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The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions [Paperback]

Ruth Dudley Edwards
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 July 2000

The first, intimate portrait of the Orange Order.

If there is any more controversial body of men (and, with the exception of Ruth Dudley Edwards, who has been admitted to an honorary position in her very own lodge, they are all men) in the British Isles, it is hard to think who they might be. To most outsiders, grown men parading in bowler hats, white gloves, coloured sashes or collarettes, rolled umbrellas and banners showing scenes from the Old Testament or from a war that ended three centuries ago, are anachronistic, silly and provocative; to their enemies they are triumphalist bigots; to most of their members, the lodges’ parades are a commemoration of the courage of their forefathers, a proud declaration of their belief in civil and religious freedom, a demonstration of their Britishness, a chance to catch up with old friends and a jolly day out.

Ruth Dudley Edwards is an unlikely Joan of Arc for the Orangemen, but that she is; a trusted and liked sympathizer, a woman, a Catholic from southern Ireland; one who sees them as possibly rather bumptious and certainly their own worst enemy, endlessly outpaced by the nimble Republicans in terms of PR (which the Orangemen scorn to meddle with). She has written a fond but not uncritical, indeed rather exasperated, portrait of this tribe, with lashings of insider detail and revelation which no one else could hope to obtain.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (17 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006388906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006388906
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

'No outsider has travelled into the heart of Orangeism with a mind so open and ears so attentive as Ruth Dudley Edwards…In the course of her quite amazing journey, this Dublin middle-class academic of Catholic background, has absorbed and revelled in the culture of what she would call true Orangeism. With a combination of vivid contemporary journalism and deep historical scholarship, she has managed to portray Orangeism's beating heart – through its turbulent and bloody history and its monumental afternoon teas'
KEVIN MYERS 'Sunday Telegraph'

'The depth of [Dudley Edwards] learning and the breadth of her sympathy, make this a compelling book, the product of genuine free thinking and spare, fine writing. Few books published this year will have the charm, learning, wisdom and humanity of 'The Faithful Tribe'

'Ruth Dudley Edwards' portrait of the loyal institutions – the Orange Order, Apprentice Boys and Royal Black Preceptory – is engrossing and illuminating…her account should convince the open-minded that they have far greater virtues and a stronger case than is normally recognised.'
STEPHEN HOWE 'New Statesman'

'An important and timely book. It should be required reading for those who pontificate on Drumcree. It will probably be assailed on both sides, which in Northern Ireland amounts to something of a critical success'
MAURICE HAYES 'Irish Independent'

'Dr Edwards has ensured that even if readers don't agree with the Orangemen's stand, at least they may better understand it'

'Dudley Edwards has got closer to the Orange Order than any outsider'

About the Author

Sometime academic, civil servant, biographer, broadcaster and columnist, Ruth Dudley Edwards is a long-standing author on the HarperCollins Crime list.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling... 4 Mar 2014
Although others may disagree, I like the way the author of this book attempted to deviate from the conventional negative stereotype which presents the Orange Order as a sectarian medieval tribe - a standardization which is seemingly the obligatory position adopted by most observes of the institution. It's not that this is an invalid representation - something acknowledged by the author - but it is often an oversimplification of a complex and not necessarily homogenous organisation.

In theory, this deviation should allow the author to scrutinize the Orange institutions independent of propagandistic preconceptions. Indeed, why bother examining a particular subject if you've already narrowed the parameters of exploration? However, while a sympathetic perspective should not be construed as an automatic inference of bias or prejudice, there are times when this polemic seems almost dogmatic in its approach.

For instance, I was uneasy with the rather peculiar implication that the Catholic residents who oppose Orange marches in their neighbourhoods, on the basis that they regard them as antagonistic or intimidating, are themselves exhibiting a tribalistic intolerance which is bound up in politically manufactured grievances of which the primary functions are to elevate republicanism while simultaneously stigmatizing the Orange institutions. In essence, there is no credible basis for Catholic opposition to Orange parades. Catholics do not and cannot have genuine grievance, they have only artificial concerns engendered by Sinn Féin who seek to derive political capital from their airing.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most objective view yet 11 May 2001
By A Customer
From the point of view of the average Orangeman this is an excellent piece of work in that it articulates the sense of frustration and disbelief he feels concerning the demonisation of an organistation that really does believe it stands for Civil and Religious liberty. There are those who will brand Dudley Edwards an apologist and she has clearly fallen under the spell of many Orange families. I clearly recognise families like my own. What I feel she fails to do is to confront forcefully enough, the unease many Orangemen feel with elements within their own 'broad church'. To wit, the ABOD, the Blood and Thunder movement and the yobbish element in Belfast. From a personal point of view I also believe that the links with the Scottish Orange family are not as well developed as they could be(both the positive and negative aspects) Full marks, however, to Harper Collins for taking this project on board. I hope they continue to publish authors who confront the accepted orthodoxy of Irish Pan nationalist historiography and political writing. (2, 1/2)
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4.0 out of 5 stars It all started in Torbay 27 Jun 2014
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
So, are they honest, blunt, naive, salt-of-the-earth, loyal patriots with a heart of gold or are they outdated bigots, stubborn, unwilling to compromise, implicated with violence? In the author's eyes, with the exception of an 'odd bad apple', they are the former.

