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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic biography of embattled Ulster Unionist leader, 6 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Trimble (Hardcover)
McDonald's biography cuts off at Christmas 1999- ie between the opening of the Stormont Assembly and Mandelson's decision to protect Trimble by suspending it. This enables the author to show his subject as a statesman achieving a historic breakthrough, rather than the compromisor struggling with euphemistic disarmament and leadership challenges from his own party. But that's publishers' deadlines for you!
Twice in his 30 year political career, Trimble has faced the charge of ambivalence towards loyalist paramilitarism. McDonald considers this comprehensively, and is at his best covering Trimble's involvement in the Vanguard unionist movement in the 1970s. Trimble certainly advised paramilitary leaders on political strategy and legal issues, and was himself an acknowledged leader of the strike in 1974- essentially a mutiny against Wilson's Labour government. However the author finds no evidence of his subject's involvement in any terrorism or criminal activity. Trimble will sue any author or bookseller who suggests otherwise!
In interviews with the author, Trimble seems to regard aspects of the Vanguard era as youthful inexperience- he was only 29 during the strike. No such gloss can apply to his exploitation of the Drumcree stand-off in the mid 1990s. It's undeniable that he used an uncompromising attitude to the marches issue to secure the party election as a hardliner. Trimble does reveal a sense of humour when he compares the Orange Order's archaic block vote to trade unionism's within the Labour Party. So you'll be voting for Ken Livingstone then Davy?
McDonald sketches in enough of Trimble's life outside politics to show him as a likeable, if often awkward family man. There's colourful anecdote from a transvestite brother-in-law, and cringing attempts by his advisers to populise the leader by parading him at football matches and posing with pop singers Ash and U2. His researcher tells of Trimble walking alone to his London flat laden down with wine and opera CDs. Aye, it's a mugging waiting to happen- and someone with better organisation than Martin Smyth might just carry it off...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's good but it's not right..., 2 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Trimble (Hardcover)
...My opinion is that 'Trimble' is a good book, quite well written, but perhaps lacking an analytical edge or a real insight into what makes Trimble tick, the way that someone like A.N. Wilson can.
Henry McDonald is a good journalist. He is not a historian, but his book will undoubtedly prove to be useful for future historians to build on. Admittedly he does try a little too hard at times to justify Trimble's position, and is a little too forgiving, but he soaks up nearly all of the important details before the book's abrupt end.
Hopefully some typo errors and other failings will be ironed out by the time it appears in paperback. I assume it will be updated to take into account the enormity of the events of 2000, of which Trimble was the key man.
Overall, a very interesting book. Worth reading.
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Trimble
Trimble by Henry McDonald (Hardcover - 28 Feb 2000)
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