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Irish Politics, Nationalism, and Northern Ireland:

To order the books of your choice click on either the book cover or the book's title. By clicking on the cover or title you can also find out more information about the book and read reviews.

Unless specified otherwise the following books are paperback.

Before the Dawn : An Autobiography
by Gerry Adams

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Ten Men Dead : The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike
by David Beresford, Peter Maas

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The Illustrated Life of Michael Collins
by Colm Connolly, Colm Connelly

The illustrated life of Michael Collins is a unique visual biography, lavishly illustrated with photographs and documents from Collin's county upbringing in West Cork to his death at age 31. The book also portrays the other more romantic side of the man, with photos of his fiancé, and Lady Hazel Lavery, with whom Collins was reputedly having an affair.

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The Ira : A History
by Tim Pat Coogan

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God and the Gun : The Church and Irish Terrorism
by Martin Dillon
Hardcover

"... Fine new book exploring the religious dimension of the Irish conflict... GOD AND THE GUN deftly explores the religious divide... It is an unflinching account..."
-- The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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Michael Collins : A Life
by James A. MacKay
Hardcover

A stirring, comprehensive life of the great Irish patriot. ``If you think you understand what's going on, you're just confused,'' says a graffito current in Belfast. The same is true of Irish history, a sprawling mess of tangled loyalties and shifting allegiances. The life of Michael Collins (18901922) exemplifies the tortured, bloody course of modern Irish history. A kindhearted and warm man who in his heyday cheerfully ordered the assassination of political and military opponents, Collins rose to international prominence as a leader of the Irish independence movement. He had first emerged as a leader during the Easter uprising of 1916, in which hundreds of combatants and civilians died, and which Collins later rued as an enterprise ``that was bungled terribly, costing many a good life.'' Mackay (Burns: A Biography of Robert Burns, 1993) carefully describes Collins's contributions to the Irish armed resistance movement against British rule, first as a guerrilla, and later as commanding general of the national army. Mackay is also good, for the most part, in recounting and analyzing the complex negotiations with England that led to the founding of the Irish Free State after a costly, vicious civil war in which Collins fell victim to a sniper's bullet. Collins's story cannot be told independently of that of his principal opponent, Eamon de Valera, who remarked after Collins's death, ``In the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Collins and it will be recorded at my expense.'' That much is true, but Mackay does not satisfactorily explore de Valera's character and motivations, and he remains a shadowy and somewhat sinister force. Neither does Mackay deal sufficiently with the charge of other historians that de Valera ordered Collins's assassination. He concludes, probably correctly, that the ambush in which Collins died was not intended specifically for him. Despite minor shortcomings, this is the best life of Collins now available, published just in time to coincide with Neil Jordan's film Michael Collins, with Liam Neeson in the lead role. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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The Committee : Political Assassination in Northern Ireland
by Sean McPhilemy

Hardcover

In 1991 a British television documentary crew led by Sean McPhilemy produced a hard-hitting program about a vast conspiracy among the various loyalist factions in Northern Ireland that was responsible for the cold-blooded murder of several innocent Irish Roman Catholics. A member of "The Committee," interviewed for the program, revealed that the shadowy organization had such deep penetration into the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Northern Ireland's law enforcement force, that the two main gunmen essentially received a police escort to and from their killing sites.
But that wasn't all: McPhilemy named names, identifying prominent Loyalists who were secretly in on or gave tacit approval to the assassinations. The ensuing controversy after the show's airing resulted in legal action and death threats against him, as well as vilification from the floor of Parliament and the pages of the British press. McPhilemy instigated libel actions against two newspapers that questioned the integrity of his work; one of those suits has been resolved in his favor, with the other pending trial at the time of the book's publication.

The Committee is a gripping story of terrorist atrocities and political corruption. While most Americans are more aware of the brutal acts of the IRA, this book makes clear that their opponents have been just as capable of committing evil in the name of their cause. No one who reads this book will soon forget it.

 

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Bloody Sunday : Massacre in Northern Ireland : The Eyewitness Accounts
by Don Mullan (Compiler), John Scally (Compiler)

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The Big Fellow
by Frank O'Connor

Out of print for decades, the classic literary biography of one of Ireland's greatest and most charismatic leaders returns. Playfully nicknamed "The Big Fellow", Michael Collins was a revered revolutionary leader in Ireland in the early 1900s. Frank O'Connor's artful and even-handed biography of Collins brings him alive for readers .

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Michael Collins and the Troubles : The Struggle for Irish Freedom 1912-1922
by Ulick O'Connor

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Biting at the Grave : The Irish Hunger Strikes and the Politics of Despair
by Padraig O'Malley

In March 1981, Bobby Sands began a hunger strike that led to his death 66 days later. One by one, nine other Irish Republicans followed him to their deaths as the whole world watched. O'Malley (senior associate, the John W. McCormack Institute, U. of Massachusetts at Boston) portrays the course of the hunger strikes and their meaning for the Irish people. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or

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The Politics of Illusion : A Political History of the IRA
by Henry Patterson

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Fighting for Ireland? : The Military Strategy of the Irish Republican Movement
by M. L. R. Smith

M.L.R. Smith challenges many assumptions about the IRA, pinpointing the organisation's successes as well as its missed opportunities. He demonstrates the tension in the movement between ideology and strategic realities regarding the use of force, revealing that doctrinal purity has sometimes hampered the IRA in the pursuit of its goals. Contrary to the Irish republican movement's vigorous and assertive public face, this study uncovers an organisation characterised more by a sense of chronic insecurity than by certainty and continuity.

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'We Wrecked the Place' : Contemplating an End to the Northern Irish Troubles
by Jonathan Stevenson

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Behind the Mask : The IRA and Sinn Fein
by Peter Taylor

The violent struggles of Northern Ireland have consumed journalist Peter Taylor since his first assignment there in 1972. One fateful day, "Bloody Sunday," 14 unarmed men were gunned down by British paratroopers; this was the turning point in Taylor's journalistic career, inspiring him to make 50 documentaries and write five books on the troubled nation. Behind the Mask, his sixth, is a provocative foray into the organization so synonymous with violence: the Irish Republican Army and its political wing of Sinn Fein. Based on one of Taylor's television documentaries shown in both the United Kindom and the United States, he was given unprecedented access to members of the Republican movement--a rare journalistic feat. Taylor describes the interviews as "intense, often emotional and remarkably frank."
From his interviews with dozens of I.R.A. and Sinn Fein members (including some confessed killers), Taylor gained fascinating insight into the movement's past, present, and future goals. The I.R.A. is certainly not portrayed in a heroic light; Taylor is graphic in the descriptions of atrocities such as Enniskillen and the Harrods bombing. But the I.R.A. and Sinn Fein are given a voice, and readers may draw their own conclusions. Behind the Mask is an important book for those who want a better understanding of the conflict that has ripped Northern Ireland apart.

Read the first chapter of this book.

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