Talking to Terrorists: Face to Face with the Enemy Paperback – 1 Sep 2011
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Reviews for ‘Brits: The War against the IRA’:
‘As one has come to expect from Taylor, the research is meticulous, accurate and balanced’ Irish Times
‘Important and impressive’ Sunday Tribune
‘Helps us understand the moment of truth we have now reached in the peace process … could not be more topical’ Irish Independent
‘[A] clear account of a muddled history’ Guardian
About the Author
Peter Taylor is a highly respected BBC investigative journalist who has reported on terrorism for over 35 years. He began his career covering Bloody Sunday, and his Troubles trilogy – ‘Provos’, ‘Loyalists’ and ‘Brits’ – is considered to be the definitive account of the conflict. Following peace in Northern Ireland his focus switched to the new security threat posed by Al Qaeda and he has since presented three television series on the Islamic terror threat: ‘The New Al-Qaeda’, ‘The Age of Terror’ and ‘Generation Jihad’. In 2002 he received an OBE for services to broadcasting, and in 2008 he was awarded the highly prestigious James Cameron Memorial Prize ‘for work as a journalist that combined moral vision and professional integrity’.
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Top Customer Reviews
Taylor's style is generally easy, and he intersperses his narration with curious and amusing co-incidences. My favourite example was the stern San Francisco sherrif who he charmed into co-operation with relations of their shared experiences at the 1957 World Boy Scout Jamboree in Sutton Coldfield.
In the end, his careful and studied practice of explaining but not judging pays off. He has a lot of experience to share and modern-day policy makers would be advised to sit down for a few hours and read this book.
The book begins with a section on the IRA, which introduces the shadowy neutral characters who liased between IRA and British government at times both denied they were talking to the other. Then it turns to Al-Qaeda, which is if anything even more interesting, as Taylor tracks down the young men from Buffalo who ended up in a Bin Laden training camp, for example, and traces the route taken by the contents of the never-exploded fertiliser bombs of 2004. The experiences of a young man who got to training camp and realised he'd made a dreadful mistake are also intriguing.
Taylor's main thesis seems to be that these 'terrorists' are mainly young men who are not crazy or psychotic and who have families that love them, but who are slowly converted to the idea of jihad by persuasive individuals who know how to focus attention on the sufferings of Muslims worldwide, such as in Gaza or Chechnya. Whether or not you agree with this, it makes for interesting reading. He talks to mothers, schoolteachers, spies and FBI men in his quest to understand the phenomenon, and the level of detail is impressive.Read more ›
Taylor goes behind the officially stated political positions to discover the origins of the peace process in Northern Ireland. While the British government was adamant it would not negotiate with terrorists, obscure lines of communication were maintained through Brendan Duffy and Michael Oatley and occasional face to face meeting between IRA leaders and British Government ministers.Read more ›