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The IRA has been a much richer, more complexly layered, and more protean organization than is frequently recognized. It is also more open to balanced examination now--at the end of its long war in the north of Ireland--than it was even a few years ago. Richard English's brilliant book offers a detailed history of the IRA, providing invaluable historical depth to our underst The IRA has been a much richer, more complexly layered, and more protean organization than is frequently recognized. It is also more open to balanced examination now--at the end of its long war in the north of Ireland--than it was even a few years ago. Richard English's brilliant book offers a detailed history of the IRA, providing invaluable historical depth to our understanding of the modern-day Provisionals, the more militant wing formed in 1969 dedicated to the removal of the British Government from Northern Ireland and the reunification of Ireland. English examines the dramatic events of the Easter Rising in 1916 and the bitter guerrilla war of 1919-21, the partitioning of Ireland in the 1920s, and the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Here, too, are the IRA campaigns in Northern Ireland and Britain from the 1930s through the 1960s. He shows how the Provisionals were born out of the turbulence generated by the 1960s civil rights movement, and examines the escalating violence that introduced British troops to the streets of Northern Ireland. He also examines the split in the IRA that produced the Provisionals, the introduction of internment in 1971, and the tragedy of Bloody Sunday in 1972. He then discusses the struggle over political status, culminating in the Hunger Strikes of the early 1980s and describes the Provisionals' emergence as a more committed political force throughout that decade, a politicization that made possible the peace process that has developed over the last decade. English offers a dazzling synthesis of the motives, actions and consequences of the IRA. Neither romanticizing the IRA nor condemning them outright, this is a balanced, definitive treatment of one of the world's leading revolutionary movements.


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The IRA has been a much richer, more complexly layered, and more protean organization than is frequently recognized. It is also more open to balanced examination now--at the end of its long war in the north of Ireland--than it was even a few years ago. Richard English's brilliant book offers a detailed history of the IRA, providing invaluable historical depth to our underst The IRA has been a much richer, more complexly layered, and more protean organization than is frequently recognized. It is also more open to balanced examination now--at the end of its long war in the north of Ireland--than it was even a few years ago. Richard English's brilliant book offers a detailed history of the IRA, providing invaluable historical depth to our understanding of the modern-day Provisionals, the more militant wing formed in 1969 dedicated to the removal of the British Government from Northern Ireland and the reunification of Ireland. English examines the dramatic events of the Easter Rising in 1916 and the bitter guerrilla war of 1919-21, the partitioning of Ireland in the 1920s, and the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Here, too, are the IRA campaigns in Northern Ireland and Britain from the 1930s through the 1960s. He shows how the Provisionals were born out of the turbulence generated by the 1960s civil rights movement, and examines the escalating violence that introduced British troops to the streets of Northern Ireland. He also examines the split in the IRA that produced the Provisionals, the introduction of internment in 1971, and the tragedy of Bloody Sunday in 1972. He then discusses the struggle over political status, culminating in the Hunger Strikes of the early 1980s and describes the Provisionals' emergence as a more committed political force throughout that decade, a politicization that made possible the peace process that has developed over the last decade. English offers a dazzling synthesis of the motives, actions and consequences of the IRA. Neither romanticizing the IRA nor condemning them outright, this is a balanced, definitive treatment of one of the world's leading revolutionary movements.

