a large portion of the vast available literature on "the Troubles" and with this work English successfully avoids the partiality or sensationalism that characterises so much of the literature on this subject. This is an extremely valuable resource for anyone interested in the IRA, "the Troubles", or Irish nationalism and history in general.
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on 4 September 2010
An indepth study of this organisation.
factual and full of insight at a personal level.
Impressed with the authors ability to detach himself from taking sides and evaluating the facts as presented by the organisation.
Always worth remembering there are two sides to every story and this presents just one side.

history has a habit of repeating itself hope this time lessons can be learned in time!
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on 26 November 2005
Being half Irish,but not having lived in Ireland,Ihave for a long time had an intrest in Irish history. when I first saw this book I wasn't sure if it was for me. Having bought and read it, I'm very pleased I did.Richard English has produced what others have failed to do.The research and attention to detail is incredible.He has given a fair and balanced account of the 'troubles'from the 1916 Easter rising to the turn of the century.I found it quite heavy reading in places, having to absorb such an enormous of information,both social and political. Anyone intrested in Irish hitory should read it, as it fills a big gap and provides a lot of answers.
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on 15 February 2011
Having grown up in `the Troubles' and studied this period of Irish history at an academic level I would attest that this is one of the most accurately researched, balanced and comprehensive accounts of the Irish Republican Army which I have read to date. It should be studied by anyone with an interest in Irish politics. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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on 14 November 2009
I orginally bought this for my wife who is Australian as a start to understanding "the troubles" but after reading it myself i found it to be very unbaised read with a true look at the history of the IRA def worth a read for anyone from Ireland or just interested in the troubles and how we ended up with todays peace
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on 2 November 2015
My Dad left it in a hotel room in Ireland so not sure how it ended so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt with 5 stars.
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on 6 February 2014
At least-it does give a good historical account of the Irish desire to be free of British rule-after 8 centurues
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on 22 January 2016
Maybe not quite as good as the author would make out in his own preface perhaps, but well written nonetheless. I think I was more engaged with Tim Pat Coogan's work on the subject. Being consciously even-handed between Britain and republicanism creates a lot of additional "to be fair" and "on the other hand" expressions which can feel a bit verbose at times. Considering the state of Ulster in the 50s and 60s - a human rights joke - to try to blame the Troubles on the tactics of the civil rights movement perhaps suggests Mr English isn't as even-handed as he would like to think he is.
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