The British Army and The Troubles, 1966-1975
by Huw Bennett
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Pub Date 07 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2023
When Operation Banner was launched in 1969 civil war threatened to break out in Northern Ireland and spread over the Irish Sea. Uncivil War reveals the full story of how the British army acted to save Great Britain from disaster during the most violent phase of the Troubles but, in so doing, condemned the people of Northern Ireland to protracted, grinding conflict. Huw Bennett shows how the army's ambivalent response to loyalist violence undermined the prospects for peace and heightened Catholic distrust in the state. British strategy consistently underestimated community defence as a reason for people joining or supporting the IRA whilst senior commanders allowed the army to turn in on itself, hardening soldiers to the suffering of ordinary people. By 1975 military strategists considered the conflict unresolvable: the army could not convince Catholics or Protestants that it was there to protect them and settled instead for an unending war.
‘A vivid, compelling book on a dramatic and important subject. A major contribution.' Richard English, author of Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA
‘This deeply researched and lucid book provides new and sometimes challenging perspectives on a vital topic: it deserves to be widely read.' Helen Parr, author of Our Boys: The Story of a Paratrooper
‘Huw Bennett's determined pursuit of key political and military records – in the teeth of substantial official obstruction – has enabled him to write the most authoritative account so far of British military action in the early 1970s, the period when the shape of the Northern conflict was largely fixed.' Charles Townshend, author of The Partition: Ireland Divided 1885–1925