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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 April 2002
Outside of anything eamonn mccann has written this is one of the best books on the troubles.
It's written on the inside track and it's really, really good - well researched, insightful, truthful and candid, it doesn't try to rewrite history or glamourise things and it's beautifully written.
It was very obviously written with extensive co-operation from the guys who were in long kesh when this went down and it has an authenticity and a palpable atmosphere very few other books on the troubles will hope to achieve.
Beresford was able to access the messages smuggled between the POW's and 'Brownie' the contact with the republican leadership on the outside... and the messages are interspersed throughout the book and contrasted against events providing an illuminating, utterly compelling and rarely seen glimpse not just into to unfolding of the events in the kesh during the hunger strike but into the republican psyche.
A fitting tribute to the hunger strikers and a highly recommended book for anyone intrested the 6 counties - whatever political cloth their coat may be cut from.
Oh yes - and remarkably the author is english.
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on 25 June 2007
Being 11 and living through the troubles we had a lot of upheaval around this time. My Dad was in the british Army and my mum was UDR. I didn't quite understand what was going on at the time and at the age of 17 I read this. I didn't agree with what they were doing and I didn't understand why but after reading this it all became clear. A facinating insight into the goings on of Long Kesh and the hungerstrikers
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on 22 September 2010
I only recently became interested in the northern irish 'troubles', and found this book most informative. at the time i was only a small child so didn't really know any details, so this book was a must read, i found myself thinking and digesting the information even when i wasn't reading it. it's definately thought provoking, a fantastic read that is impossible to put down.
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on 2 February 2016
Was really interesting although perhaps more so if you can relate to it and grew up in Ireland with all the troubles. Those men really were passionate about what they believed in and obviously went through hell, as did a lot of people on both sides at the time.
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on 25 April 2015
A very clear historical , and sadly true coverage of one of the most disturbing events, in modern Irish history.Bereford has been able to pass this information over for us all to read,vital to everyone to read .Excellent book.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2014
"An exercise in journalism" is how the author describes his own book written only six years after the events described (and never updated). It is not a historical work, there is no index or reference source list. The title itself refers to a 'Story' not a 'History'. There is a huge reliance on the cigarette-paper 'comms' that were inserted in every orifice and trafficked in and out of the Maze. As the book progresses, one cannot help wondering whether some of those 'comms' were either edited or written with the intention of future dissemination to a wider audience.

Mr Beresford makes it clear at the outset that he is using the 'language' of Republicanism. As a result, the tone of the book feels sympathetic to the hunger-strikers and their cause.

It is split into ten substantial chapters which very broadly revolve around the ten dead men. For the non-committed reader, this insight into the 'other' nine men, their experience and their autobiographical details is revealing.

The book also gives backgroundt to the causes of the strike whilst not shying away from the debate over whether the strikers were using their own volition, or were acting, to use a rather punchy quote, as 'human armalites'. There is great insight into the protracted, and ultimately crucial, issue of whether the families had the right to take their loved ones 'off'.

Post 1987, this 'journalistic account' still stands up remarkably well, The reader can use it as a springboard for their own further 'historical' research using the benefit of over 30 years of hindsight.
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on 19 July 2012
The book contains many of the 'comms' used by the prisoners and the IRA Army Council. Very useful if you want to get to the heart of the debate.
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on 30 August 2013
I rate this book good as i got it in good time & i recomend this to anybody that wants to know what really happend in N ireland.
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on 15 September 2014
It was an excellent read! I defiently reccomend it.
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on 9 April 2009
David Beresford was the "Guardian" correspondent in Belfast during the time of the H Block hunger strikes in 1980-81.He has had remarkable access to some secret republican archive-though according to Ed Maloney,his access was restricted and censored,probably without his knowledge.
The IRA/INLA prisoners communicated with the outside world though what they called "comms",messages written on cigarette papers and then smuggled out by visitors.This is the archive that Beresford tapped into,and it is most revealing.
He also has interviewed overground leaders in Britain and Ireland,including Catholic Church leaders,and his portrait of them is far from flattering.He recounts how Cardinal O'Fiach once complained to Margaret Thatcher about British press coverage of him, and Mrs. devastatingly said "Well,have you seen what they write about me?"
The claustrophobic nightmare of the H Blocks is well depicted,and at the end,Beresford quotes a comm from an IRA prisoner talking about the need to intensify and develop political activity-even to the extent of imagining a republican MP putting accross Sinn Fein arguments in the House of Commons.Knowingly or unknowingly,this (anonymous)prisoner foresaw the IRA/Sinn Fein strategy from 1981 onwards,which culminated in the 1997 Good Friday agreements,even if Gerry Adams never made it to Westminister in the end.
I read this when it first came out in 1987,I don't know if they're is a new edition.It is great reportage,well worth reading whatever your position on Northern Ireland.Also,in just two years,the British official records of this period will become available to scholars-maybe that is the time for a new edition.
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