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4.7 out of 5 stars35
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 July 2010
As with many other reviews I read this book to gain a better understanding of the conflict that has raged for so many years, both on and off our shores. After watching the documentary of the same name, I purchased the book and found it to be informative, unbiased and exceptionally well written. You can truly appreciate the ammount of research and work that Peter Taylor has put into this book and I feel that the style in which he interjects the narrative with interviews and accounts from eye witnesses, IRA Volunteers, Republican and Loyalist politicians as well as accounts from British Intelligence agencies at the time. A brilliant study and I look forward to reading the additional two books in support of this one, 'Brits' and 'Loyalists'.
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on 15 December 2000
I bought this book because I wanted to understand how the conflict in N.Ireland could have continued for so long. Peter Taylor is an excellent researcher, broadcaster and writer and his experience of the conflict is second to none. His book is not just another plain factual and political account of the conflict, but about real people. To me, the most disturbing thing about the book is that for the first time I really understood just how easy it was for people, who would otherwise have led normal lives, to become engaged in activities that they would never have contemplated in normal circumstances. This book is an absolute must for anyone wanting really to understand why there has been such conflict and why it has continued for so long.
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on 21 September 2006
Peter Taylor's TV series were highly impressive and his books even better. He's a courageous reporter who has managed to track down many of the leading provos and, most importantly, got them to relate their history in as revealing and provocative a way as possible. Taylor is always quick to detect subtexts within his history and his detachment and determination to uncover the truth are admirable. There are, of course, countless partisan accounts of the Troubles but this manages to sound balanced without ever becoming bland. He is to be congratulated for one of the best books yet written on this difficult subject.
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on 11 March 2013
Excellent description of an extremly difficult subject. The author clearly has a vast understanding of the conflict and imparts this is an unbiased way (clearly expressing when it is his opinion or when its proven fact). A great introductory read into the complex world of northern Ireland
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on 15 May 2009
The strength of this book is the author's extensive interviews with IRA members, who give their feelings and opinions on a wide range of issues at numerous key points between the 1960s and 1998. Near the start of the book we have republicans talking openly and honestly about their background and why they joined the movement. Thus follows a history of the provisionals in which the players are real human beings rather than demonised psychopaths, and we thus gain insights into their doubts, fears, regrets, motivation and morale. Interesting inside accounts range from an IRA man targeted for recruitment by British Intelligence to the republican experience of the Milltown cemetery attack. Coverage of the hunger strikes is detailed and thorough and accounts of the negotiations between the British government and the IRA include hitherto unpublished IRA minutes of secret meetings. Taylor is not afraid to ask the IRA about their attitude to killing, and bombings such as Bloody Friday in Belfast. Their responses are here, so you can judge for yourself. The principal weak point of the book is the account of the split in the IRA which gave birth to the provisionals. This important development is incompletely and unclearly treated and, significantly, there are no Official IRA voices to provide a balance of views on the split.
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on 25 January 2011
Well for years i must admit the irish troubles were something that was constantly on the news and i had only one view a british one of course,and i could not understand why people would want to join the IRA and become a terrorist,well after reading this book i do now,and wether or not you agree with the provo movement or not you must read this book at least to understand how and why people did join the movement,remarkably the british army were recieved in NI as saviours by the catholic community but eventually were seen as oppressors of them,so i recommend this book highly and try to read it with out prejudice but with understanding,peter tayor has done a fantastic job here i am currently reading Loyalist by the same author and then on to the Brits hopefully they will prove every bit as good as this book.
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on 9 April 1999
Many journalists parachute into an issue, write their byline, and disappear when the next round of flack begins. Not so Peter Taylor, who in staying with Northern Ireland for almost a generation is a reporter who gives journalism a good name. He has not only produced substantial television series on both the IRA and Loyalist terroristism, but is aware that despite the evident advantage of using television to explain life's complexities many of the subtleties may need to be further developed in prose. This is not however a book of the television series, but stands on its own right as a deeply researched analysis of not just the history of the IRA but of the political mindview within which they work. Taken in conjunction with his equivalent and more recent book on Loyalist terrorists Peter Taylor has ensured that no one in Britain (or Ireland) can now excuse their lack of understanding by maintaining that no-one has seen fit to provide a suitably accessible study of the protagonists. If you want to know why the political extremists have come in from the cold and seem now engaged in political rather than military campaigns you can do no better than read Peter Taylor.
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on 3 June 2015
An excellent introduction to the troubles for the layman

Irish history, like the history of any other nation, cannot be pigeon holed into neat black and white categories. It's complex, at times messy, and provides the scholar with no easy answers to why things happened as they did.

Impartial, near unbiased, and written with journalistic analysis, Taylor provides the reader with one of the best books I've read on the subject (and I've read many!)

The brevity of this review may infuriate some, but I prefer to let the pages speak for themselves. A long winded review from me indicates a particular problem with a book. The shorter the review, the better the book!

Highly recommended.
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on 9 April 2015
Really informative and gripping book gives a huge insight into how all the troubles escalated from the way catholics were persecuted to internment and the escalation of violence
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on 19 January 2016
Puts a lot of childhood memories into perspective. Very clear style, but still easy reading. For me it's history and preparation for working in NI.
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