David Beresford was the "Guardian" correspondent in Belfast during the time of the H Block hunger strikes in 1980-81.He has had remarkable access to some secret republican archive-though according to Ed Maloney,his access was restricted and censored,probably without his knowledge.
The IRA/INLA prisoners communicated with the outside world though what they called "comms",messages written on cigarette papers and then smuggled out by visitors.This is the archive that Beresford tapped into,and it is most revealing.
He also has interviewed overground leaders in Britain and Ireland,including Catholic Church leaders,and his portrait of them is far from flattering.He recounts how Cardinal O'Fiach once complained to Margaret Thatcher about British press coverage of him, and Mrs. devastatingly said "Well,have you seen what they write about me?"
The claustrophobic nightmare of the H Blocks is well depicted,and at the end,Beresford quotes a comm from an IRA prisoner talking about the need to intensify and develop political activity-even to the extent of imagining a republican MP putting accross Sinn Fein arguments in the House of Commons.Knowingly or unknowingly,this (anonymous)prisoner foresaw the IRA/Sinn Fein strategy from 1981 onwards,which culminated in the 1997 Good Friday agreements,even if Gerry Adams never made it to Westminister in the end.
I read this when it first came out in 1987,I don't know if they're is a new edition.It is great reportage,well worth reading whatever your position on Northern Ireland.Also,in just two years,the British official records of this period will become available to scholars-maybe that is the time for a new edition.