The Provisional IRA has been one of the world's most important revolutionary movements. It has embodied some of the most powerful forces in modern world history: nationalism, violence, socialism and religion. The Provisionals have been pivotal in the interwoven histories of Ireland and Britain, but their full significance reaches far beyond the politics of those islands into the world of non-state political violence so prominent today. The IRA has been a much richer, more complex and layered organization than is frequently recognized. It is also open to more balanced and thorough examination now - at the end of its long war in the north of Ireland - than was possible even a few years ago.
This book purports to be the first full, systematic study of the through and action of the IRA, the first book which asks not only what the IRA have done, but also why they have done it and what the consequences have been. Based on the most extensive research ever conducted for such a study, this book offers a detailed history and analysis of the IRA, building historical foundations on which to base on understanding of the modern-day Provisionals. The book examines the dramatic events of the Easter Rising in 1916 and the bitter guerrilla war of 1919-1922; the partitioning of Ireland in the 1920s and the Irish Civil War of 1922-3. Here, too, are the clandestine IRA campaigns in Northern Ireland and Britain during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The author explains how the Provisionals were born out of the turbulence generated by the 1960s civil rights movement. And he examines the escalating violence; the sending of British troops to the streets of Northern Ireland; the split in the IRA that produced the Provisionals; the introduction of internment in 1971 and the tragedy of Bloody Sunday in 1972. He then details the prison war over political status culminating in the Hunger Strikes of the early 1980s and moves on to describe the Provisionals' emergence as a more committedly political force throughout that decade, a politicalization that made possible the peace process that has developed over the last decade.
This book offers a fair-minded, explanatory and historically rich account of one of the world's most significant paramilitary organizations. It is meticulously researched and provides original analysis of the motives, actions and consequences of the IRA that offers a full, balanced and most authoritative treatment of the Irish Republican Army.
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