• Armed Struggle

  • The History of the IRA
  • By: Richard English
  • Narrated by: Roger Clark
  • Length: 20 hrs and 6 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (102 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The IRA has been a much richer, more complexly layered, and more protean organization than is frequently recognized. It is also more open to balanced examination now - at the end of its long war in the north of Ireland - than it was even a few years ago.

Richard English's brilliant audiobook offers a detailed history of the IRA, providing invaluable historical depth to our understanding of the modern-day Provisionals, the more militant wing formed in 1969 dedicated to the removal of the British Government from Northern Ireland and the reunification of Ireland. English examines the dramatic events of the Easter Rising in 1916 and the bitter guerrilla war of 1919-21, the partitioning of Ireland in the 1920s, and the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Here, too, are the IRA campaigns in Northern Ireland and Britain from the 1930s through the 1960s. He shows how the Provisionals were born out of the turbulence generated by the 1960s civil rights movement, and examines the escalating violence that introduced British troops to the streets of Northern Ireland. He also examines the split in the IRA that produced the Provisionals, the introduction of internment in 1971, and the tragedy of Bloody Sunday in 1972.

©2003, 2004, 2012 Richard English (P)2020 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A comprehensive history of the IRA

The history of the conflict in Ireland is as complex as it is fascinating. The best studies of the IRA are ones with an intricate knowledge of the struggle and the religious, socioeconomic, and political nuances that fanned it. Armed Struggle is one of those studies. Armed Struggle is as fair, even-handed, and thorough a history as I’ve been able to find. Far too often in works like these the IRA is either lionized and made completely sympathetic or villainized and portrayed as bloodthirsty killers whose only goal is the murder of innocents. English shows the IRA and Sinn Fein for what they are: normal men and women fighting politically and through guerrilla tactics an abnormal and unique war. The atrocities of both the IRA and loyalists are never excused or downplayed. On the contrary, the very human cost of the war is exhaustively catalogued. While I personally find this subject utterly compelling, I don’t think those beginning to study this subject should start here. The work is as I said incredibly thorough and so expansive it can be overwhelming to the uninitiated or unfamiliar. 40 years of conflict, brutality, and atrocities are catalogued in exhaustive detail. There’s also a fair bit of historical speculation and analysis. The inevitability of the conflict is challenged by the author and a series of “debatable and avoidable decisions” by the UK are analyzed. I’m positive this book will spawn numerous debates by historians and readers alike. However, I think they’re all questions worth asking and I don’t think this is a partisan or biased history. If you’re looking for an exhaustive, nuanced, and thorough account of one of the 20th centuries most devastating conflicts then you’ve come to the right place. It’s comprehensive in its scope, engaging in its depth, and thought-provoking in its analysis.

25 people found this helpful

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Dense, but worth it

A dense, scholarly, seemingly very fair history. The narrator did a great job, especially with pronouncing some of the more intimidating names and phrases in the book. A chore to get through at times, but very informative and definitely worth the effort if you're interested in a scholarly history of the IRA.

2 people found this helpful

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Dry but valuable

It's not going to remotely hold your attention similar to something like Say Nothing. It doesn't use the modern mode of broad histories where little micro-biographies along the way introduce and humanize the people. Don't expect a retelling of the story of the IRA as much as a scholarly study of the IRA

2 people found this helpful

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Good but very LONG

This isn’t a particularity long book per say as measured in hours, but it feels long. It’s so dense, making it feel about twice as long as it really is. It’s a very interesting subject, but one could possibly do without this much excruciating detail. It is as balanced as it can be given the subject matter. The IRA doesn’t lend itself to unbiased views generally. It also doesn’t focus on any one time period over another. It’s very generalized. For a focused read, a book liked “Say Nothing” is what one would want to read. Roger Clark does his usual outstanding job.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazingly details the journey of the IRA.

The details in this book are amazing. The author’s breakdown is truly a trip into history. From Michael Collins to Gerry Adams and all those in between. A history lesson of great worth.

1 person found this helpful

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Very detailed and compelling.

My mother lived in Belfast as a Catholic. This really helped me to understand the ‘troubles’.

1 person found this helpful

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Well narrated.... good from beginning to end...

I have a knack for Ireland's struggle so this book didn't disappoint.. Connected by this and other books to better grasp the past and it's message

1 person found this helpful