Review by Booklist Review
Holland, a native of Belfast with both Catholic and Protestant roots, provides a lucid and insightful analysis of the "Troubles" that have plagued Northern Ireland since 1966. Dividing the contemporary Troubles into three distinct phases, the author offers a historical, economic, social, and cultural overview of each individual era. Dubbing the extraordinarily bloody years between 1966 and 1977 as the "classic" period, he describes how the incessant IRA and UDA violence initially evolved and eventually escalated to obscene proportions. Though the violence never ceased, it became increasingly staged between 1977 and 1993, when a new type of covert terrorism inextricably linked to increasingly sophisticated political organizations emerged. Though an apparently successful peace process was initiated in 1993, the underlying historical conflicts and tensions still remain, and the future of Ulster continues to be uncertain. A digestible chronicle of a costly and complex civil war. --Margaret Flanagan
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
August 1999 marks the 30th anniversary of the introduction of British troops onto the streets of Northern Ireland in response to widespread civil disturbancesÄthe watershed event that marked the start of the Troubles. Holland, a journalist, writer (The American Connection, etc.) and Belfast native of both Protestant and Catholic descent, provides a broad analysis of the history of the conflict. Drawing on his contacts among all parties (in Republican and Loyalist paramilitary organizations and in the British security forces), he guides readers through what he describes as the Twilight WarÄthe shadowy realm in which the IRA, the loyalist paramilitary groups and the British security forces conducted their low-intensity, but often brutal, war. His claim that, before the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the IRA was losing the armed struggle and had been effectively neutralized by the Royal Ulster Constabulatory in many areas of Northern Ireland will be hotly disputed. He also downplays the impact of the IRA's bombing campaign in England in the early 1990sÄa campaign that, in the opinion of many observers, compelled the British government to launch secret talks with the IRA. While the book will profit those with little knowledge of Northern Ireland, it is not an ideal introductory text. For more knowledgeable readers, however, this volume will be invaluable. Few other works, if any, provide as many insights into the strategies, tactics and operations of the paramilitaries and the British security forces. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
For over a century, the "Irish Question" has loomed on the American political horizonÄsometimes large, sometimes less soÄowing in large part to the passionate interests of many Irish Americans. This past generation of "troubles," coming after a period of relative quiet, has been particularly controversial and violent, taking place as it has in the modern media age. Yet somehow the unexpected has taken place, and there are genuine prospects for peace in Northern Ireland. Journalist Holland, a native of Belfast, has long been regarded as one of the most pragmatic and sensible interpreters of events there. In this book, he has put together a carefully crafted, intelligible, and fair presentation of the major phases and developments in Northern Ireland over the last 30 years, leading up to the Good Friday accord of 1998 and its immediate aftermath. Other books deal with particulars of these often gloomy years, focusing on the IRA or other aspects, but this work is highly recommended as an excellent general account of these events for both public and academic libraries.ÄCharles V. Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., SUNY at Brockport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
An excellent, concise historical overview of ``the Troubles'' of Northern Ireland, especially well suited for the general reader. Holland (The American Connection: US Guns, Money, and Influence in Northern Ireland, 1987) explores the roots of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. He begins in the late 1960s, when John Hume organized a Catholic civil rights movement based on the nonviolent tactics of Martin Luther King. Just as in the American South, nonviolent tactics soon triggered a bloody backlash. Protestant mobs invaded Catholic areas of Belfast, burning houses and looting stores. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) was established to protect Catholic areas from Protestant invasion. When the British army arrived to ``restore order,'' all the ingredients for a civil war were in place. The IRA began a longstanding policy of attacking British soldiers, who were viewed as imperialist occupiers. Loyalist paramilitaries struck back by murdering Catholics and IRA members. A covert, dirty war of sectarian tit for tat ensued, leaving thousands dead. The intransigence of Margaret Thatcher provided a propaganda coup for the IRA: in 1981, IRA prisoners began a hunger strike demanding ``political prisoner'' status. With the world watching, Thatcher allowed the strikers to die. The hunger strikes benefited Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, which began having electoral success. While continuing its armed struggle, the IRA entered the 1980s with an often contradictory policy of bombs in one hand and ballots in the other. Increasingly, British intelligence, the Northern Ireland police, and Loyalist paramilitary groups were making the IRA's armed struggle unsustainable. With the departure of Thatcher, the concept of all-party negotiations gained momentum. In 1998, under intense pressure from President Clinton and Britain's prime minister Tony Blair, Loyalists and republicans signed the historic Good Friday Peace Agreement, promising to share power through a new Northern Ireland Assembly. Holland is an articulate, knowledgeable guide through the labyrinth of Northern Ireland's sad history.
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