THE FAR SIDE OF REVENGE: Making Peace in Northern Ireland

Deaglan De Breadun, Author . Collins $44.95 (340p) ISBN 978-1-903464-02-1 ISBN 1-903464-01-3

For the long-beleaguered residents of Northern Ireland, 1998 was a landmark year highlighted by the signing of the Good Friday peace accord. The much-heralded accord commanded prime coverage in the American media. And yet, for all the publicity on this side of the Atlantic, gaps remain in Americans' understanding of the remarkable process by which the Good Friday agreement came to be. Now comes this masterful account from a firsthand observer. As former Belfast bureau chief for the Irish Times, de Bréadún sat in on scores of political meetings leading up to the treaty, and was privy to the sorts of intimate details that are only accorded to insiders. He punctures a few misconceptions and underscores just how fragile the peacemaking actually was. Even in Ireland, for example, many people assume today that the official government peacemakers quite naturally embraced the participation of the controversial Sinn Fein, which has functioned as a legal front for Ireland's outlawed Irish Republican Army. It was in fact nearly excluded from the peace negotiations. This is a significant point: Excluding Sinn Fein would have crippled any peace agreement; and yet, moderate Irish leader John Hume had to fight mightily to secure the group's inclusion. Fortunately for an American readership, de Bréadún takes pains to clarify and explain. He translates Irish colloquialisms and charts the key players and parties but avoids a tedious rendition of Ireland's centuries of grievances against Britain. The result is a timely and well-paced examination of a significant historical event. This is a well-researched, literate and highly readable account that sheds much light on a subject whose shadows are continuously shifting. (Aug)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
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