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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing insight into the 1981 Hunger Strike,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)I urge you to suspend judgement & read this lucid and honest account of the events that took place inside the H-Blocks. The author tells his story with wry humour starting with how he ended up inside after a bodged up bank robbery for the IRA. He explains the events that led to the dirty protest - where prisoners smeared excrement over their cell walls - and on ultimately to the hunger strike.
He tells of the pressure he felt seeing his mates slowly starving themselves to death to uphold their principles and the fight for their right to political status. Fresh insights are given into the machinations of the republican leadership for which the author is refreshingly open and critical.
O'Rawes book shines with a masculine humanity and camaradarie, without a trace of self pity, that cannot be beaten even in the most desperate of circumstances.
By any standards this is a well written and important memoir.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - and quite disturbing,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)To get the chance to read the inside story of the hunger strikers in H-Block is definitely fascinating. Down to the last detail of their banter, their despair, the interaction between the prisoners, and the difficult situation of explaining their motives to even close relatives - it's all there in this fascinating account.
However, O'Rawe also raises the controversial subject of whether the hunger strike could possibly have been brought to an earlier end if the Army Council had been preapred to do so. This difficult issue has been extensively discussed, and many people, most notably Danny Morrison, have contradicted O'Rawe's assessment.
Of course, the "common reader" will not be able to decide where the truth ultimately lies. One thing is for sure, though, O'Rawe's account is honest, direct and - by raising that most difficult issue - deeply disturbing.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an insight into a dark period in irish history,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)first of all i would say that richard o`rawe has made a very brave decision to tell the truth about a a period of time that still remains a republican cornerstone in the recent troubles in ulster. to have the courage to write this book and take on sinn fein and other former comrades while still living in west belfast must have been a really hard decision to make and he deserves the highest credit for doing so.
having read his follow up book AFTERLIVES and reading how he has been vindicated by former blanketmen in the h blocks during the same period as blanketmen covers i have no doubt that this book is the real truth about what happened during the second hunger strike and how the last five hunger strikers died for nothing else but for the five that went before them and the rise of sinn fein in politics in ulster.
the recent disclosure of offical goverment papers has also lent great weight to o`rawes book and as a loyalist from west belfast who lived through this period i know what personnal courage it must have taken him to write this book and to let the world know the real truth about these brave mens death
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)I have read many many books about the troubles and the hunger strikes and this is one of the better ones. It is very easy to read and keeps your attention. I would highly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into the H-Block struggle,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)This book provides a fantastic insight into the H-Block struggle. The author provides his own account of his experiences inside the Maze. A great read for anyone who is interested in Republican struggle.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blanketmen and Hunger Strikers: the naked truth.,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)I never cease to be amazed at the quality of text produced by those who have in the past been branded as 'mindless criminals' by the British State. Gerry Adams is a writer of exceptional quality, others include Danny Morrison and Lorny McKeown. Richard O'Rawe can now be added to that list. This is a book of exceptional clarity and readability - it is hardly any wonder that O'Rawe was chosen to be the PRO for H3 at the time of the 1981 hunger strike.
The book benefits from having short chapters (of which there are many) and this means that you can make your way through it without interrupting the flow if, like me, you tend to read in spurts rather than long sessions. The book is candid in its treatment of the role of the Army Council during the summer of 1981 and, in particular, that of Gerry Adams. Debate is what politics are all about and others may take a different tack than the one advocated by O'Rawe, but he is sincere about his concerns and this demands some measure of respect. He was, after all, in the front line. I don't personally agree with some of his views on the role of the leadership, particularly given the political gains that have occurred since the election of Bobby Sands, but others might.
If you are interested in the trials and tribulations of the blanketmen and the political machinations behind the 1980 and 1981 hunger strikes, then this is the book for you. I heartily recommend it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read - Recommended,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)Together with Before the Dawn and Cage 11 The Blanket Men is equally as compulsive.
It gave me the understanding of what went on in relation to to the hunger strikers as opposed to media propaganda.
