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Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh Paperback – August 1, 2000
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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About the Author
Toby Harnden was appointed Irish Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph in 1996, after first joining the newspaper as a reporter in London. He was one of the first journalists at the scene of the IRA's Docklands bomb and, after moving to Belfast, reported on the second IRA ceasefire, the Good Friday Agreement and the Omagh bombing as well numerous explosions, shootings, riots, marches and political crises. He grew up in Manchester and was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he took a First in Modern History in 1988. Recently appointed the Daily Telegraph's bureau chief in Washington, this is his first book.
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On a separate tangent, this book (and the Troubles themselves) has been overlooked by the newly anointed crowd of Counterinsurgency "experts" focusing their attention on southwest Asia. The academic trend in COIN has been to take several isolated guerrilla campaigns and analyze them for kernels of wisdom to apply to Iraq and Afghanistan. Ireland is frequently and glaringly absent. Any off-handed comparison or made-to-fit academic survey can be dangerously short-sighted. While certainly not the intent of this pre-9/11 book, it was difficult not to draw loose parallels between the indigenous/occupier dynamic described in Northern Ireland and those the US is wrestling with in Afghanistan (the guerrilla's exploitation of popular support for insurgent propaganda and operational assistance; the insurgents' use of improvised munitions; questionable counterinsurgent legal procedures; the self-imposed isolation of counterinsurgent military forward bases; the roles of intelligence and counterintelligence; etc).
It's impossible to cram all the history and all the events into a digestible format and the author did a fantastic job of laying out the history, the characters and the sequence of events from the 1970's to the Good Friday agreement. He also directly accuses several people who were never convicted of any specific event, which I found a little odd but he has the evidence to back up his accusations.
I didn't like his handling of the Captain Nairac abduction and murder. The events of that night appear accurate but he's made out to be some crackpot in out of his depth. We'll never know but he painted a very brave man in a pantomime buffoon style.
He also appears to have kept a very good objective style, which is very rare. I'm not sure why most authors seem to romanticize or glorify the republican terror campaign but this book stuck to events and facts. It also has a very moving appendix of all those killed over the years in South Armagh. It doesn't go into much detail but with a little "google work" you can look up the victims and read more about their story.
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And the locals are very closed mouthed about what they know.Read more