The Year of Chaos: Northern Ireland on the Brink of Civil War, 1971-72 (Hardback)
  • The Year of Chaos: Northern Ireland on the Brink of Civil War, 1971-72 (Hardback)
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The Year of Chaos: Northern Ireland on the Brink of Civil War, 1971-72 (Hardback)

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Hardback 384 Pages / Published: 02/09/2021
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'Frank and incisive - an insightful look at the most tumultuous period of the Troubles.' Ian Cobain

'This is the Belfast I grew up in. Malachi writes from first-hand experience and brings back memories that will always resonate with those who lived in those times.' Eamonn Holmes

In the eleven months between August 1971 and July 1972, Northern Ireland experienced its worst year of violence. No future year of the Troubles experienced such death and destruction.

The 'year of chaos' began with the introduction of internment of IRA suspects without trial, which created huge disaffection in the Catholic communities and provoked an escalation of violence. This led to the British government taking full control of Northern Ireland and negotiating directly with the IRA leadership. Operation Motorman, the invasion of barricaded no-go areas in Belfast and Derry, then dampened down the violence a year later.

During this whole period, Malachi O'Doherty was a young reporter in Belfast, working in the city and returning home at night to a no-go area behind the barricades where the streets were patrolled by armed IRA men.

Drawing on interviews, personal recollections and archival research, O'Doherty takes readers on a journey through the events of that terrible year - from the devastation of Bloody Sunday and Bloody Friday to the talks between leaders that failed to break the deadlock - which, he argues, should serve as a stark reminder of how political and military miscalculation can lead a country to the brink of civil war.

Publisher: Atlantic Books
ISBN: 9781838951221
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 765 g
Dimensions: 240 x 165 x 35 mm
Edition: Main


MEDIA REVIEWS
A haunting portrait of a vanished place and time... written with such grace, tenderness, anger and, most of all, sorrow. The Year of Chaos is a gripping and brilliant imaginative reconstruction of that "strange kind of war, if it was a war at all." Every word is suffused with humanity. * Irish Independent *
Frank and incisive - an insightful look at the most tumultuous period of the Troubles. -- Ian Cobain, author of Anatomy of a Killing
This is the Belfast I grew up in. Malachi writes from first-hand experience and brings back memories that will always resonate with those who lived in those times. -- Eamonn Holmes, TV presenter
O'Doherty is a literary surgeon who uses his pen like a scalpel, cutting through the cancerous tissue of propaganda that has served all sides during "The Troubles". This excellent book is a must-read for all who want to understand what happened during the first years of the conflict. -- Richard O'Rawe, author of Blanketmen
Essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of a past frequently distorted by rival sectarian myths and attempts to rewrite history. We need more of this kind of pragmatic history if we are to move forward into a more peaceful future. -- Aaron Edwards, author of Agents of Influence
This is an important book which reminds us of the reality and brutality of Belfast in 1971-72. The narrowness between living and dying is laid bare by someone who lived through the "heat of that crazy time", and is a totally authentic account as a result. -- Arlene Foster, former DUP First Minister of Northern Ireland
An impressive, rounded review of a turbulent and formative year, looking at state failures and paramilitary roots with thoughtfulness but not indulgence. -- Claire Hanna MP, SDLP
One year, described by one Belfast writer which lays bare the whole story of Northern Ireland... A vital book for understanding how Northern Ireland has reached deadlock and how it might yet escape, with incredible insights from boy soldiers of the 1970s, on both sides of the religious divide. -- Lesley Riddoch, author of Huts: A Place Beyond
A unique insight into the unfolding chaos. Reads like a game of chess. Protestant and Catholic civilians, police and soldier pawns. Politicians, army generals, Republican and Loyalist godfathers prepared to risk lives with dangerous moves. All sides made wrong moves... Sadly the game is still in play. -- George Larmour, author of They Killed the Ice Cream Man
A brilliant, utterly moving account of life in the North between 1969 and Internment and after... This is a work which exposes the inconvenient truths of the past, once again in need of recognition and healing. An absorbing, utterly driven political memoir. -- Mary O'Donnell, author of Massacre of the Birds
Without ego or self-aggrandisement, Malachi O'Doherty captures the thrill and horror of being young in a war zone. A war zone on the doorstep of England. This is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the Troubles. -- Rowena McDonald, author of The Threat Level Remains Severe
Malachi O' Doherty brings a unique perspective to the Northern Ireland conflict. Unsentimental, accomplished and authoritative writing is tempered by vivid and compelling lived experience. As Ulster teetered on the edge of civil war, this book travels back to a terrifying tipping point for the province. Opportune and apposite, it should be read as a cautionary tale in these challenging times. -- Paul Burgess, author of Through Hollow Lands
In his final paragraph, O'Doherty suggests that maybe the question is not the more usual one of what tore Northern Ireland apart, but what held it together. His answer, that it never really wanted to be torn apart in the first place, helps us gain some semblance of hope from his thought-provoking account of such a horrifying year. -- Sheila Llewellyn, author of Winter in Tabriz
This book reminds us that there are those of us who want to be friends and those that want to drive us apart. It is an invaluable insight not only into the mistakes that we made but also of the true character of the people here that want to live in peace with their neighbours and that they are the foundation on which we must build a future together in Northern Ireland, this island and between these islands. -- Trevor Ringland, former Unionist and Conservative politician
A vivid account of an awful year. There are lessons here for Northern Ireland today. -- Sarah Creighton, commentator

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