Big Boys' Rules
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Top Customer Reviews
(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.
It is not just a study of the SAS role in the conflict. Only part of the book is about the actual operational role of the SAS. Rather, the role of the SAS is examined in relation to political considerations, with various divisions of opinion within the security establishment as to who should lead the fight - i.e. the police or the army - and with what means.
This means some considerable detail about the bureaucratic struggles and in-fighting which shaped policy, which can be a bit heavy going. But it's important to cover that, because too many nuances were lost in some of the polemical exchanges this subject generated in the 1980s (especially from the Republican side and their allies among the British left). In the late 70s, there was genuine disquiet among civilian police about the use of Special Forces and such reservations were never entirely dispelled.
In essence, the book concludes that there was, in all likelihood, an unofficial shoot to kill policy (not words he actually uses explicitly to describe the policy) but, contrary to Republican claims, there was no blanket, official policy to kill IRA volunteers wherever they were found.Read more ›
British Army tribalism hinders getting the best use of a "surgical" force and this is accurately described.
Well worth a read without doubt!
I also felt the book overly sympathetic to the Nationalist/Terrorist agenda. Police and soldiers seem to 'murder' people while terrorist's victims are 'killed'.
I am sure there are more up to date analyses of the subject now available.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book for the younger generation who didn't know all this went onPublished 1 month ago by Dean&Toni
This is one of the better books that I have read about the troubles in Norn Iron :) Worth a read if you're into this sort of thing.Published 3 months ago by Toehoke
Very well written and down to earth accounts of this "dirty war" against urban terrorists who have no regard for the rules of warfare. Read morePublished 6 months ago by graham
An excellent book that manages to objectively look at an incredibly complex time in British/Irish history. Read morePublished 6 months ago by A bookworm