30 review for Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Schmidt

    That a guy surnamed English came to write a history of the Irish Republican Army, its antecedants and splinters, is a lovely irony (one wonders how he prefaced his interview requests). Yet despite such an apparent setback, Richard English has produced one of the best comprehensive overviews of one of the defining conflicts of the past century, one that can only partly be read as a resistance to colonialism because of the very different approaches of the republicans and unionists to Britain, an e That a guy surnamed English came to write a history of the Irish Republican Army, its antecedants and splinters, is a lovely irony (one wonders how he prefaced his interview requests). Yet despite such an apparent setback, Richard English has produced one of the best comprehensive overviews of one of the defining conflicts of the past century, one that can only partly be read as a resistance to colonialism because of the very different approaches of the republicans and unionists to Britain, an enduring fracture that in some ways echoes that of Afrikaners and "English-speaking white South Africans" to Britain in the same era - except without the territorial division. English notes that in Ireland in 1931, a tiny revolutionary socialist group split from the IRA: named Free Ireland (Saor Eire), it was founded in part on the Easter Rising martyr James Connolly's revolutionary syndicalist principles, but made little headway, and in 1933, the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) was founded by adherents of Stalin. This was followed in 1934 by the radical socialist Republican Congress (RC) that survived into the late 1930s, but Irish republicanism was remained dominated by both electoralism and extra-parliamentary militarism. I'm not a huge IRA fan, but in the 1970s there was a certain resonance between the struggles in SA and Ireland - and in Ireland, even a libertarian socialist element: a splinter off the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) in the South (not the better known Provisional IRA in the North) formed a short-lived Dublin Anarchist Group; several members wound up behind bars following a series of armed actions, and the remaining members merged with the Belfast Anarchist Collective to form an Anarchist Workers' Alliance. All fringe stuff unfortunately, as authoritarian nationalist politics have tended to dominate in both SA and Ireland/Northern Ireland today. Anyway, a libertarian socialist/anarchist approach to Irish history is here: http://www.wsm.ie/story/702

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brett C

    This awesome book offers a detailed history of the IRA and giving understanding of the modern-day Provisionals. Follow the Easter Rising in 1916 and the bitter guerrilla war of 1919-21, the partitioning of Ireland in the 1920s, and the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. The IRA extended it campaigns into Northern Ireland and Britain from the 1930s through the 1960s. Read the rise of the Provisionals by the 1960s civil rights movement and the escalating violence in the streets of Northern Ireland. Also This awesome book offers a detailed history of the IRA and giving understanding of the modern-day Provisionals. Follow the Easter Rising in 1916 and the bitter guerrilla war of 1919-21, the partitioning of Ireland in the 1920s, and the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. The IRA extended it campaigns into Northern Ireland and Britain from the 1930s through the 1960s. Read the rise of the Provisionals by the 1960s civil rights movement and the escalating violence in the streets of Northern Ireland. Also examined in this book are the Hunger Strikes during the 80s. A very informative book in my opinion.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Deirdre

    Having grown up through the early part of the war in the North of Ireland and studied this period of Irish history at an academic level, I would attest that this is one of the most accurately researched, balanced and comprehensive accounts of the Irish Republican Army which I have read to date. It should be studied by anyone with an interest in Irish politics. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Miceál

