Secret History of the 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Ed Moloney, the Northern Editor of The Irish Times, has been covering the IRA since the late 1970s. In A Secret History of the IRA, this former Irish Journalist of the Year draws on all his hard-won sources to bare the story of how this old and ruthless terrorist organization was maneuvered into ending its 30-year war. The revelations of the book are many: the IRA's long associations with Quaddafi's Libya; Margaret Thatcher's backdoor diplomacy with Gerry Adams; the Vatican's clandestine negotiations with Republican leadership; and Bill Clinton's previously undisclosed peace efforts.
Eamonn McCann - The Nation
“This is the best book yet written about the Provisional Irish Republican Army.”
New York Post
“An important new book.”
Murray Sayle - New York Times
“Moloney throws much new light...on a far from finished important contribution to our understanding.”
Irish Echo
“Hard to put down.”
Fred Barbash - Washington Post
“A remarkable story of cunning and guile...deserves landmark status in the field.”
Anna Mundow - Boston Globe
“A penetrating examination of violent Irish nationalism...remarkably comprehensive yet coolly extraordinarily courageous and ultimately optimistic book that brilliantly elucidates past horrors.”
Publishers Weekly
Most of this sure-to-be controversial narrative centers on the activities of Gerry Adams, who, over the course of his long IRA career, moved the organization away from the gun and toward a negotiated settlement with its British and Loyalist enemies. Moloney, an award-winning Irish journalist, begins with the crucial 1969 split between the Provisional IRA (PIRA), which championed armed struggle, and the socialist-leaning Official IRA. As a youth in Belfast, Adams joined the PIRA, and worked his way up through the ranks. As leader, he revamped the PIRA, starting in the 1980s, by altering its military structure while moving it into the political arena. Adams's strategy of utilizing both the bullet and the ballot, as Moloney repeatedly argues, led to inherent contradictions. Military operations, especially if they resulted in dead civilians, weakened Sinn Fein, the PIRA's political wing. In 1982, according to Moloney (years earlier than previously reported), Adams further eroded the militarists' influence by entering into secret peace negotiations with the Irish and British governments. Over the course of 16 years, Adams did the unthinkable and demilitarized Irish politics, but Moloney seems less than appreciative of Adams's achievements. His Adams is a Machiavellian figure who outmaneuvered and sold out the militarists within the PIRA. Some readers might conclude though Moloney never states it outright that Adams was the unnamed high-level IRA informer who, Moloney reports, tipped off the British to some IRA military operations. Whether Moloney is right or wrong about Adams, he's written an exhaustive and highly provocative account of the inner workings of the Provisionals. 16 pages of photos, 5 maps. (Nov.) Forecast: The U.S. embargo on this will be lifted the first week of October and will be coordinated with international publication. With potentially explosive revelations, this should receive major media attention and big sales. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
An award-winning journalist and former Northern Editor of the Irish Times and Sunday Tribune, Moloney describes the delicate political maneuvering of Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, which compelled the Provisional Irish Republican Army ultimately to accept what their constitution explicity forbade: a cease-fire in the fight to unify Ireland. Airing details of IRA political infighting for the first time, Moloney grants the lion's share of credit for the growing peace to Adams. Adams is the master insider, politician, and statesman who manipulated violence and the promise of peace in negotiations with England, Ireland, Ulster, and, to a lesser degree, America. By creating an internal bureaucracy that produced volumes of reports, more than the Army Council could digest, Adams kept control of the laborious negotiations. His greatest challenge, and success, was keeping the rank-and-file IRA in the dark about precisely what he was doing and how, working toward the cease-fire. The final push was the 9/11 attack, when the IRA dumped its weapons for fear of being lumped politically with al Qaeda by the Bush administration. Historians may ultimately apportion the credit differently, but Moloney does capture an important part of the process. For academic libraries and larger public collections.-Robert Moore, Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging, Billerica, MA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393325027
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/19/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 600
  • Sales rank: 311,505
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ed Moloney has been Northern editor of the Irish Times and the Sunday Tribune. He has written for the Washington Post, The Economist, and The Guardian, and in 1999 he was elected Irish Journalist of the Year. He lives in New York.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps
Prologue 3
Pt. 1 The Dogs of War
1 Roots 37
2 The Defenders 74
3 "The Big Lad" 93
Pt. 2 Taking On the Old Guard
4 Cage 11 133
5 "Our Dreyfus" 163
6 A Long, Hot Summer 196
Pt. 3 A Secret Process
7 "Behind the Scenes" 219
8 Dealing with the Brits 246
9 "Stepping Stones" 261
10 "No Idle Boast" 287
11 Death in Tyrone 304
12 "The War of the Twilight" 326
13 The Derry Experiment 350
Pt. 4 Ending the War
14 Seven Men in a Room 375
15 Cease-Fire 392
16 The Sos 428
17 The Point of No Return Epilogue 480
App. 1 Special Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle Meeting, April 12, 1980 493
App. 2 TUAS Document - Summer 1994 498
App. 3 Post-1996 Convention IRA Constitution 502
App. 4 IRA Executive Chairman Sean McGrane's Speech at the 1997 Convention 509
App. 5 IRA Chiefs of Staff 513
App. 6 The Mitchell Principles 514
Notes 515
Chronology of Events 537
Dramatic Personae 550
Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations 562
Chart of IRA Structure 573
Bibliography 575
Index 581
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