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A history of “the Troubles”: the radical politics of Republicanism
The conflict in Northern Ireland was one of the most devastating in post-war Europe, claiming the lives of 3,500 people and injuring many more. This book is a riveting new history of the radical politics that drove a unique insurgency that emerged from the crucible of 1968. Based on extensive archival research, One Man’s Terrorist explores the relationship between the IRA, a clandestine army described as ‘one of the most ruthless and capable insurgent forces in modern history’, and the political movement that developed alongside it to challenge British rule. From Wilson and Heath to Thatcher and Blair, a generation of British politicians had to face an unprecedented subversive threat whose reach extended from West Belfast to Westminster.
Finn shows how Republicans fought a war on several fronts, making use of every weapon available to achieve their goal of a united Ireland, from car bombs to election campaigns, street marches to hunger strikes. Though driven by an uncompromising revolutionary politics that blended militant nationalism with left-wing ideology, their movement was never monolithic, its history punctuated by splits and internal conflicts. The IRA’s war ultimately ended in stalemate, with the peace process of the 1990s and the Good Friday Agreement that has maintained an uneasy balance ever since.
About the Author
Daniel Finn is the deputy editor of the New Left Review. He gained his PhD for a study of the IRA’s political history during the Troubles. He writes regularly for New Left Review, Jacobin and the London Review of Books. He lives in London.
“Provides us with one of the best analyses available of the politics that motivated and drove different currents within insurrectionary Irish republicanism over the past 60 years. Well researched and scrupulously objective, the author is ever academically critical. Nevertheless, he does not suffer from the endemic hostility to his subject that mars so many other works in this genre.”
—Tommy McKearney, author of The Provisional IRA
“There are numerous current treatments of the modern IRA, its rivals, and its allies. Daniel Finn’s stands out for its concise clarity, and because, free of jargon, it is written from the left.”
—Brendan O’Leary, Lauder Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
“A fine, subtle analysis of the Provisional IRA’s armed campaign and the movement’s political development over three decades. Daniel Finn provides sharp insights into the leadership’s strategic thinking as it manoeuvred towards a ceasefire in the 1990s. He shows how this militant Republican movement transformed itself into an electorally successful left-wing political party in Ireland North and South.”
—Niall Ó Dochartaigh, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland, Galway
“[Finn is] studious in his research and solid in his writing”
“A concise yet detailed discussion of the modern Irish Republican movement.”
—Ron Jacobs, CounterPunch
“This book’s account of how Sinn Fein’s leaders played an instrumental role in making this possible is an indispensable guide to understanding how this template can — and cannot — be applied to resolving other terrorist conflicts, as well.”
—Joshua Sinai, Washington Times
“This slim volume packs a resonant, intelligent power.”
“Given the outpouring of academic books and articles on the Northern Ireland conflict that has occurred since the 1960s … Does Daniel Finn’s book represent an oasis in this intellectual and moral desert? The judgement has to be a qualified affirmative.”
—Dublin Review of Books
“A valuable read … robust … direct and accessible.”
“What sets Daniel Finn’s One Man’s Terrorist apart from others in the field is its combination of a rigorous—and very readable—assessment of the changing politics of the modern Republican movement alongside a thorough understanding of the wider forces that wracked the North of Ireland during the ‘Troubles,’ a journalistic euphemism for the period of low-level armed conflict that claimed the lives of some 4,000 people at the end of the last century.”
—Matt Collins, Jacobin