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Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA Paperback – Unabridged, 26 Apr 2012

23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Reprints edition (26 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447212495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447212492
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘an essential book … closely-reasoned, formidably intelligent and utterly compelling … required reading across the political spectrum … important and riveting’

Roy Foster, The Times

‘an outstanding new book on the IRA … a calm, rational but in the end devastating deconstruction of the IRA’

Henry McDonald, Observer

‘superb … the first full history of the IRA and the best overall account of the organization. English writes to the highest scholarly standards … Moreover, he writes with the common reader in mind: he has crafted a fine balance of detail and analysis and his prose is clear, fresh and jargon-free … sets a new standard for debate on republicanism’

Peter Hart, Irish Times

‘a work which eclipses all other studies of the IRA and must now be regarded as the single most important book on the topic … a penetrating and rewarding study’

Keith Jeffery, Times Literary Supplement

‘excellent book’ Patrick Bishop, Daily Telegraph

‘the best analytical history of the IRA yet written. Even those who grew up with the Troubles will find it a provocative and freshly compelling work. More importantly, perhaps, fifty years from now it will still be required reading – generations who look back and wonder what the Northern conflict was all about will find many of their answers here. Superb … the rigour and depth of English’s analysis is exceptional’

Niall Strange, Sunday Business Post

‘fluent, fascinating account of the origins, actions and ideologies of that caucus of shadows, the Provisional IRA … an enormous challenge of narrative, historical research and tact. In all these regards, English succeeds … his description of what he refers to as the “personal” consequences of republican violence is ultimately as heartbreaking as it is dispassionate’

Joseph O’Neill, Guardian

‘a great book. What impressed me most was the way Richard English managed to present such an historical and contradictory mess with such clarity and fairness. The book grabbed and held me like a very good novel’

Roddy Doyle, author of A Star Called Henry

‘This is a book whose time has come. At a historic moment when Irish republicanism is in the process of redefining itself, a highly-talented historian gives a compelling analysis of its past. The book’s genius lies in its non-judgemental approach, an approach which has induced many leading republicans to speak more frankly to Richard English than they have done to any previous historian. This mixture of skilful historical research and totally new personal statements from key republicans makes this a captivating, authoritative and highly readable book. It is masterly and hard-hitting and is likely to become something of a modern classic.’

Marianne Elliott, author of The Catholics of Ulster

‘an impressive achievement … Richard English’s study is the most probing and thorough analysis

About the Author

Richard English was born in Belfast in 1963. He is Professor of Politics at Queen's University, Belfast, and his previous books include Ernie O'Malley: IRA Intellectual (1998) and Radicals and the Republic: Socialist Republicanism in the Irish Free State 1925-1937 (1994). He lives in Belfast and Donegal.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By QWERTY11 on 11 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jack Fleetwood on 30 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By 10jflow on 23 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
"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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gilly dee on 4 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is by far the best book on this subject that I have ever read,it gives a true and honest history of I.R.A. politics and thinking.
It is totally non bias and does not support or condemn the armed struggle but rather lets you get inside the organisation and understand where they came from and where they would like to go into the future.
The book is very heavy in places as far as the political thinking of Irish republicans goes but you will never lose interest.
The most honest and educational book of Irish history to date.
I highly recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA is written as an objective overview of one of the most controversial armed groups in recent Irish/UK history, from inception through to contemporary splinter groups. Richard English achieves this through a clear and engaging narrative which is detailed and well researched, but not at the cost of pace or intrigue in the story itself.

If you are looking for a well balanced, well written account of the IRA you should most definitely read this book.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mr M Ventress on 26 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
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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