Campbell documents the forces strongly resisting change, including those inside the police, military and secret services whose refusal to repudiate their long history of collusion prevented them from contributing to peace-making. Gender is woven into the texture of this story - from the men who sought to dominate the streets to the women who fought for the equality agenda.
The book has an inspired sense of people making their own history, and is full of their stories. These are people whose contribution was from the grassroots - loyalist ex-combatant Gusty Spence, the PPU's Dawn Purvis, Unison's Inez McCormack, Thomas Donahue of the AFL-CIO, Father Aidan Troy of Holy Cross School, to name only a few. It is on the efforts of people such as these that the success of the new state will continue to depend.
'The spinners of history are rarely the makers of history. The real story of Ireland's journey to peace and justice is murkier, more treacherous and often more inspirational than our political masters would have us believe. Bea Campbell is a great chronicler of our times: humane and politically astute, with a keen understanding of the double dealing, interplay and courage that underpinned the long peace process, which was really won by ordinary men and unsung women in Northern Ireland.' Helena Kennedy
'Outstanding ... an impressive and insightful book. The story of international diplomacy and political deals has been told elsewhere, but this details another story, about the contribution of civil society, the women's movement and a "coalition of the committed" to a unique constitutional moment, and to the means by which the state might reinterpret itself and be changed.' Professor John Morison