    I'm really impressed with how straightforward this book is, both in terms of historical chronology and analysis. It's very easy to follow along, and even though I have a background in the subject I think it would remain easy to follow even if you had only a basic working knowledge. It's not an easy subject to keep streamlined, but there's nowhere in this book that it seems to lose clarity or get bogged down in unnecessary details, and there's no skipping back and forth in time or anything like t I'm really impressed with how straightforward this book is, both in terms of historical chronology and analysis. It's very easy to follow along, and even though I have a background in the subject I think it would remain easy to follow even if you had only a basic working knowledge. It's not an easy subject to keep streamlined, but there's nowhere in this book that it seems to lose clarity or get bogged down in unnecessary details, and there's no skipping back and forth in time or anything like that. I'd say it's as simple of a breakdown on the history that you're ever going to get, so it would be a good place for beginners to jump off from. On that all-important topic when it comes to books like this: neutrality. For the most part, this book is impressively neutral. It presents the facts, but even when facts point to one point of view or another, there's not sense of gotcha or any sort of smug undertone of righteousness or anything like that, which is something I occasionally find in any kind of historical non-fiction where there's great political divide. It's even more impressive when you consider that the author is a Protestant; he shows a great deal of open-mindedness just from tackling the subject from the angle that he does, and while he admits he's not personally persuaded by the arguments he found, he still presents them clearly (using the words of others when he can) and doesn't derail into any kind personal argument. However, there are a few things here and there that didn't sit well with me, and for that reason it's not quite a five-star. They're not huge glaring issues, but in my opinion it ever so slightly damages the book's integrity. (view spoiler)[I am referring, of course, to the personal jab at Mairéad Farrell's love life, citing a former lover to, as far as I can tell, undermine people's view of her as a feminist. It was not necessary or appropriate; I do not know why you would cite someone's ex as a sidenote in a book that has nothing to do with her personal life. It rubbed me up the wrong way, and she is the only person targeted like this. Some hidden beef? Some kind of misogyny? I don't say such things lightly, but this stuck out like a sore thumb and made me much more critical reading it afterwards. (hide spoiler)] I don't agree with everything I read; I believe there are some parts in the conclusion especially where English is perhaps being deliberately dense, but the conclusion is where you expect an author to voice a little personal reflection and overall we were in agreement. This is a very complex subject and I doubt any two people are going to agree 100%. The fact there were a few things I disagreed on in the conclusion doesn't change the fact that this is a meticulously researched and well-presented book (aside from the aforementioned hiccup) and as a history, it's pretty solid. It's accessible to read and manages to avoid being dry. I'd say it's a good a starting place as any, and obviously the more you go on to learn, the more you can analyse this and see how it holds up. For people just looking for an overview that goes a deeper than the information that you can find online, this would be a good place to find it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    3.75. a fantastic achievement that forwards scholarship but disorganized and needed stronger editing to tease out the themes English suddenly introduces in the conclusion (!)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebekka Steg

    Very interesting and perceptive books that shows both sides of the troubles in northern Ireland. The author manages to stay neutral throughout the book while telling IRA's story. Very interesting and perceptive books that shows both sides of the troubles in northern Ireland. The author manages to stay neutral throughout the book while telling IRA's story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Not bad but the random bashing of socialism was really weird/unacademic.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This is an essential book for anyone interested in the Northern Irish Troubles. It should not be considered as a full history of the Troubles, but is a must-read. English meticulously charts the origins and history of the IRA. He neither condemns nor glorifies the violence, and in fact avoids much discussion of the violence, per se. Of course, he cannot discuss the IRA without discussing paramilitary action, and he frequently does, but his focus tends to be on socio-political trends within the IR This is an essential book for anyone interested in the Northern Irish Troubles. It should not be considered as a full history of the Troubles, but is a must-read. English meticulously charts the origins and history of the IRA. He neither condemns nor glorifies the violence, and in fact avoids much discussion of the violence, per se. Of course, he cannot discuss the IRA without discussing paramilitary action, and he frequently does, but his focus tends to be on socio-political trends within the IRA, and between the IRA and Sinn Fein. This is the reason that it's only part of a good reading list on the Troubles. It doesn't address the loyalist paramilitaries, understandably, and rarely discussed the violence in detail without a connection to political and strategic shifts within the IRA. But it is a fair, accurate book that reads very easily, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Irish nationalism in the 20th century.

  9. 4 out of 5

    René Toet

    'Armed Strugle: The History of The IRA" is an immense, extensively researched, piece of work regarding the Irish Revolution, the Troubles and the rise of the IRA. The book tells the interesting story of the long conflict between the English and Irish during and after Ireland's and Northern Ireland's (quasi-colonial) subjugation to England. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the nationalist versus unionist struggle. Next to this, the book also gives insight into the reason 'Armed Strugle: The History of The IRA" is an immense, extensively researched, piece of work regarding the Irish Revolution, the Troubles and the rise of the IRA. The book tells the interesting story of the long conflict between the English and Irish during and after Ireland's and Northern Ireland's (quasi-colonial) subjugation to England. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the nationalist versus unionist struggle. Next to this, the book also gives insight into the reasons behind - and the consequences of - organized armed revolt or terrorism: all from a standpoint of nationalistic, religious and (institutionalised) discrimination. Very contemporary topics indeed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jared Miller

    This is a very well researched book. It has a lot of good information in it and is very well written I wish there where half stars so I could give it a 4.5 Out of 5. At times it could be a little dry. And although the chapters and sections are laid out very well, it jumps around inside the chapters making it sometimes hard to get the chronology at first look.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter Martin