The book commences as a study of the Loyal Institutions but, after a couple of chapters, the Apprentice Boys and the Royal Black take a very firm back seat to a lengthy study of the Orange Order. Be under no illusion, the author has astonishing access to the highest reaches and the inner sanctums which helps, of course, portray the image of openness the book and the Order wish to encourage. At times I felt I was reading a study of the Masons.

This 'image' is crucial to understanding the drive and purpose of the book. It is part of the Public Relations War to overcome the PR drubbing dished out by Sinn Fein; a point openly acknowledged.

In fact, perversely, this open access can become a distraction. The author cannot stop herself recounting every minute detail the access affords and a degree of editorial control would not have gone amiss. It is a long book. Another minor irritant is that the author places herself into the story: her own 'history' in the events of the 80's/90's, e.g. 'I was in Pomeroy when...' or 'I wrote a piece about...'.

The descriptions of the Drumcree walks/parades/marches (delete to suit your politics) were fascinating and prompted further reading. (Tony Blair's exasperated comments whilst trying to deal with Breandan MacCionnaith are even more amusing than the author's).

It was excellent to read sensible, insightful comments on key figures such as David Trimble, whatever their public image. Likewise the author pulls no punches in her criticisms of the leadership of the Independent Orange Order.

The book has already been reprinted with two additional chapters and one wonders whether a further update is planned.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must 6 Oct 2000
By A Customer
A must for any serious scholar of the troubles and the Orange Order. This book goes beyond the headlines and into the ordinary lives of the Orange family. A fair and balanced factual view, the best yet written about this much misunderstood group of people.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sympathetic Must Read 3 Sep 2007
Though I have lived in Northern Ireland for many years and know a number of Orangemen, some of whom I would count as very good friends, there were still lots of things that I learned as a result of reading this book. It is a sympathetic insight from an outsider looking in who is surprised and delighted to discover that Orangemen are real people and nothing like the demonised badboys of extremist Irish Republican mythology. She does point out that on occasion Orangemen have not been well served by their leaders or their hostility to the media. At times she voices her frustration at the ability of members of the Order to literally walk into traps laid for them by those who do not wish them well. But this is clearly a story that needed to be told and it is told in a spirit of kindness and generosity. It will enable anyone wanting to know more about the inner dynamics of this aspect of Northern Ireland's "Protestant culture" to be well informed as well as entertained.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Ruth Dudley Edwards presents a fascinating insight into the institutions that some within NI are determined not to have a shared future with.
Published 3 months ago by Sigmund
5.0 out of 5 stars Oranges are not the only fruit
I came at this book not quite sure what I was even expecting. A Dubliner writing about the Orange order being something of an extreme departure from the usual suspects I might have... Read more
Published 3 months ago by James
1.0 out of 5 stars A Skewed Insight into a Sectarian Bigoted Organisation
How any right minded so called Irish Catholic can Laud such an Organisation is beyond Comprehension. Read more
Published 4 months ago by R.F.R
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intertesting Read
I've not yet finished the book but what I have read so far has been an interesting Even handed and open account of the Loyal Orange Order and it's members. Read more
Published on 3 July 2010 by Herneoakshield
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Having bought the book recently I have to say that once I started reading it, I couldn't leave it down. Read more
Published on 27 Feb 2010 by Gary Middleton
1.0 out of 5 stars Abysmal
This is about the worst book I have ever read in the general Northern Ireland bibliography. In its whitewashing of the dark side of Orangeism it plunges new depths of propagandist... Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2007 by A reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Missed chance
A very interesting subject treated in a much too biased way and totally lacking an in-depth analysis of the phenomenon. Could do much more in more than 600 pages of writing...
Published on 13 Feb 2004
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