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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2013
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2012
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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2008
"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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2015
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book.

He does show a very clear sympathy for the IRA's position until the last part where there is some balanced and decent analysis. The republican argument (the north was an artificial creation and therefore it is the will of the irish people, as a whole, which counts) is not obviously wrong but a proper understanding shows this not to be a tenable position. As the author notes - why is the irish 'nation' automatically fixed as the island of ireland? Ireland may have been invaded 1000 years ago (and 600 years later) but why does this matter now? 'England for the English, Scotland for the Scottish'...Britain for the british? Ultimately the IRA's argument that the Irish nation must determinate its own fate is circular - for the whole debate is exactly who is 'Irish'.

The problem with this work is that it is needlessly biased. The author does at many point seem to make moral equivalences between the IRA and their victims - right from the outset he compares the death of an IRA man from a hunger strike to the murder of one of his victims - both 'tragedies'? How can one justify such needless (and wrong) opinions? Those who died on the hunger strike were terrorists who had killed innocent civilians - how can they demand the right to wear their uniforms?

A good work but flawed by needless bias at times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2010
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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on 3 April 2014
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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on 1 December 2013
Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA is written as an objective overview of one of the most controversial armed groups in recent Irish/UK history, from inception through to contemporary splinter groups. Richard English achieves this through a clear and engaging narrative which is detailed and well researched, but not at the cost of pace or intrigue in the story itself.

If you are looking for a well balanced, well written account of the IRA you should most definitely read this book.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 2005
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
on 15 February 2011
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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on 15 November 2015
If your after an easy read then go for a different title. Political overdose, crammed with dates, figures and really quite tough going at times...
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