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UVF: Behind the Mask Paperback – 12 Jun 2017
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'Great historians are good storytellers and Aaron Edwards belongs in this class. His account of the modern UVF s history is told without embellishment. Facts are carefully woven into the troubles historical tapestry ... UVF: Behind The Mask is an excellent addition to the written history of the troubles.' --Martin Dillon, Author and Former Journalist
'I have no doubt that ... this new book by Aaron Edwards will be seen as the definitive history of the loyalist paramilitary grouping known as the Ulster Volunteer Force.' --Hugh Jordan, Sunday World
'Aaron Edwards' work is easily the best account of this little known but possibly most successful terror group of the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'.' --Jim Cusack, Irish Independent
About the Author
Aaron Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He is the author of several books, including 'A History of the Northern Ireland Labour Party' (2009) and 'Mad Mitch's Tribal Law: Aden and the End of Empire' (2014).
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Fine for those really interested but as a book in itself - not good.
However, the main focus of Aaron Edwards’ detailed and extensively referenced book is the loyalist paramilitary group that came into existence in the autumn of 1965 and adopted the name of the former UVF. It was intended to be a counter-force to a perceived threat from the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which wanted Northern Ireland to be detached from the UK and incorporated in a united Ireland. Ironically, though, the IRA wasn’t militarily active at that point. Furthermore, it was violence from the loyalist side (e.g. in opposition to civil rights demands by the disadvantaged Catholic minority in Northern Ireland) that put pressure on the IRA to become more active. In late 1969, the IRA split into two separate organizations, the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA. The latter soon became the most deadly player in the Irish Troubles.
As Edwards makes clear, another irony about this recent and turbulent period in British and Irish history is that although the UVF was responsible for many brutal murders, its political representatives, in the Progressive Unionist Party, came to articulate policy ideas that were more liberal and inclusive than those of the more conservative, mainstream unionist parties.
Unfortunately, I found some of the passages in Edwards’ book rather confusing.
I noticed two historical errors on p. 154, which make me wonder how accurate the rest of the book is:
(1) An attack, by the Provisional IRA, on 27th August 1979, resulted in the death of Lord Louis Mountbatten (a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II). Edwards states that this occurred in Donegal, which is in the Republic of Ireland. But he’s got the county wrong. The incident, which entailed the explosion of a bomb on a boat, occurred off the coast of Mullaghmore, COUNTY SLIGO. (Edwards fails to mention that two teenage boys and an 83-year-old woman were also fatally injured, and that three other people were badly hurt.)
(2) Later that same day (27th August 1979), two remotely controlled bombs were detonated by the Provisional IRA near Warrenpoint in County Down, Northern Ireland. Edwards states that, “Eighteen soldiers were killed instantly”. However, the two explosions occurred about half an hour apart, with six deaths resulting from the first blast. Anticipating that after the first explosion, an incident command post would be established in a gatehouse on the opposite side of the road, the terrorists had placed their second bomb there. It claimed 12 lives.
Some good research, granted, but disappointing overall.
I would say this would be excellent source material for a definitive history of the UVF, which is yet to be written.
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