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A Long Long War: Voices from the British Army in Northern Ireland 1969-98 [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Ken Wharton
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Sep 2010
This is the story of the Troubles in Northern Ireland told from the perspective of the British soldiers who served there between 1969 and 1998. This was a war against terrorists who knew no mercy or compassion; a war involving sectarian hatred and violent death. Over 1,000 British lives were lost in a place just 30 minutes flying time away from the mainland. The British Army was sent into Northern Ireland on August 14, 1969 by the Wilson government as law and order had broken down and the population (mainly Catholics) and property were at grave risk. Between then and 1998 some 300,000 British troops served in Northern Ireland. This is their story - in their own words - from first to last. There are stories from some of the most seminal moments in the period of the Troubles in Northern Ireland - detailed accounts of firefights at Crossmaglen from the commanders on the ground at the time; an incredible story from a British Army sniper in Londonderry, 1973; an account from the first squaddie on the scene at Penny Lane after the 1988 funeral killings of the two corporals; the 1988 Ballygawley coach blast which killed 8 Light Infantrymen, with a first-hand account by one of the survivors; the case of the missing Christmas Club money in the Ardoyne; Gerry Adams' 'birthday treat' at a vehicle checkpoint, accounts by plain-clothes intelligence officers on the streets of Belfast … and many more. The brave men and women of the Ulster Defence Regiment, many of whom were murdered in their homes or at their places of work, occupy a prominent place in the book. The author has also conducted a great deal of original research to produce a roll of honour for all service personnel killed in Northern Ireland. A major contribution to research, the list differs to its 'official' MoD counterpart to a surprising degree. It includes more than 20 names before the first official casualty, Gunner Robert Curtis (1971) and more than 10 after the last official casualty, L/Bombardier Stephen Restorick (1997). Receiving a remarkable amount of cooperation from Northern Ireland veterans eager to tell their story, the author has compiled a vivid and unforgettable record. Their experiences - sad and poignant, fearful and violent, courageous in the face of adversity, even downright hilarious - make for compelling reading. Their voices need to be heard.

Frequently Bought Together

A Long Long War: Voices from the British Army in Northern Ireland 1969-98 + Bullets, Bombs and Cups Of Tea: Further Voices of the British Army in Northern Ireland 1969-98 + Bloody Belfast: An Oral History of the British Army's War Against The IRA
Price For All Three: 47.98

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Helion & Company Ltd; Reprint edition (15 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190603379X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906033798
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 14.7 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a former soldier and have written - to date - five books on the Northern Ireland troubles from the perspective of the British soldier on the streets and fields of the province. Two more are in the pipeline. Largely oral, the books encompass the views of the Riflemen and Privates, the NCOs and their officers who risked death and maiming at the hands of savage mobs and the professional yet murderous IRA and INLA. However, I do not reserve my opprobrium for the Republicans, and the Loyalist murder gangs are condemned in equal measure.

My books are pro-squaddie and will always be so.

Product Description


In this excellent and wide-ranging selection of first-hand accounts from the British Army in Northern Ireland, Ken Wharton has assembled testimonies from men of all ranks that are invariably informative, sometimes humorous and often deeply moving. A fitting tribute to the British soldier in a campaign that lasted nearly three decades. --Adrian Gilbert, author of POW: Allied Prisoners in Europe 1939-1945; (The Sunday Times Best Military Books 2006)

A compelling story, told in the refreshingly simple prose of a soldier-scribe. This is the tale of that other war on terror - one fought over several, bloody decades, and largely in the shadows. Lest we forget. --Damien Lewis, bestselling author of Operation Certain Death and & Bloody Heroes.

Here at last is the authentic voice of the veterans of a gruelling and thankless campaign. Powerful, revealing and moving. --Patrick Bishop, bestselling author of 3 Para and Bomber Boys.

A testament to the experiences of the British Army during those troubled years. A splendid book. --Britain at War Magazine

... a vivid and unforgettable record. --Best of British Magazine

...should be required reading at every level of military training, from basic up to and including staff college; if only to educate our future soldiers and officers and to refresh the memories of those who may need reminding of this bloody and tragic time, and not least, to warn that this may not all be in the past. The quote 'that those who do not learn from History are doomed to repeat it' is as true today as ever was. --Army Rumour Service website review

A testament to the experiences of the British Army during those troubled years. A splendid book. --Britain at War Magazine

... a vivid and unforgettable record. --Best of British Magazine

About the Author

Ken Wharton is 59 and is resident now in Australia with his partner Helen. Father of seven and grandfather to three with a fourth pending, he is a skydiver and former football referee. He is also a former soldier and now author of three oral histories on the Northern Ireland troubles. He writes from the perspective of the British soldier as he seeks to put across their story of a conflict, largely forgotten by both Government and public, which claimed the lives of around 1300 military lives. He has only been writing since 2007 but has had a further oral history of the troubles published (Bullets, Bombs & Cups of Tea), and is researching a book on the Australians in Vietnam and a childrens' science fiction book over the next year or two. There is a clamour from veterans of the Northern Ireland conflict to tell their story and ensure that the truth comes out and in Ken Wharton they have found a conduit for those stories and a man they can trust to ensure that the truth is finally told about the conflict which raged not only a short 30 minute flight from home but also on our own doorsteps.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dave Wilson 30 April 2008
A very well written book that brings back long forgotten memories of what was a bitter struggle.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a long awaited book 1 July 2008
A well researched and informative book. Having served in NI the personal reflections upon events and locations by the contributors brought back many memories of my own involvement in 'the troubles' which I have not thought about for many years. The book is also a testimony to the sacrifices suffered by the casualities of the troubles, the servicemen, servicewomen, their families and of course the people of Northern Ireland, which have long been forgotten by the media and the country. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it was like to be involved in a terrosist war, similar to Iraq, in our back yard.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Deeply Touching Book 5 July 2009
I felt compelled to write and post a review on this book, I'm not sure why, maybe because it seemed that this book needed to be noticed and read, to allow the individual soldiers a chance to tell their stories, which is what this book is all about.

