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on 13 November 2009
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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on 24 February 2000
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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on 5 April 2002
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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on 29 January 2004
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. With shades of the state terrorism of the GAL in 1980s Spain, the revelations that security forces colluded in, or at best freely and knowingly allowed, import of arms, targeting of victims, and obviously, sectarian killings, such as that of Pat Finucane, collusion could in the future become a hot political potato for many in Ulster and in London. Taylor avoids such intricacies of the Loyalist killing missions, giving, as stated, a more humane approach to the whole thing. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The reader should just undertand that by reading and enjoying this book, they are only scratching the surface of the murky world inhabited by Loyalist paramilitaries.
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on 22 June 1999
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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on 27 February 2015
not as good as provos but still a well researched and engaging read from taylor as you would expect. his . knowledge of the subject is second only to those living it.
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on 18 July 2015
Good book, however font was a bit small and few details not up to scratch. Noticed a few errors on the section of the book i was interested in..The UWC strike.
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on 15 July 2013
intresting book well written& researched more first hand accounts / interviews would have made this book a classic still reccomended though
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on 30 July 2012
The nationalists and the IRA have usually got a more sympathetic press coverage than the Loyalists*, despite their atrocities, so it is good to have a book that presents their point of view.

This is not a sympathetic account by any means and, in fact, is a counterweight to the author's previous book "Provos".

It is written in a journalistic way, with lots of names, dates and details and presents horrific events in a fairly dispassionate way, leaving opinions and condemnation to others who are quoted.

It also gives no historical background to the events that blew up in Northern Ireland in 1969 and lasted for over 30 years.

In some way, this is good because bookshelves are growing with the weight of works on Irish history.

On the other hand, I think some background would have been a big help and explained why two communities living side by side were prepared to slaughter each other.

It also fails to give enough historical perspective but perhaps that is an unfair criticism of a work that was published only two years after the agreement that "ended" the troubles - or the latest round.

*Perhaps the reasons for this are that the unionists were seen to be standing up for the status quo and their leaders, like Ian Paisley, came over as fanatics. The unionists were also unable to exploit the support of the "Ulster Scots" in America where IRA gunmen like Gerry Adams became heroes to "Irish-Americans" with little knowledge of modern Ireland, particularly Ulster.
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on 25 July 2015
Superb. For anyone wanting to know more about Ireland, and Northern Ireland in particular, this book is a must-read. No doubt about it.
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