Coogan, biographer of Michael Collins and Eamon DeValera who has written the definitive history The IRA, here tackles the ""troubles"" that have plagued Ulster since 1966. After looking at the roots of Catholic discrimination of the Northern Irish state, which was created in 1922 at the same time as the Free State, Coogan points to Orange prejudice in housing, education and jobs and the lack of a Catholic outlet for peaceful protest. He also argues that the war in the North started as a civil rights demonstration in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., but that radical Orange response soon turned protest into war. He takes a close look at Ian Paisley (""the great pornographer"" because of his habit of interjecting sexual metaphor into his sermons); John Hume, the quiet peacemaker; Bernadette Devlin, one of the first to put a ""face"" on the struggle in the North; Gerry Adams, gunman turned peacemaker; and Albert Reynolds, the Irish Taoiseach who was the first prime minister to insist on peace. Coogan looks at all parts of the war, from Bloody Sunday in 1972 and the Bobby Sands hunger strike to the current peace initiative. Although he has written from the nationalist viewpoint, Coogan has also taken a very complicated history and explained it simply, with grace and wit. A primer for those looking to understand the religious bloodshed in the North. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1996 Release date: 06/01/1996 Genre: Nonfiction
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