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Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government Hardcover – August 16, 2005
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'Fascinating...the McGuinness story is truly amazing: read this biography and blanch' Sunday Independent 'A useful new insight into the man' Irish News 'An impressive study of the most controversial republican member of Northern Ireland's current power-sharing government' Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
Martin McGuinness has variously been described as “the second most powerful man in Britain after Rupert Murdoch,” “the personification of the armed struggle,” and “IRA Godfather of Godfathers.” Yet McGuinness, now the first Minister for Education in the Northern Ireland Assembly, is also a devout Catholic and the father of four. In his native Derry, he is equally revered and reviled. In this new biography, Liam Clarke and Kathryn Johnston uncover the truth behind the enigmatic, intensely private individual who holds the peace process in the palm of his hand. Drawing on interviews with friends and family, IRA volunteers, police officers, IRA victims, civil servants, and politicians, they tell the story of how McGuinness steered the IRA through war to peace. Liam Clarke is Northern Ireland Editor of THE SUNDAY TIMES and author of Broadening the Battlefield; Kathryn Johnston is a journalist and filmmaker.
Top customer reviews
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However it is plain that Clarke and Johnston see the thirty years of IRA violence and the thousands of lives which were lost as purely futile and corrupting. They have no basic tolerance for the reasons given for the continuation of armed struggle and, as such, their opinions become front and centre of this biography. Their basic argument is that the deal which brought about the Good Friday Agreement was little different from the deal on offer twenty five years previously at Sunningdale and that the intervening years had seen thousands of people killed, maimed and jailed. They further point out that the only difference between the two agreements was the participation of Sinn Fein and infer, therefore that the violence was really a struggle for power within the nationist community; which Sinn Fein won, at the price of given up their revolutionary aspirations.
While most or all of this may be true, this belief sets the tone for the book itself, and paints McGuinness as cynical, ruthless, effective mainly in self-preservation. The interviews serve mainly to emphasise these traits, and I think ultimately turns the reader away from the views espoused. I was also not convinced that McGuinness provided the key thinking on the various changes in strategy that the movement took over years, though the authors seem to think McGuinness greatly influenced these moves. I did not find the evidence convincing - indeed it seemed to me that McGuinness is more an executor (pun intended) than a strategist.
The book is extremely effective in highlighting the callous, ruthlessness of most of the IRA operations, the ineffectual nature of the campaign led to more and more civilian deaths, the effectiveness of the British authorities led to a widening of the catagories of IRA `legitimate targets' to encompass anyone who dealt with the authorities, and yet more and more innocents were being killed.
There is a book to be written on whether the Sinn Fein leadership are the ultimate cynical politicians, using violence for publicity for over thirty years , and ultimately using the promise of peace to extort votes and a measure of political power. There is also a view that a movement which started in rage and wanted revolution, moved slowly and painfully towards politics having exhausted every other possibility (and at a fearful price in innocent blood). It also needs to be recognized that that IRA did not possess the only (or even an effective ) veto on political progress in Northern Ireland, however their actions justified a Unionist veto for longer than it might otherwise have lasted.
This book is written from too convinced a political viewpoint to be an effective biography, and as such I am sorry I read it. A much more effective and convincing book on the evolution of Sinn Fein is `The Secret History of the IRA' by Ed Moloney, Read that instead.
I was misled by a review I'd read of the book and mistook it for a fair coverage of the man McGuinness.
I found this book to be tongue in cheek bias against it's claimed topic and not at all worthy of any attention whatsoever.
Too many references not based in truths to mention.
It is obviously a book to put McGuinness in a certain light and not at all to provide unbiased or balanced info.
More a work of dogma about the figure of the man than anything of historically accurate value.
A huge disappointment.