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Publisher's Summary

Terrorist leaders are not benevolent men inclined to make peace but vicious bullies. The IRA was the Islamic State of its day. Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan are similar wars. In these, an insurgency like the IRA/Sinn Féin mix is the main problem.

A proven solution is the rule of law, where police intelligence dominates because investigative practices fail. The approach - widely misrepresented and commonly misunderstood - devastated the IRA. Some terrorists were killed, most were in prison, many were on the run, and the rest feared the same fate. The IRA was forced into a ceasefire.

Had this been disclosed in promoting the peace, nations would have benefited and lives saved. But the political endgame was botched. Unrepentant insurgents in government tainted security to sanitise their past. IRA leaders became peacemakers. Others contemplating conflict watched. Al-Qaeda was encouraged. New York's twin towers stood tall. Peace had a price.

©2016 William Matchett (P)2017 William Matchett

Critic Reviews

"William Matchett's Secret Victory provides a vital case study in counterterrorism at a time the West needs every lesson it can get. It may deal with Ireland, but it provides vital insights into both the value of human intelligence and the limits of force." (Anthony H. Cordesman, Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C.)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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10 sides to every story

the other best book of the troubles would be Killing Rage. Secret Victory is a side that longed to be told.
that being said I don't remember the Glennane and group being mentioned.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jirvine57
  • 01-25-18

Very one sided

I found this book to be very heavily in favour of one outlook, it paints the special Branch as a bunch of equal opportunity police officers, the author is critical of the military due to the lack of trust, as a former soldier I can tell you this was for a very good reason. The author has either a very vivid imagination or he is a bigot. That is my own opinion, I got about 1 hour into the book and stopped listening.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Steve H
  • 11-29-17

Very disappointed

This story was a big let down it was mostly dates and names and ages that are in news reports , I was very disappointed in this book .

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Derrick
  • 12-30-17

Flawed history

I have been privileged to know a number of people who played senior roles in the intelligence and military community in "The Troubles", including one at the very centre of its most controversial incident. As a consequence, I have always had an inherent respect for the hard-won success of the security services in "The Troubles". So I listened to this book hoping for an analysis of the approach that was taken and how it led to the undeniable military victory over the IRA and on to the Good Friday Agreement.

I was disappointed.

A minor point, but this is drawn from the author's PhD thesis and there is no harm in that, but it bears the traces of such and as a result lacks some readability. Other reviewers have criticised the lists of murders. which do go on for 10 minutes or more. I have a mixed view. They add little to the narrative, but deserve remembrance.

Where I take exception to this book is at its core purpose; to provide an academic-standard analysis of what, by any standards, was a complex and multi-faceted conflict. He also attempts to draw parallels with Iraq in the post 2003 period. The analysis is weak and scant, but the author shows his hand pretty early on with references to "bleeding heart liberals". His bottom line is that the Special Branch-led approach was effective and everything else failed; it felt like he was saying: "Trust me, I have interviewed SB members and they have told me so".

Having had similar conversations, I know this to be correct, but I am not purporting to write a book on it. But the real issue is the lack of balance and analysis. Anything outside of his core thesis is belittled out-of-hand. The world was much more complicated than that. Further, the peace settlement is portrayed as a cynical betrayal of all that had been achieved. I wonder how many people walk the streets of NI today who would not have had that peace not been forged when it was?

In terms of the parallels with Iraq, the analysis is plainly naive. It clearly scored points for his PhD that he interviewed David Patraeus and learned that Patraeus drew parallels with NI, but to suggest that the Special Branch model bears any relation to Iraq skims (again) across still more vast chasms of complexity. It escapes the author's attention that the armies of 2003 were a foreign force of invasion and occupation to ALL the citizens of Iraq, and that this invasion was a matter of months ago as opposed to centuries (for a minority) in the case of NI.

All in all, a bit of a wasted opportunity to get a thorough, balanced narrative when so many of the architects of victory are fast disappearing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • hugh taylor
  • 04-18-18

Biased reporting

A very biased report only to be expected from special branch mostlyy one sided he should get his facts right
One star only but narration was very good

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Hart
  • 05-10-18

Fascinating, although from a specific view point.

Although this is clearly written from a Special Branch perspective, it gives much needed balance to the recent history of Northern Ireland. The current peace, such as it is, has been bought at great cost by the men and women of the army and the NI security forces and their sacrifice is being rewarded by persecution, whilst terrorist murderers walk free. This book is a strong effort to redress the balance and give proper voice to the those who have suffered grievous misrepresentation by those who seek peace at whatever cost. It is the first book I have seen that has questioned whether the price of peace has been too high and is all the more thought provoking because of it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-10-18

Very good insight

Really good insight into all aspects of intelligence but also the short comings and lessons that should have been learned for other conflicts

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Grapes of Wrath
  • 05-06-18

Too Drawn Out

It was far too drawn out. Much too much detail to the extent that it became boring.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Adam Q
  • 02-21-18

The Truth at Last

This book is an excellent account of what really happened and how the Government of the time fell for the ruse of the terrorist machine. The professional criminals played them like an old fiddle. Well read and made my commute that bit more interesting. Highly recommended.

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  • Jennifer Berry
  • 02-10-18

Just lists

I had hoped that this boom would be of a story telling of the dets and special branches involvement in Northern Ireland. Chapter 3 was basically a long and boring list of casualties, another lost appeared further in. I wish I hadn’t bought it

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-08-18

excellent

Loved it this book really give you an insight in to thing that I never really understood about Northern Ireland and why things happened the way that they did.
it gives you personal accounts of the people involved and the mind sets of the main protagonists.