David Trimble's ascent to the post of First Minister of the new Northern Ireland Assembly has been a remarkable political journey from the hardline fringes of Unionism to the moderate centre-ground. Whatever the future of the first devolved government in Belfast for a quarter of a century, Trimble's career, from his involvement in the early seventies with Bill Craig's ultra-right-wing Vanguard to leadership of a government that includes a former IRA chief of staff, Martin McGuinness, as one of his fellow ministers, is a unique story of personal and political transformation.
The author tells the story from Trimble's childhood in Bangor, County Down, a town 'as British as Finchley', through his years studying and teaching law at Queen's University, Belfast. He traces Trimble's political career from his early involvement with extreme Unionism, and his role as advisor to loyalist paramilitary leaders, to his rise in the Unionist Party and his maturing into a politician seeking reconciliation with Irish nationalists and republicans.
The author has been granted many exclusive interviews with David Trimble over the years. He describes his relationships with world leaders, including his close friendship with Tony Blair and his dealings with Bill Clinton. In order to understand the man, the author examines his two marriages and his life outside Ulster politics.
Lucid and revealing, this book also describes the final tortuous negotiations towards the devolution of power from London to Belfast on 1 December 1999.
As Northern Ireland's new government - on temporary suspension at the moment - stands on a knife-edge between political failure or survival, this is a vital and important book for all who seek to understand Ireland's troubled past and its hopes for the future.
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