Making Peace

George Mitchell, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24 (208p) ISBN 978-0-375-40606-5
Politics, according to Bismarck, is the art of the possible. Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, used his mastery of this art to achieve the seemingly impossible: a peace settlement in Northern Ireland. This is his account of his role as chairman of the interparty negotiations and of how the major nationalist and unionist political parties--and the British and Irish governments--managed to forge the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. Recruited by President Clinton to serve as an intermediary in the peace process, Mitchell spent nearly three years trying to create the conditions that made the final agreement possible. It wasn't easy. The IRA temporarily abandoned its ceasefire in the middle of the process, and extremist unionist and nationalist paramilitary groups tried their utmost to thwart the process by continuing to conduct bombings and shootings. Mitchell describes the twists and turns of the peace process in comprehensive detail, and his overview of the conflict provides a concise introduction to the turbulent history of Northern Ireland. He came to know all of the major protagonists very well, and his shrewd assessments of Gerry Adams (""sincerely trying hard, in difficult and dangerous circumstances, to bring his supporters into the grand tent of democracy""), David Trimble (""he saw the opportunity to end a long and bitter conflict, and he did not want to go down in the history books as the man who let it pass"") and other political leaders enrich the book. In discussing the crucial final negotiating session, the narrative becomes as fast-paced as any thriller. While noting that the peace remains fragile, Mitchell provides solid evidence for believing the Good Friday agreement will hold and that the ""Troubles"" in Northern Ireland have finally come to an end. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
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