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Books On The Provisional IRA

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An epic portrayal of one of the twentieth century's longest wars—based on unprecedented access to all the players.
Filled with disclosures and based on the author's unprecedented access to the Irish Republican Army, this explosive book sparked controversy when it was first published in hardcover. Delving deeply into the inner workings, furtive plots, and deadly rivalries of the Irish Republican Army, Ed Moloney, who has covered the IRA since the late 1970s, delivers a riveting account of how one of the world's oldest and most ruthless terrorist groups was maneuvered into ending its thirty-year war with Britain. With revelations including the IRA's long and astonishing associations with Qaddafi's regime, Margaret Thatcher's secret diplomacy with Gerry Adams, the Catholic Church's clandestine negotiations with Republican leadership, and hitherto undisclosed activities of the American government under Bill Clinton, A Secret History rewrites, with dramatic results, the story of this intractable conflict. In particular, fascinating material on Adams's Machiavellian rise to power establishes the IRA leader as one of the most complex political figures of our time. Like Thomas Friedman in From Beirut to Jerusalem, Moloney brings a sharply intelligent reporter's eye to a tangled history often baffling to outsiders. #1 international bestseller; A Washington Post 2002 Rave. 8 pages of illustrations.

A book They love and hate
But a book that is explosive forgive the pun

Ed Moloney's controversial new book suggests that Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to achieve peace in our time in the north of Ireland. He also suggests some compelling reasons why Adams, who has always denied ever being a member of the IRA, should be tried as a war criminal.
Chief among these is the horrific case of Jean McKinney, a Protestant widow with ten young children, who was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1972 because she gave a dying British soldier a glass of water. For more than twenty five years, the IRA denied that they were responsible for her abduction and subsequent murder. Jean McKinney's body lay in an unmarked grave for over 25 years as the IRA peace negotiators munched on their their prawn sandwiches with their British counterparts.

Moloney alleges that Adams authorized McKinney's murder as well as scores of others. He also hints that IRA activists sympathetic to Adams sabotaged key IRA operations and even helped the British Special Air Service (SAS) eliminate their most lethal and dangerous colleagues. The most notorious of these were the eight IRA men under the command of Jim Lynagh who were lured into a SAS ambush at Loughall. The SAS killed all eight, pumping twelve hundred high caliber bullets, an average of 150 bullets each, into the IRA men in the process. Moloney alleges Lynagh's squad was sacrificed to enable Adams to sell the Peace Process to the others.
Yes and no! Adams was playing his games, running with the IRA hares and hunting with the British hounds nad doubleagents like Stakeknife. But Lynagh and his crew were going around demolishing police barracks all over East Tyrone. So the SAS may have just staked out Loughall waiting for the IRA to show up. In the John Le Carre world of international terrorism and subterfuge, who can really tell what side the political players - Orwell's social climbers with bombs - are really on?

There is plenty more in that vein. The book is riddled through with the webs of intrigue and tales of sordid betrayal we normally associate with John Le Carre's Cold War thrillers. Although the book is, on the surface, a tale of how one Irish terrorist, Gerry Adams, came in from the cold and ended up dining in the White House with US President Bill Clinton, it is, at heart, an engrossing account of how devious and disreputable a game the politics of peace making is.

Although Moloney might like to believe that Adams and his closest confidents deserve the Nobel Prize for taking some of their guns out of Irish politics, there is another side to all this that Moloney's book could have dealt with at greater length. The IRA has meted out unjustifiable violence to the Irish people, most of whom will never forgive or forget their nefarious deeds. That being so, the Adams inspired peace process cannot ever fully succeed. That fundamental reality apart, Moloney has accurately depicted the north of Ireland's Troubles as the dirty, squalid war that it was, where secretive, amoral groups, often working through informers and double agents, had no qualms about spilling the blood of uninvolved innocents or, for that matter, of their factional rivals.

Perhaps Adams should be given the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution; others, after all, have been awarded Nobel Prizes for less. Far better would it be if the lies, duplicity and double dealing, which Moloney contends were the hallmark of Adams and his IRA colleagues, were to disappear forever from the face of the earth. The strength of Moloney's book is that he so accurately catalogues the IRA's use of the lie and the double cross. The weakness is that he does not explain how habitual liars and double crossers can be trusted to guarantee a lasting peace.

Because the moral price for bringing Gerry Adams in from the cold has been so high, the neutral reader must almost certainly feel that the north of Ireland's non combatants have been short changed. Although peace has always to be preferred to war, Moloney gives the strong impression that not even Gerry Adams could explain what all the violence was for in the first place.

This book at times reads like a history book and at times a novel. There so much information that if not written so well it would be overwhelming. I just picked up the book on vacation in Ireland and was hooked as soon as I picked it up.

This is hands down the best look at the Provisional IRA - the 'Provos' - that I have read. The author does a great job tying in major events in the PIRA history with the organization's philosophies and objectives. Moreover, it is an interesting look at Gerry Adams, and his rise from internment to Sinn Fein Executive Leader and IRA Army Council Member. If you are interested in 'The Troubles' this is a must have book

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