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The Loyalists: Ulster's Protestant Paramilitaries Hardcover – 28 Feb 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; Television tie-in edition edition (28 Feb. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747543887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747543886
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 780,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The timing couldn't be better. For several years now, we've been getting glimpses of life inside the Republican movement--not least in Peter Taylor's, Provos--but the Loyalists in Northern Ireland have remained something of a mystery. All that most of us know is what we see; strange men who dress up in strange orange costumes--like some latter-day Morris dancers--and march provocatively through nationalist areas. A book that gets to the heart of one of the two main players in the 1998 Good Friday agreement can't really lose, especially when it's written by Taylor, who cut his teeth as a BBC reporter in the province in the 1970s and who knows its troubled history as well as anyone.

Loyalists makes compelling reading. It catalogues the struggle in Northern Ireland from its beginnings in the early 17th century, through the Battle of the Boyne, the siege of Derry, the arguments over Home Rule, the founding of the Ulster Volunteer Force and the IRA in 1913 and 1916 respectively, to the present day, but Taylor makes no bones about making the period since 1969 his main concern. The book centres around some breathtakingly frank interviews with Loyalist paramilitaries. Unlike members of the IRA who have tended to glamorise their killings--by portraying themselves as heroic freedom fighters--the Loyalists are refreshingly frank about their activities. They talk in graphic detail about how they planned their murders, carried them out and the rice they have paid for them.

Taylor's skill is to show you how ordinary people can get sucked into events. If they were living anywhere else these men might have been quiet, respectable citizens; in Northern Ireland they become paramilitaries. The political ends justify the means, and it is only when it is too late--when countless lives, including their own, have been ruined--do they realise just what they have done. The problem is that what appears to be random acts of mindless violence to the rest of us are highly effective political weapons to the terrorists. The Loyalists began their campaign as a response to Republican violence and they firmly believe that it was the escalation of their offensive in recent years that brought Sinn Fein to the negotiating table. Taylor is not quite so uncompromising when it comes to separating the chain of command between the so-called Loyalist politicians, such as Ian Paisley, and the paramilitaries. He acquits Paisley of any terrorist involvement; most historians would hesitate to do so. But this is a minor quibble. Taylor has produced a compelling account of ingrained sectarianism. As convicted former terrorists take their places in the new Northern Ireland Assembly, new fledgling terrorists cut their teeth with car bombs and shootings. Taylor helps you understand the process but he doesn't stop you feeling sick. --John Crace


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pablo on 13 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The strength of Loyalists, as with Provos and Brits, is the intelligent use of frank interviews with key protagonists. The opening chapter is the fascinating story of a loyalist killer, prisoner, activist and suicide and sets the ground perfectly for an account of loyalism which is accessible and comprehensive and written with both empathy and incisiveness. I disagree with the Amazon review critic who says that Taylor acquits Paisley of any terrorist involvement. I think Taylor is more subtle: he accounts how Paisley (and Craig for that matter) incited violence - including paramilitary violence - and then sought to abnegate all responsibility. Taylor recounts the facts, juxtaposes these with Paisley's own comments and leaves it for the reader to form her/his own conclusions. I think Paisley's hypocrisy and doublethink are clearly evident and, in fact, this is one of the books strengths, although for a detailed account of Paisley's responsibility in this respect, one has to read Ed Maloney's book. Taylor's book has a wider focus and provides many insights into the world of loyalism although unfortunately contains quite a number of potentially confusing typos.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
Whilst there have been many books written concerning the republican part in the troubles, this book is an excellent insight to the Protestant and Loyalist people of Northern Ireland.The book is very blunt and does not seek to justify Loyalist activities in the troubles but rather show how certain people became involved through their social and religious upbringings. Taylor has produced a worthwhile follow-up to Provos.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By James Smith on 5 April 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every now and then a book comes along which captures the reader from page one and does'nt let go until the final sentence.This is one such book.Peter Taylor has managed the impossible when writing about Ulster,he has told the truth.Thousand may disagree about the content but sometimes the truth hurts.Ulsters troubles have been well documented in the past and will be in the future but anyone who has any intrest in Ulster should read this book (and Provos written by the same author)and hope and pray that a lasting peace can be found.Is that too much to ask for ?
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By gstq1872 on 15 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
intresting book well written& researched more first hand accounts / interviews would have made this book a classic still reccomended though
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By "jc1981" on 29 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
Tracing the history of Loyalism through all it's colourful history, Taylor presents us with an idiot's guide to Loyalism. However, that does not rule out the possibility that the book holds value for readers already well acquainted with the history and personalities on both sides of the struggle. What it gives us is a more humanitarian spin on the actions that led to the formation of the Loyalist defence groupings around Shankill and Woodvale, groupings with would eventually evolve into ruthless death squads with "kill rates" on a par with Rerpublican counterparts.
Taylor delves into the characters that got the UVF, UDA, and even the Ulster Defence, the group with links to Paisley and the DUP, up and running. What he does not do is devote sufficient attention to the internal feuding that often accompanied the actions of both groups. Nor does he delve into the organised crime activities of Loyalist paramilitaries, activites that are dstroying the communities that their articulate apologists such as David Ervine represent.
Within Loyalism, there have always been class issues simmering beneath the surface as well. Gold Coast Unionists, and the Malone Road brigade (read the likes Trimble and Paisley), have always tried to distance themselves from the actions of the frontline warriors of the Shankill or Sandy Row, while cynically, and succesfully, stirring up hatred from the sidelines. These class and internal division issues are left unexplored, as Taylor seeks to present a picture of communities united by common interest, and of course the clichéd siege mentality that many communities live under.
Something that is being drip-fed to us these days, is the potential level of security force (and probably even political) collusion that went on.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jun. 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is blunt, painfully so in that it is chilling to hear people speak so openly about the atrocities they carried out in N. Ireland during the troubles. What other reviewers have failed to mention in their pro-nationalist writings, is the underlying feeling of alienation that the Loyalist people of Ulster are enduring. On one hand,republicans are relentless in their campaign of bombing and shooting, and on the other, the British Government, giving concession after concession to Sinn Fein/IRA. Add to that the Shankill bombing, Enniskillen, Warrenpoint etc, and one can understand the pent up hatred in the protestant population, manifesting into terrorism for some. This book tries to explain the rationale in the thinking of the people responsible for Loyalist violence, without condemning or condoning it. A good read, it takes its place amongst the numerous books written on republican terrorism
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