This is an excellent book. Mark Urban is no mug, and he casts a cold, discriminating eye over the security forces' struggle against the IRA. He focuses, in particular, on the alleged "shoot-to-kill" policy of the British Army and RUC. His judgements, though inevitably hedged and cautious (this is, after all, a shadowy world - it is unrealistic to expect definitive conclusions), are not especially favourable. Urban writes from the perspective of someone who expects high standards of the British state. One might argue that this is overly idealistic and that IRA men had it coming to them; but, nonetheless, this account is a useful rejoinder to the more credulous and jingoistic reportage of the popular British press. Those of you less interested in morality and more interested in "boys' tales" will enjoy his account of the SAS's tactics, ethos and selection process.
An excellent book that manages to objectively look at an incredibly complex time in British/Irish history. It provides a succinct analysis of key events, players and the changing priorities of all parties during the period.
One thing I would liked to have seen is possibly a new edition/forward from Mark Urban revisiting what he wrote 20 years ago. That, and the odd sentence written before the completion of the peace process, does occasionally date the book. However, this should not detract from a well researched, closely argued and easy to read book.