In This Review

The IRA: A History
The IRA: A History
By Tim Pat Coogan
Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1993, 510 pp
Free Ireland: Towards a Lasting Peace
Free Ireland: Towards a Lasting Peace
By Gerry Adams
Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1994, 224 pp

Coogan, a prominent Irish journalist, has updated for an American audience an earlier account of the Irish Republican Army. He brings his story -- much of it based on 500 interviews -- to the first serious efforts at finding an end to the violence.

The IRA is a terrifying story of IRA terrorism, Protestant outrages in Northern Ireland, and British measures of violent suppression. British violence may be less well-known, though Amnesty International has recorded it. Coogan touches on the IRA's international ties, but his evidence is weak, and the book rarely identifies sources. He notes that IRA atrocities evoke revulsion in England and Ireland, and he hopes for a role for the United Nations and European Union in resolving the conflict.

Gerry Adams, president of the IRA political arm, Sinn Fein, has acquired greater visibility since his recent visit to the United States. His book, with its fierce nationalism and anti-imperialist rhetoric (with a touch of Marxist reductionism) is specifically addressed to Irish sympathizers in the United States in hopes that the U.S. government will take a more active part in the peace efforts, which Adams likens to successful initiatives in South Africa and the Middle East. But the tone is belligerent in an indictment of what Britain has done in its "first and last colony." Adams regrets IRA violence but insists that "the IRA is ordinary people . . . against the monster of imperial power."

The publisher of both books seeks to bring "popular Irish books by Irish authors" never published in the United States to the North American market.