    A Great Read This book will become a reference books for all who are interested in Irish Independence in modern history. Well balanced.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grant Burgman

    As thorough a telling as any history I’ve read. Every side is given their shake and the amount of research here is IMMENSE. While I’m more sympathetic to the IRA than English is (there are heroes here, namely Theo Wolfe Tone, Michael Collins, James Connolly, Bobby Sands), there is no arguing with his representation of IRA violence as continually ill conceived and unnecessary. It becomes abundantly clear as the book goes on that the IRA were fighting ostensibly against the British, but for an idea As thorough a telling as any history I’ve read. Every side is given their shake and the amount of research here is IMMENSE. While I’m more sympathetic to the IRA than English is (there are heroes here, namely Theo Wolfe Tone, Michael Collins, James Connolly, Bobby Sands), there is no arguing with his representation of IRA violence as continually ill conceived and unnecessary. It becomes abundantly clear as the book goes on that the IRA were fighting ostensibly against the British, but for an ideal that would "save" people who didn’t and don’t want it. The sectarian Irish state brought on by British colonization is a tragedy, yes. But it’s a tragedy that has aged enough to simply become reality. One that the IRA waited far too long to accept instead of war against. There is a tremendous quote from former Provisional IRA man Danny Morrison that sums this up: "Don’t be talking about Northern Ireland being artificial; every country was made artificially, all nations are artificial. It’s been seventy years: Israel has a right to exist — we’re living longer than them [i.e. Northern Ireland has existed longer than Israel, and should likewise have a right to exist]. Okay, you didn’t get civil rights but we’re sorry, we want to have a new start.’" The quip about civil rights is eh but the sentiment about NI is right. It’s a state like any other. One that, as English makes clear, is much happier to exist as is than as the IRA conceives it. While the early IRAs ambitions were admirable, it becomes increasingly clear that their war was based more in their own blind passion and dogmatism than reality (though the British are villainous, right to the end, no doubt). It’s sad to see a re-emergence of even inklings of this violence. It’s important to remember that the British are the true villains here. They created the divide. But, it’s equally important to remember that generations of people have now lived in, grown in, identified with these nations full of their own personalities and customs and that simply is the reality of things. Had a great conversation with a Pakistani friend about the lingering impact of colonialism (Yeah, heavy stuff) and she said "at a certain point the people have no choice but to fight for their autonomy; it’s human nature." And I agree. It’s human nature for Ireland AND Northern Ireland. A unified Ireland is one in a long list of casualties of the British empire, and it is a shame. But that’s the past, and the people of both Irelands right now have a right to determine their own lives, their own autonomy. It’s only human nature, it’s only right.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kiel

    A deep study of a devastating political clash, this book nuances the complicated and often violent history of Irish Republican Army. I’ve been on the hunt for context of independence moments because of my current locale. All I can say about what I learned from this book is I’m glad I’m not in the middle of a situation like the one described. There are some similarities, but many differences. The religious and ethnic closeness of the enemies in this struggle make it dark in a manner similar to ot A deep study of a devastating political clash, this book nuances the complicated and often violent history of Irish Republican Army. I’ve been on the hunt for context of independence moments because of my current locale. All I can say about what I learned from this book is I’m glad I’m not in the middle of a situation like the one described. There are some similarities, but many differences. The religious and ethnic closeness of the enemies in this struggle make it dark in a manner similar to other civil wars through history. The often harrowing hunger strikes during imprisonment are powerful, but the turn toward Marxist ideals, the partnerships with Libya and Nazis at different times, making any enemies of England their friend, is hard to stomach. The book is very well written, and very even handed. I remember the dissolution of the IRA but didn’t realize the impact 9/11 and the Columbian drug war had on hurting the IRA’s quest for global legitimacy, placing them on dangerous footing because of their penchant for unmitigated violent acts and loose political partnerships, however otherwise noble their causes may have been. National identity, religion, and self rule are powerful and fragile things. Imperial colonialism and totalitarianism are still realities being sorted out in our complexed and ever complicating times. 492 pages or 20 hours of war, consequence, nationalism, and ever changing winds and whims of history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wallyeast

