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Stakeknife: Britain's Secret Agents in Ireland Paperback – 18 Feb 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: O'Brien Press (18 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0862788439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862788438
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A sequence worthy of Catch-22 has the same agency employing agents on both sides, knocking off each other, so that one is left wondering who was really running the war, and for whose benefit. But then, Catch-22 was farce -- this is serious business, and murder.' (Senator Maurice Hayes Irish Independent)

About the Author

Greg Harkin is the Belfast journalist who broke the Stakeknife story.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Recommended. One of the authors Martin Ingram(a pseudonym) was a member of the FRU(Force Research Unit),a british military intelligence outfit which recruited informers within northern irelands paramilitary organisations. This book looks at the cases of many informers but has most details of the 2 most famous. After chapters on the authors FRU training in recruiting and running informers,we get a number of chapters on STAKEKNIFE. This informers name has been in the public domain for nearly a year,and the book confirms his identity. STAKEKNIFE was the supreme irony. He was the deputy of the Irish Republican Army's internal security unit(the so called nutting squad),which was tasked with finding informers within the IRA. It lists 35 alleged Informants who were executed by stakeknife,so as to maintain his cover within the IRA. The book also confirms the identity of other informers,some are named,others are given pseudonyms whilst their activities are described. There are a number of chapters on Brian Nelson,who infiltrated the loyalist/protestant Ulster Defence Association. Great value.I recommend this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have only read the first few pages of this and already I feel like putting it down.
It is full of inaccuracies and, to be frank, bias and nonsense.
For example, the Intelligence Corps were in Templar Barracks way before 1990,
the author, trying to make himself sound a 'jack the lad', says that he failed three Intelligence Corps exams due to his wild socialising,the truth is, if you failed more than one exam you were rejected from the Intelligence Corps.
The incident where he says he and his buddy dismantled a desk to steal the keys, which led to the question papers,
is actually derived from a totally different incident within one of the FRU detachments, where someone surreptitiously dismantled a desk for other reasons.
I could say more but it would be pointless, a bit like this book.

UPDATE

I have now read the entire book.
Ingram is what is termed within the intelligence community as a 'walter mitty'.
He is a fantasist, full of his own self importance.
Sure, he was in the FRU, but he was a minnow in a large pond, a minor player.
His career was notable by its mediocrity.
If it is a cold and damp winters day, warm yourself up by burning this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Do not want to enter into the was he / wasn't he an agent debate and I will leave judgement on the rights and wrongs of the actions in the book for the individual reader to determine for themselves. My main complaint with this book was the tone and the style of writing. The subject matter - ones opinion and viewpoint to oneside - is fascinating but I found that it was let down by a style that was bitty, text that was poorly written. The result of this was that I found it more of a slog to get through than I had anticipated. A shame really, but I would still say that this book is worthy of a read.
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Format: Paperback
I've read a number of books about the 'Dirty War' in Northern Ireland, and this ranks right at the top of the list Most books on this subject concentrate on the links between the RUC/MI5/FRU etc and Loyalist Paramilitarys but this deals mainly with the link between the Security Services and the IRA (although there is a chapter devoted to Brian Nelson and the UDA)

What this book shows is that once someone decides to become an informer('Tout')they almost inevitably sign their own death warrant The information they pass on to the Security Services via their 'handlers' will identify them sooner or later to the organisation they are 'betraying' (UNLESS they are very high up in the organisation and able to 'set up' colleagues)

They will then be interrogated by the IRA's internal Security Unit and usually killed Despite assurances from the Security Services that they will be whisked away to the mainland with a false identity and £30,000 a year for life, the reality is that once an Agent's cover is blown they are of no further use to security services and are 'expendable'

As Stakeknife ran the Internal Security Unit (The 'Nutting Squad') he was in a unique position to say who lived or died

What this book shows quite clearly is that Stakeknife was not only used to gather information about IRA operations but also to torture and assasinate other British Agents to protect his own identity, and to 'dispose' of Agents surplus to British requirements He may have used people for his own ends but he was also used, unwittingly to him, by the security services

A number of 'innocent' people were killed including a well known Derry Republican who was tortured for seven weeks by the IRA's Internal Security 'Nutting' squad, run by Stakeknife, before he
...Read more ›
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This not only gives the story of 2 British agents, one Loyalist the other Republican, their handlers from the British army, and those they murdered, or set up to be murdered, it also goes a long way in explaining why those actions took place. Written by someone who was there during the actions, and who took part in the operating of those agents, it gives a first hand account of how the British army took the fight to the Republicans front door, literally. The first of these agents....Stakeknife....was a close friend of Gerry Adams, and head of the IRA nutting squad. His job was simple, to squeal on IRA members and movements, and to shoot anyone who got close or became a nuisance. This he done on numerous occasions with Gerry's blessing. It must be hard on Republicans to know that many of the men he killed as traitors, were actually not traitors, and they were murdered on the asking of the British army, and with the blessing of the IRA. Confusing?....That`s why it was called the Dirty War, and why the book is so good as it explains why these things happened. Stakeknife is one of the highest ranked Republicans ever to work for the British Government, though i suspect others will come out in time. Many suspect Gerry Adams himself as being a top informer, and the reason why he has lived so long, or why the British army choose to save his life. It would also explain why he is allowed to still openly deny he was ever a member of the IRA, when, with so many agents so close to him, taking orders from him, the British army could prove this to be a lie many times over, leaving him open to prosecution. The one thing you learn most of all, is not to believe everything you hear or see on the news.
As for the other agent, he was a Loyalist UDA intelligence officer.
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