"A Long Long War" covers the history of the `Troubles' in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1998. Regardless of your political or religious persuasion this book should be read by all as it offers the reader a chance to view this period through the eyes of the soldiers sent to Northern Ireland to do a job that they had no say in.

This book is not about laying blame or pushing a particular point of view of who was right and who was wrong. Its about soldiers on the ground, patrolling the streets of the towns and cities, the country lanes and roads and not knowing when the next shot would ring out, when the road in front of them or the vehicle they are travelling in would be blown to kingdom-come.

These are young men, some aged only 18 doing what they had been trained to do and thinking they were helping but in the end being caught between two sides with only their comrades to be trusted. Some of the stories are funny, some are terrifying, and a lot are sad, for the loss of brave soldiers and their families and the many innocent civilians killed by what we now call `terrorists'.

I am sure that is going to upset some people/readers but if you plant a bomb to kill and main innocent people then isn't that what a terrorist does? Anyhow read the book for yourself and then decide.

As a soldier once I felt terribly touched by what these young men endured and I hate the idea that their sacrifices had been largely forgotten by the world and even by their own country. I am sure any reader will be touched and saddened by this book.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Long War 16 Jun 2008
By Steve m
Thanks, at last a book about the modern day forgotten war. Well put together and with the information coming from the Security Forces on the ground, it gave a true insight as to the real side of the troubles. Reading this has helped me tell my own family what happened, as at the time I was unable to do this. For those not directly involved, and interested, or just forgotten, this is what happened behind the peace talks!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars very selective 2 Jan 2013
By Mr M
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As an Ex British Army Infantry Soldier and also growing up in N. Ireland during "The Troubles" i could easily relate to the Voices the author related to the reader in his book.
I was initially impressed the author was able to remain detached with his comments after the soldiers stories and the inserts he put in were factual and unbiased, although i felt there were times later in the book, where his wording at the end of the soldiers stories began to have a hint of bitterness and personal"sound bytes" that were to influence the reader to the authors particular point of view of an incident.
All in All a good read, although the ommission of the death of Ranger Cyril Smith QGM, on the 24th October 1990, where there were three synchronized proxy bomb attacks took place at Coshquin (near Derry), Cloghoge (near Newry) and Omagh.
The author only mentioned one at Derry, and i left the book at this stage, as i felt that if the author's research wasnt broad enough to cover this fact (which was actually a big change in terrorist methods, that changed a lot of the tactics soldiers employed at PVCP's) then i thought what else has he not done his homework on.
I felt it a shame as it began so well.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Kingo
i have been driven to submit my review by the unwarrented attack on ken wharton and the soldiers stories as set out in "A Long Long War. Voices From The british army In Northern Ireland1969-98". an attack by somthing called Santa a mythological figure.who finds it easy to snipe at a genuine attemptto tell our story.We , who actually served in Northern Ireland. not through any desire on our part. We were there because,as serving soldiers the govt,of the timemade a decision that the law of the land in that part of the country was breaking down. We stood firm as the abuse,stones , petrol bombs,and later the bullets and bombs took the lives of our mates,Every day ,We ,with great restraint either in the countryside ,or cities,or towns and villages, within the guidelins laid down by our govt, faced hatred, friendship ,at times , and the horror of those days. Family and friends back in towns villages and cities back on the mainland had no ,or little understanding of what we endured daily. Ken Wharton, through his books has given us the outlet to tell of our days and time there. it is easier to put pen to paper than to try to tell our families ,friends, loved ones of our time in N.I. We tell them ,as we lived them... if you find our stories distasteful, if thay upset your preconcived morality, or you do not agree with our stories....DO not call ken wharton a lier...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Raw, Real, Moving.
Some of the soldiers' accounts were harrowing and very real and allowed the reader to get inside the heads of those sent there to an impossibly difficult situation as no other... Read more
Published 10 hours ago by Alexander McKay
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
For me I found this book to be excellent. Having served 3 tours in Belfast as part of 41 and then 45 Cdo in the early part of "The Troubles" it expressed the thoughts and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. H. R. H. Powell
3.0 out of 5 stars A good yarn
This is a good book, with many of the military terms explained in the narrative instead of keep referring to a glossary, although it is let down by poor editing and formatting,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dave Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars revue
absolutely a good read from like wise vets , like myself, if u wanna know our story there it is
Published 4 months ago by sandra i luck
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply moving book
This is essential reading for anyone interested in Northern Ireland's troubles. Individual servicemen's stories provide a raw, often very moving account of their actions against... Read more
Published 5 months ago by J. Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Shane. Ratcliffe
very detailed book. amazing accounts of life on the streets of northern Ireland! very hard reading at times loss of soilders,lives and how they we're dying. Read more
Published 5 months ago by shane ratcliffe
5.0 out of 5 stars the long long war
An excellent book well written.so real you can smell the smells hear the sounds.
takes you back to the dark days. Read more
Published 6 months ago by mac
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Have just read this book in 2013, am now searching for the second book that came out in 2009 great informative read
Published 7 months ago by Davinia
5.0 out of 5 stars It was!!!
Published 7 months ago by critical
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read - horrifying and informative
What a book. It jumps from person to person in the various years covered - my mouth dropped open, on the tube, as I read how many of our service men/women have been killed. Read more
Published 8 months ago by George Pearson
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