    From my point of view, this was an even-handed, impartial look at the history of the Irish Republican Army up through 2002ish. It does a great job of explaining the point of the IRA without glorifying the violence. It also does a fair job of explaining the other side, too, both the unionists and the British. It includes in-depth discussions of what people read and believed, how leaders perceived situations, and how those two interacted. One thing I found interesting was that in the 1960s, Cathol From my point of view, this was an even-handed, impartial look at the history of the Irish Republican Army up through 2002ish. It does a great job of explaining the point of the IRA without glorifying the violence. It also does a fair job of explaining the other side, too, both the unionists and the British. It includes in-depth discussions of what people read and believed, how leaders perceived situations, and how those two interacted. One thing I found interesting was that in the 1960s, Catholics in the North looked to the Civil Rights movement in the US for inspiration, especially, the nonviolent tactics. Those tactics just weren't as effective in this instance. There was a discussion of the hunger strikes, the peace process in the 1990s (and why the IRA switched from violence to political efforts), and a good look at the history of the IRA before The Troubles. The book is extremely well-researched with footnotes galore. This was far from personal recollection, so don't read it for that. It's an academic study of the subject.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian Olinger

    Fact-Based, academic read Mr. English’s book provides an excellent historical analysis of the history of Ireland. The challenge of such a work is the polarization of such a topic depending on one’s political proclivities. Also, sometimes these types of books become a wishy-washy “both sides-ism” that ends up providing no real insight. Rather, Mr. English dives head first into all aspects and what the reader comes away with is a view of a complex, messy past in which political progress was made at Fact-Based, academic read Mr. English’s book provides an excellent historical analysis of the history of Ireland. The challenge of such a work is the polarization of such a topic depending on one’s political proclivities. Also, sometimes these types of books become a wishy-washy “both sides-ism” that ends up providing no real insight. Rather, Mr. English dives head first into all aspects and what the reader comes away with is a view of a complex, messy past in which political progress was made at enormous social cost. A particular area the book does well is framing the macro-level, conceptual political topics with personal individual tragedy (murders of civilians, horrific injuries, massive suffering) to remind us that numbers and figures are people’s lives. What this book is not is a deep dive into the people or necessarily the key markers of history. Also, the author is not driven to write a spell-binding narrative. I would recommend only for someone with a real interest in Irish history.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    Richard English begins his history of the IRA with an account of the 1916 Easter Rising when 1,600 Irish nationalists, members of the Irish Volunteers led by the Irish Republican Brotherhood seized the Dublin General Post Office and a number of other official buildings. They called on all Irish patriots to throw off the bonds of British control of their homeland. It was a typically grand gesture, doomed from the start and would become almost a paradigm for future actions against the British. The Richard English begins his history of the IRA with an account of the 1916 Easter Rising when 1,600 Irish nationalists, members of the Irish Volunteers led by the Irish Republican Brotherhood seized the Dublin General Post Office and a number of other official buildings. They called on all Irish patriots to throw off the bonds of British control of their homeland. It was a typically grand gesture, doomed from the start and would become almost a paradigm for future actions against the British. The Easter Rising was well planned tactically until a shipment of arms was discovered and captured by the Royal Navy. An attempt to countermand the orders for the Rising was only partly successful and caused confusion, especially outside Dublin.so that planned uprisings in Cork and Limerick to support the Dublin action didn’t happen. It was a disaster strategically a complete failure at the time, but became the most important part of Republican mythology. The IRB leadership assumed they would be supported by mass action of Irish people but there was little empathy for the rebels—indeed the captured rebels were pelted with stones by those watching them being marched to prison while their British Army captors were given cups of tea. While overestimating the readiness of the Irish to throw off the yoke of monarchy, the rebels fatally underestimated the response of the British who were faced with an armed insurrection in the homeland while sending thousands of soldiers to their deaths in the meat grinder of trench warfare in France and Belgium. On the British side it was also typical of how badly the Irish problem would continue to be handled. British military intelligence missed the preparations