Brits: The War Against the IRA Paperback – 18 Feb 2002
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A huge amount has been written about Northern Ireland and its troubles, but Brits is a valuable addition to the field, coming as it does from a reporter who has devoted to it so much of his working life. Peter Taylor, who has produced many fine BBC documentaries and a series of books on this difficult subject here details the more controversial incidents in the record of the security and intelligence agencies.
It has been a long and controversial record, with opinion still differing on whether the security forces could have dealt more effectively with groups such as the IRA. Bloody Sunday is here, and Gibraltar, and Loughgall and all the rest. Some incidents rocked the IRA to its foundations, such as the loss of seven of its men at Loughgall. Others, such as the SAS killings of three unarmed IRA members at Gibraltar, and the deaths of the 1981 hunger strikers, added potent new icons to the IRA's gallery of martyrs.
Taylor does a particular service by recording the observations of Michael Oatley, the MI6 man who established ultra-secret channels of communication with the IRA. Oatley's impression of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness is fascinating:
I was considerably impressed by his intelligence and firmness of manner. It was rather like talking to a middle-ranking army officer in one of the tougher regiments like the Paras or the SAS.Taylor is also good on the murkier side of intelligence operations, especially the penetration of loyalist assassination groups by security agents. Some of these, particularly Brian Nelson, rose to senior positions. This raises the question of whether elements in military intelligence aimed to break these organisations or, in some instances, sought to surreptitiously direct them against republican targets. Taylor sums this up with the judgement that the Nelson case raised disturbing questions about how far up the intelligence chain collusion between loyalists and the military went.--David McKittrick --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'As a means of understanding what has been going on in Ulster for the past thirty-two years, nothing better than these programmes has ever been made.' -- Chris Dunkley, Financial Times
'Taylor's series can be seen as the most comprehensive and important televisual record of the Troubles to date.' -- Will Self, Independent on Sunday --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Factual, frank accounts from mouths involved in some of the most secret operations and heinous crimes of the last 30 years merge well with an analysis of cause and effect which would do an emeritus historian proud.
If you enjoyed his two previous offerings in this genre, you'll love this. If you haven't read much about it and are looking for a highly readable jaunt in the mire of contemporary Irish politics, Taylor is most definitely your man.
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