I was struck by Bobby Sands 'there is no better love than to lay down you life' or words to that effect. The selflessness of this action for a higher cause is nothing short of Warrior status and how these people were prepared to sacrafice their lives for their rights and the strength and determination to do so irrespective of the outcome left me awe struck.
I am glad that I have been given the opportunity to gain insight into this sad time in our history.
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth is sometimes painful,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)O'Rawe made himself persona non grata amongst may Irish Republicans after this was published.He was the publicity (propaganda) officer in one of the H Blocks during the hunger strikes of 1981,and what he writes is most revealing.
His vision of the nightmare of the Blocks is well written and convincing.What he has to say about the direction of the hunger strikes is even more so,and partially confirmed by documents published by the British goverment after the original publication.
Put simply,O'Rawe argues that the prisoners on hunger strike were offered a deal by the British after the fourth hunger strike death in the summer of 1981.the deal was asa good as it was going to be,and the prisoners knew that the alternative was the converyor belt of dead hunger strikers continuing.He argues that the leadership outside the prison vetoed the deal and six more prisoners died before more or less the same deal was accepted in October 1981.
Why?Well,the hunger strikes had tapped into a vein of republicanism that expressed itself in voting,obvious examples being Bobby Sands and two prisoners elected to the Irish Dail.the by-election to replace Sands was in August,so if the hunger strikes were ongoing,it gave a republican a very good chance of election. 6 dead prisoners for a real live MP? Politics is not a sentimental business.
No wonder O'Rawe was subject to such hostility.On the other hand,the truth is frequently painful.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irish Republicanism Since 1981,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)This is one of the best books to be written about the 1981 Hunger Strikes and the after effects that we are beginning to feel only now, almost 30 years later. Richard O'Rawe brings to the table in this book, the same truth and strength he brings to the table in his everyday life.
The lies, threats and intimidation that were afforded him in the immediate aftermath of this book coming out shows how much truth there actually is in this book and how the Hunger Strikers were actually pawns in a game being played by both the British and Irish Republicans not only at the time but still now in 2010 seeing they are the biggest money maker for Provisional Sinn Fein, and Gerry Adams in person seeing as he is the only one in charge of the Bobby Sands Trust, not even the Sands family are afforded any say in what the Trust does, claims or any money they might make. Especially seeing as the Sands family have never endorsed the Trust and have pubicily asked for it to be closed down on numerous occasions.
I would give more weight to this book rather than others seeing as Richard O'Rawe was actually in Ling Kesh at the time and was PRO for the POWs so would be more in the loop as others who have written on the subject.
The "deal or no deal" is still raw in the minds and hearts of Irish Republicanis and since the publishing of this book more and more ex-POWs, who were in Long Kesh at the time, have come out in support of O'Rawe and his claims.
I see that someone mentioned Gerry Adams as "writer of exceptional quality". Perhaps that person does not realise that Adams uses a "ghost writer" and that any thing Danny Morrison writes has to be "vetoed" by Adams before it can even be passed on to the publisher. O'Rawe, on the other hand, is an uncensored version of events that did happen and that are still being swept under the carpet by those guilty of murdering 6 of the 10.
Highly recommended book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
This review is from: Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (Paperback)This takes us back to the days of the late 1970's and 1980's when England tried to criminalize the Irish Republican P.O.W.'S and failed. This is not a book for the squeemish, it takes you inside the H Blocks of Ceish Fada [ LONG KESH] and the brutality of the prison regime meted out to the P.O.W'S who in turn rather than bend the knee to be classed as criminals engaged on two Hunger strikes. the first called off when one of the P.O.W.'S was at deaths door, the next was when Bobby sands followed by nine brave comrades hungered to death for their rights as Irish soldiers and to be granted five just demands. This book takes you back to those sad, grief stricken days and for anyone with an interest in Irish Politics regarding six of the nine Counies of Ulster which are still under British rule then please read it.
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Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike by Richard O'Rawe (Paperback - 1 Feb 2005)