completely and was taken by surprise; the Metropolitan Police Special Branch (initially the Special Irish Branch), founded specifically to combat the Irish Republican Brotherhood, gather intelligence and forestall terrorist acts, were equally unaware of the plans for the rebellion. The majority of people, even in Ireland, felt that the rebels had been disloyal and treacherous and had stabbed England in the back during its time of greatest need. However this changed in a few days with the execution of 15 of the captured fighters. Some were leaders of the Rising, others were not but all of them were taken from their cells and stood in front of a firing squad in the Stonebreakers’ Yard at Kilmainham Gaol. James Connolly, mortally injured in the fighting and a few days from death, couldn’t stand so he was tied to a chair and shot. Instead of sending the intended message to potential rebels that the British Empire would crush them without pity, the executions created a new generation of martyrs for Ireland and became a rallying point for the Republican cause. So there is no question that prior to 1921 (the creation of the Irish Free State) or 1949 (the founding of the Republic of Ireland) that the Republicans were engaged in an anti-colonial struggle—Ireland was a colony ruled by an appointed Lord Lieutenant and controlled from London. But the main themes of “Armed Struggle” involve the post-independence activities of the Provisional IRA and its political wing, Sinn Fein. Even with the independence of the 26 counties of the Republic the leadership of the PIRA continued their campaign of bombing, ambush and assassination in order to “unite” Ireland—i.e. make the six counties of Northern Ireland part of the Republic. English shows how unlikely—actually impossible—this would be. The Protestant majority of Northern Ireland was happy with being subjects of the queen and and acknowledged part of Great Britain. The idea of a united Ireland was repugnant to them, feeling they would be adrift in a Catholic sea with reduced power and no chance of redress for abuses at the hands of the majority. The myth that the Provisionals promulgated (and may have believed) was that once the British withdrew from the north, the population there—religiously, economically and culturally different from the rest of the island—would want to be ruled by Dublin. The title, “Armed Struggle” comments on how the PIRA and their supporters, particularly in the United States, tried to equate their situation with that of the Algerian War of Independence from France or the South African battle against the apartheid regime. They tried cover themselves with the mantle of freedom fighters but the Irish question had been settled and Ireland would (and will) remain divided between the Republican South and the Unionist North who are more English than kippers for breakfast, more English than the Queen. Even the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland favor continued union with England. “Armed Struggle” is exhaustively researched and well written. It reads as a popular history but English’s decades long immersion in the sources is apparent—his bibliography may list everything ever published in English regarding the IRA. The terrific bibliography points out the one outrageous flaw in this book as published as a Kindle e-book, a flaw that makes this edition of “Armed Struggle” worth less than the list price. There are no chapters, and no table of contents. It is all but impossible to find anything---the “Go to” function allows the reader to go to the following pages: Cover, Front Matter, Preface, Chapter One, Back Cover. The entire book, including bibliography, index, pictures, etc. is stuffed into one digital blob. It is more like a review copy or advance reader’s copy than a completed text from a reputable publisher. The publisher, Oxford University Press, not unfamiliar with the necessities of digital formatting, did a slapdash and amateurish job with this electronic book. If I could give it one star for presentation and four for content I would.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    A dense, scholarly, and seemingly very fair history. Richard English, at least in my estimation, succeeds in his attempt "to look seriously and in all its complex detail at an organization that most people—supporters age critics alike—have tended to approach with fairly simple assumptions and with less than rigorous analysis." That said—unlike, say, Patrick Radden Keefe's 2019 book, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland—this is definitely not a lengthy piece of invest A dense, scholarly, and seemingly very fair history. Richard English, at least in my estimation, succeeds in his attempt "to look seriously and in all its complex detail at an organization that most people—supporters age critics alike—have tended to approach with fairly simple assumptions and with less than rigorous analysis." That said—unlike, say, Patrick Radden Keefe's 2019 book, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland—this is definitely not a lengthy piece of investigative journalism nor a true crime book. It can be a chore to get through at times. But it's very informative and definitely worth the effort if you're interested in a scholarly history of the IRA.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zzz Z

