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Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA by [English, Richard]
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Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Review

‘an essential book … closely-reasoned, formidably intelligent and utterly compelling … required reading across the political spectrum … important and riveting’ Roy Foster, The Times ‘an outstanding new book on the IRA … a calm, rational but in the end devastating deconstruction of the IRA’ Henry McDonald, Observer ‘superb … the first full history of the IRA and the best overall account of the organization. English writes to the highest scholarly standards … Moreover, he writes with the common reader in mind: he has crafted a fine balance of detail and analysis and his prose is clear, fresh and jargon-free … sets a new standard for debate on republicanism’ Peter Hart, Irish Times ‘a work which eclipses all other studies of the IRA and must now be regarded as the single most important book on the topic … a penetrating and rewarding study’ Keith Jeffery, Times Literary Supplement ‘excellent book’ Patrick Bishop, Daily Telegraph ‘the best analytical history of the IRA yet written. Even those who grew up with the Troubles will find it a provocative and freshly compelling work. More importantly, perhaps, fifty years from now it will still be required reading – generations who look back and wonder what the Northern conflict was all about will find many of their answers here. Superb … the rigour and depth of English’s analysis is exceptional’ Niall Strange, Sunday Business Post ‘fluent, fascinating account of the origins, actions and ideologies of that caucus of shadows, the Provisional IRA … an enormous challenge of narrative, historical research and tact. In all these regards, English succeeds … his description of what he refers to as the “personal” consequences of republican violence is ultimately as heartbreaking as it is dispassionate’ Joseph O’Neill, Guardian ‘a great book. What impressed me most was the way Richard English managed to present such an historical and contradictory mess with such clarity and fairness. The book grabbed and held me like a very good novel’ Roddy Doyle, author of A Star Called Henry ‘This is a book whose time has come. At a historic moment when Irish republicanism is in the process of redefining itself, a highly-talented historian gives a compelling analysis of its past. The book’s genius lies in its non-judgemental approach, an approach which has induced many leading republicans to speak more frankly to Richard English than they have done to any previous historian. This mixture of skilful historical research and totally new personal statements from key republicans makes this a captivating, authoritative and highly readable book. It is masterly and hard-hitting and is likely to become something of a modern classic.’ Marianne Elliott, author of The Catholics of Ulster ‘an impressive achievement … Richard English’s study is the most probing and thorough analysis

Peter Hart (Author of THE IRA AND ITS ENEMIES), January 2003

...the best account by far of the twentieth century's longest war... If you want to know where the IRA came from and how they think, this is the book to read.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1505 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Reprints edition (4 Sept. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003GWX87Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #116,378 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
"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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By jackd on 22 Jan. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Maybe not quite as good as the author would make out in his own preface perhaps, but well written nonetheless. I think I was more engaged with Tim Pat Coogan's work on the subject. Being consciously even-handed between Britain and republicanism creates a lot of additional "to be fair" and "on the other hand" expressions which can feel a bit verbose at times. Considering the state of Ulster in the 50s and 60s - a human rights joke - to try to blame the Troubles on the tactics of the civil rights movement perhaps suggests Mr English isn't as even-handed as he would like to think he is.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have followed the events in Northern Ireland with great interest since the 1970's. At the time it seemed like the atrocities would never end and that loyalist and republican groups seemed determined to outdo each other in terms of killing people they perceived as their enemies. I was very pleased that after so many years that the situation there has greatly improved. Some people have speculated that a truth and reconciliation council such as that in South Africa should be established where people could give their accounts of the conflict knowing that they would not be subject to legal proceedings afterwards. I don't think such a thing would happen with regard to the events that have taken place in Northern Ireland since the 1960's as the "sides" in the conflict, the British government and the unionist and republican paramilitary groups have far too much to hide. If they revealed everything they did it would prove far too shocking and embarrassing. It would show just how many times they lied and deceived the people of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The wounds are still far too fresh for that to happen in our lifetimes.

The "Armed Struggle" shows how the IRA came into being and details its history from the Easter Rising in 1916, how internal disagreements led to the formation of the Provisionals and how they carried out their operations from 1969 to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 following many years of bloodshead, civil strife, inter-communal violence, several unsuccessful cease fires and periods of relative calm. The book is divided into four parts - History 1916-1963, Protest and Rebellion 1963-1976, Prisons and Politics 1976-1988 and peace? 1988-2002 and it attempts, usually successful to be a balanced account of the troubles.
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