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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent: Fair and Balanced
"Armed Struggle" is easily the most accurate, well written and balanced account of the IRA I've read. English's thorough scholorship and intelligent analysis is a welcome improvement from less rigorous, journalistic works on republicans. The narrative is clear, concise and accessible. English has produced a detailed and informative history of the IRA with thoughtful...
Published on 23 Aug. 2008 by 10jflow

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is not fair, objective or balanced!
Some reviews have described this book as objective and balanced. It is nothing of the sort. I think some people believe it is because it treats the IRA as an interesting phenomenon which it then evaluated without negative moral judgement. This is not objectivity, in fact an objective academic would look at a violent paramilitary group with a critical eye, holding it's...
Published 4 months ago by Stuart


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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent: Fair and Balanced, 23 Aug. 2008
This review is from: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Paperback)
"Armed Struggle" is easily the most accurate, well written and balanced account of the IRA I've read. English's thorough scholorship and intelligent analysis is a welcome improvement from less rigorous, journalistic works on republicans. The narrative is clear, concise and accessible. English has produced a detailed and informative history of the IRA with thoughtful analysis. I was very suprised to find that another reviewer found it "biased", because I have read a large portion of the vast available literature on "the Troubles" and with this work English successfully avoids the partiality or sensationalism that characterises so much of the literature on this subject. This is an extremely valuable resource for anyone interested in the IRA, "the Troubles", or Irish nationalism and history in general.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, Impartial, Excellent., 30 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Paperback)
An outstanding analysis of one of the most clinical, ruthless and ultimately fascinating guerrilla organisations of the modern period.

The strength of this thesis is the fine, balanced approach which the author assumes throughout. It is neither a study blurred by romantic idealism or outright, irrational condemnation.

This is not necessarily a chronological narrative - although it does cover a vast array of historical sources - but rather an intimate study of the socio-political dimensions which have permeated the insurrectionist, Republican movement since its primitive, embryonic form at the beginning of the 20thC until its eventual absorption into the constitutional framework of democratic politics at the dawn of the 21st.
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2.0 out of 5 stars This book is not fair, objective or balanced!, 21 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Paperback)
Some reviews have described this book as objective and balanced. It is nothing of the sort. I think some people believe it is because it treats the IRA as an interesting phenomenon which it then evaluated without negative moral judgement. This is not objectivity, in fact an objective academic would look at a violent paramilitary group with a critical eye, holding it's claims up to scrutiny. This is something English signally fails to do.

The book is well-written and easy to read. A reader my learn some of the facts but the book is so heavily skewed to the republican viewpoint that it is overwhelmingly a negative contribution to this subject. The IRA is analysed totally uncritically. The section on the hunger strikes is almost entirely from the republican perspective.

English has written a History of the IRA which ceases to form critical moral judgements even though it has been responsible for almost 1800 deaths, hundreds of which were civilian. He describes Sinn Fein/IRA's chief propagandist (Danny Morrison) as a "gifted publicist"!

English states "public attention on IRA victims shouldn't blind us to the suffering republicans themselves endured". Would English say that public attention on the victims of 7/7 shouldn't blind us to the suffering of the suicide bombers? . This is not objectivity it is taking a position of moral equivalence that has no rational moral basis.

English's analysis of why the IRA campaign ended is wrong and pretty much in line with what Sinn fein want us to believe. The IRA ended it's campaign because they realised they couldn't win and gave up. He says that republicans came to the realisation that they could achieve their objectives better through politics than violence. The success of the security forces in creating this opinion is crucially left out of the analysis!

English at times lapses into propaganda. For example he states that republican pride in the IRA is "understandable", going on to quote Gerry Adams praising it. Quoting Adams in such a way is not objectivity in an author but an author acting as a propagandist.

English's lack of any critical judgement on the IRA even extends to punishment beatings when he says that they can be explained by problems of policing, seeming almost to justify them. English states that he's not entirely convinced the IRA were justified but he doesn't believe in myopic condemnation of them. It's worth noting that English has no problem "myopically" condemning loyalists!

In conclusion this is a disappointing book. It lacks objectivity and critical analysis of a violent paramilitary group responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths. Not a book I would recommend to anybody seeking to understand the IRA!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, impartial read for anyone who wants a closer look at modern N.Irish history, 11 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Paperback)
Any book written on Northern Ireland's recent conflict will be accused of bias, but any such accusation against this book is wholly unfounded.

This book takes you right through the IRA's history, from the early 20th right up to the early 21st century. The author, Richard English, is probably the world's foremost authority on the subject.

If you are looking for a book that will endlessly glorify or demonise the IRA, this is not for you. The author leaves the job of forming opinions on morality up to you whilst he dispenses facts in great storytelling rhetoric. I have seen lectures given by the author; on a personal level he is deeply opposed to the IRA, but you would not be able to tell that from this book. He remains a historian and spares you his opinion.

I had a fair knowledge of the IRA before reading this and I imagine someone completely unfamiliar with Northern Ireland's history might be a bit overwhelmed with the detail that the book goes into. Similarly, if you're only interested in "The Troubles" rather than all the history behind it you would do well to skip ahead a few chapters.

The author has sought out and interviewed many IRA members, giving him a knowledge of how the IRA was 'on the ground' that a lot of high level political books like this miss out. If you are from Ireland / Northern Ireland, this book will teach you a lot about the history that created the circumstance our country is currently in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irish studies, 4 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Paperback)
An indepth study of this organisation.
factual and full of insight at a personal level.
Impressed with the authors ability to detach himself from taking sides and evaluating the facts as presented by the organisation.
Always worth remembering there are two sides to every story and this presents just one side.

history has a habit of repeating itself hope this time lessons can be learned in time!
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Armed Struggle. history of the IRA, 26 Nov. 2005
By 
Mr M Ventress (Driffield, East Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Paperback)
Being half Irish,but not having lived in Ireland,Ihave for a long time had an intrest in Irish history. when I first saw this book I wasn't sure if it was for me. Having bought and read it, I'm very pleased I did.Richard English has produced what others have failed to do.The research and attention to detail is incredible.He has given a fair and balanced account of the 'troubles'from the 1916 Easter rising to the turn of the century.I found it quite heavy reading in places, having to absorb such an enormous of information,both social and political. Anyone intrested in Irish hitory should read it, as it fills a big gap and provides a lot of answers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive and balanced account of the IRA, 15 Feb. 2011
By 
D. Mcmahon "Dee576" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Paperback)
Having grown up in `the Troubles' and studied this period of Irish history at an academic level I would attest that this is one of the most accurately researched, balanced and comprehensive accounts of the Irish Republican Army which I have read to date. It should be studied by anyone with an interest in Irish politics. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars non bias and very educational, 3 April 2014
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This is by far the best book on this subject that I have ever read,it gives a true and honest history of I.R.A. politics and thinking.
It is totally non bias and does not support or condemn the armed struggle but rather lets you get inside the organisation and understand where they came from and where they would like to go into the future.
The book is very heavy in places as far as the political thinking of Irish republicans goes but you will never lose interest.
The most honest and educational book of Irish history to date.
I highly recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars insightful, 15 Mar. 2014
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A great read and another interesting look into the sneaky world of the IRAQ very good accounts of their past.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good explanation of Ireland,s desire for independence, 6 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Paperback)
At least-it does give a good historical account of the Irish desire to be free of British rule-after 8 centurues
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Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA
Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA by Richard English (Paperback - 5 Mar. 2004)
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