    Clearly well-researched, but the actual writing was a slog to get through. Every sentence was clearly packed to the brim with information, which makes it ponderous to read. Many contained multiple asides, making it much more difficult to follow. In addition, the structure of the book is so broad as to be almost useless from a narrative prospective. The book assumes you're already pretty well versed in the history of the IRA, and spends most of the space illustrating small anecdotes which would be Clearly well-researched, but the actual writing was a slog to get through. Every sentence was clearly packed to the brim with information, which makes it ponderous to read. Many contained multiple asides, making it much more difficult to follow. In addition, the structure of the book is so broad as to be almost useless from a narrative prospective. The book assumes you're already pretty well versed in the history of the IRA, and spends most of the space illustrating small anecdotes which would be much more illuminating and interesting with a more solid background.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Maddock

    Plenty of facts and data however pretty heavy-going and written in a fashion that is hard to fully immerse yourself in. It’s like it’s not really written with the objective of engaging the reader - rather just to get the facts and opinions down on paper.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aled Owen-Thomas

    As a Welshman who lives in Ireland who's old enough to remember the Sinn Féin broadcast ban I thought this was a book that I needed to read. Balanced, clearly laid out and engrossing. I wasn't expecting to find the book so interesting. As a Welshman who lives in Ireland who's old enough to remember the Sinn Féin broadcast ban I thought this was a book that I needed to read. Balanced, clearly laid out and engrossing. I wasn't expecting to find the book so interesting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Coes

    Comprehensive examination of all things IRA. Definitely recommend this for anyone interested in the names, the history, the motives, the angles, the good the bad & the ugly. Nothing is ever so simple as surface appearances and this books dives deep into the gritty details.

  22. 4 out of 5

    A.J.

    A little dry compared to other books on the subject matter, but a great choice for anyone who was fascinated by books like Say Anything and wants a deeper understanding of the history of The Troubles.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Harn

    Really good indepth look at the history of the IRA and the internal (and external) struggles of Ireland

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate Zimmerbaum

    Good history of the IRA in Northern Ireland during the Troubles

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ryan McCarthy

    Toes the line between thorough and meandering

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    This was really interesting and well written but so goddamn dense to the point that I had to start skimming to make any progress.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    Informative and well researched but very dry.

  28. 5 out of 5

    R.T. Breach

    Long and full of acronyms, the book leads you by the hand through the confusing maze of Ireland and the UK's land dispute. Very informative. Long and full of acronyms, the book leads you by the hand through the confusing maze of Ireland and the UK's land dispute. Very informative.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    It was a fine book, just tried to fit too much in and so everything felt rushed and condensed. Also concentrated on politics, what groups felt and stood for rather than what they did. I understand the author did not want to glorify the violence or anger victems, but the events probably needed a bit more mention to help this mess to become understandable to an outsider. Or maybe that's the point. It was a fine book, just tried to fit too much in and so everything felt rushed and condensed. Also concentrated on politics, what groups felt and stood for rather than what they did. I understand the author did not want to glorify the violence or anger victems, but the events probably needed a bit more mention to help this mess to become understandable to an outsider. Or maybe that's the point.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    English does cram a lot of information in this book, and while it was vastly informative, I think maybe he should have split up the big events in separate volumes. Clearly should only be read by people who are very interested in the subject material as I recently have been. Another critique was that it didn't give as much detail on the specific forms of violent acts that the IRA committed but I appreciated the detail on the UDA etc. English does cram a lot of information in this book, and while it was vastly informative, I think maybe he should have split up the big events in separate volumes. Clearly should only be read by people who are very interested in the subject material as I recently have been. Another critique was that it didn't give as much detail on the specific forms of violent acts that the IRA committed but I appreciated the detail on the UDA etc.

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