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37 Reviews
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book!
Interesting read on the secret war in Northern Ireland. It did not, however, cover operations and incidents as much as I thought it would and instead was more about the political background to the struggles.
Published on 8 April 2012 by ScottishWarrior

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really Hard Read
This was a really difficult book to follow due to the fact that the author kept jumping about between the dates during which the book was set. It may have been easier to read if it had been done in chronological order. There was also a lot of detail with acronyms and at one point was like "alphabet soup". It would also have been better with a flow chart to show...
Published 9 months ago by MR DAVID F WARING


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book!, 8 April 2012
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Interesting read on the secret war in Northern Ireland. It did not, however, cover operations and incidents as much as I thought it would and instead was more about the political background to the struggles.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really Hard Read, 27 Feb 2014
This review is from: Big Boys' Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA (Kindle Edition)
This was a really difficult book to follow due to the fact that the author kept jumping about between the dates during which the book was set. It may have been easier to read if it had been done in chronological order. There was also a lot of detail with acronyms and at one point was like "alphabet soup". It would also have been better with a flow chart to show which units belonged to who (sub units and sub sub units) at the beginning of the book rather than as an appendix at the end.

I would only recommend this book to someone with a deep interest in the subject
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars like a spy novel on steroids with informers, double agents, spy catchers and enforcers, 9 Dec 2013
By 
Robert A. Carter (Holland) - See all my reviews
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I recently read Pig in the Middle which I found fascinating. Big Boys' Rules contains all the same (in)famous characters and dates, the difference being that Mark Urban examines in some detail the roles of Special Forces, MI5 and special units of the RUC.
(I have also read Taskforce Black which encouraged me to try this book)

The underlying dilemma is "One Man's Terrorist is another Man's Freedom Fighter". I must say that I never realized that the Provisional IRA referred to their dead as martyrs.

I couldn't put the book down, as I moved from one incident to the next through the 70's and 80's. There are some amazing stories of bravery, where lone British soldiers have walked away from what I can only describe as unimaginably deadly situations. As well as the deaths of innocent people either caught in the cross-fire or victims of their own curiosity.

In some ways it is like a spy novel on steroids with informers, double agents, spy catchers and enforcers. Within the bounds of the book the violence and brutality is unbelievable, but you must remember that the Provisional IRA was one of the most ruthless and efficient terrorist organizations of the late twentieth century. Is there any other method to adopt other than being equally ruthless and efficient when the opportunity allows?

It is a very interesting, exciting and readable book, and you begin to realize how much of a "Dirty War" the conflict in Northern Ireland was for both side in the conflict.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cold, hard look at the SAS and RUC, 9 Aug 2010
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This is an excellent book. Mark Urban is no mug, and he casts a cold, discriminating eye over the security forces' struggle against the IRA. He focuses, in particular, on the alleged "shoot-to-kill" policy of the British Army and RUC. His judgements, though inevitably hedged and cautious (this is, after all, a shadowy world - it is unrealistic to expect definitive conclusions), are not especially favourable. Urban writes from the perspective of someone who expects high standards of the British state. One might argue that this is overly idealistic and that IRA men had it coming to them; but, nonetheless, this account is a useful rejoinder to the more credulous and jingoistic reportage of the popular British press. Those of you less interested in morality and more interested in "boys' tales" will enjoy his account of the SAS's tactics, ethos and selection process.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars big boy rules,spot on., 21 April 2011
big boys games,big boys rules is an excellent read. Tells the true story of the secret dirty war between the sas and the ira. Pulls no punches,tells the reader exactly what the sas was up against. Not just terrorists but the attitude and mis trust of some police and polititions. Mark urban has stuck to the facts and done the subject matter and the people involved justice. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read, 9 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Big Boys' Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA (Kindle Edition)
Very interesting to find out about an aspect of the troubles I knew little about. Well worth the read. Lots of action.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Big Boy's Rules, 3 May 2014
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W. G. Vale (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Big Boys' Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA (Kindle Edition)
I obviously knew Mark Urban from his work on TV and through that was aware that he had been a soldier and was therefore presumably better qualified to write about this subject than the average journalist.
The book is rather out of date now and predates the Good Friday agreement. One matter that stands out at the monument however is Mark's chapter on the re-organisation of the IRA into ASU "cells" to meet the threat of informers. According to him, the joint architect of this was none other than the current leader of Sinn Fein.
Mark writes in an unbiased manner and if one is looking for a celebration of British Army operations in Ulster - it isn't to be found here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, 11 Jan 2014
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A good price and well put together book with plenty of information about the SAS and their various missions during the troubles in northern Ireland.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great read, 14 Nov 2013
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very deep and informative account of the period witch i grew up in.very touched when i read the account of the death of paul oram as i knew his wife through work and met him a couple of times.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping and emotive account of the constant battle against terrorism, 13 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Big Boys' Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA (Kindle Edition)
Another slant on how the Troubles were responded to, with a force of fearsome reputation, but needing to be an integrated part of the fight.

British Army tribalism hinders getting the best use of a "surgical" force and this is accurately described.

Well worth a read without doubt!
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