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The Politics of Illusion Henry Patterson

The Politics of Illusion
320 pp paperback

ISBN 978 1 897959 31 2

£15 / $25 / AUS $39


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This acclaimed book remains the only comprehensive study of the IRA's attempts to create a 'social republicanism', a marriage between militant nationalism and the politics of the left. From agitation amongst the peasantry in the 1920s and collaboration with the Nazis during the Second World War to recent efforts to add a political dimension to purist nationalism, Henry Patterson analyses the various failed attempts to marry two fundamentally incompatible ideologies.

Friend and foe have described the IRA as 'socialists', 'Marxists', 'fascists' or simply as militaristic and murderous thugs. In this highly praised work the author steers us through the complex and inevitably secretive history of both the Provisional and the Official IRA, Sinn Fein and their various front organisations, teasing out the real politics that lie behind the labels.

This fully revised new edition takes the history of Irish republicanism to the IRA's renewed ceasefire, and Henry Patterson's conclusion is that 'physical force' or militarist nationalism and the politics of the left make uneasy and, when the rhetoric is cleared away, illusory bed-fellows.

'Of immense value'
Michael D. Higgins, The Irish Times

'Subtle and authoritative'
Fintan O'Toole, New York Review of Books

'The definitive history of the IRA'
The World This Weekend, BBC Radio 4

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'Good, even-handed history'
Guardian

'Thought-provoking'
Times Higher Education Supplement

'A welcome addition to the historiography of the subject'
Irish Historical Studies

'An extremely timely book that will be an eye-opener for those who believe they understand Ireland and its problems'
Library Journal

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