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Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland


Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland

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    Available in PDF Format | Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland.pdf | English
    Jonathan Powell(Author)
Making peace in Northern Ireland was the greatest success of the Blair government, and one of the greatest achievements in British politics since the Second World War. In Jonathan Powell's masterly account we learn just how close the talks leading to the Good Friday agreement came to collapse and how the parties finally reached a deal.

Pithy, outspoken and precise, Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff and chief negotiator, gives us that rarest of things, a true insider's account of politics at the highest level. He demonstrates how the events in Northern Ireland have valuable lessons for those seeking to end conflict in other parts of the world and shows us how the process of making peace is sometimes messy and often blackly comic.

"Fascinating and fast-moving... an extraordinary book" (Observer)"A powerful contribution to the history of Anglo-Irish relations" (Literary Review)"A fascinating book. No-one else could provide such an insider's account, for he was the only one to be involved in the detail of every tortuous step" (Sunday Telegraph)"Jonathan Powell has produced one of the half-dozen best books on the Troubles... He was the ultimate insider... Powell writes in a personal manner, with deft character sketches" (Independent)"This is the best-informed rough draft of history so far written by someone who was on the roller-coaster ride to a settlement" (The Times)

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Book details

  • PDF | 368 pages
  • Jonathan Powell(Author)
  • Vintage (2 April 2009)
  • English
  • 10
  • History
Read online or download a free book: Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland

Review Text

  • By J. K. Groves on 15 April 2008

    As someone who bought this book to learn more about the diplomacy behind the northern ireland agreement, I found it both comprehensive and easy to understand. Jonathan Powell delievers a very unbiased account, with some interesting insights into what a massive uphill struggle conflict resolution is. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in british or irish politics, whether you are an academic or a layman like me!!

  • By Lindsey Clare Gee-Turner on 8 January 2015

    as started by Major & settled by Blair (obviously mainly about the Labour contribution) by the man who was actually on the job. Not exactly an enjoyable read but pleasantly told, well written & an important book. I know his brother Charles, since 1987, Mrs Thatcher's private secretary. I think what came across was how focussed the participants were facing hiccup after hiccup & just how important achieving a result was to everyone - it must not fail this time! I also read last year The New Machiavelli which was a different writing style, more philosophical but I didn't like it quite so much.

  • By Brian Hostad on 23 June 2008

    This is a very simple book, a narrative history from 1997 to 2007 of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland as seen from the perspective of the British goverment and specifically Powell as Blair's Chief of Staff and chief organiser. The book rattles along covering events more or less as they occur. It's full of last minute meetings, late night telephone calls and exasperation at the changing demands of the parties.The one problem is that it is so close to the events there is not enough chance for measured reflection. Most of the participants are still involved in politics and I sense that Powell is careful in his comments about people, never daring to be too critical. Infact there is all too little reflection generally, with Powell just narrating events as they happen. It misses periodic pauses to reflect and assess progress and issues. Although he touches on parallels with other conflicts it would have been interesting to develop this more and it would have been interesting to discuss whether the peace process has finally been concluded or whether there are still potential pitfalls to come.Despite these drawbacks it's an interesting read, and Powell keeps up the pace nicely. He gives a great sense of what these negoiations are and what an exhausting and frustrating process it is. It's well worth a read.

  • By H. S. Lee on 3 April 2009

    I'm prompted to write this review having been staggered at the other reviews. I was so disappointed reading this book. Powell spent years working closely with all the major figures in Irish politics yet we learn nothing of them from his book. All the interesting parts of the book were published in the Guardian. My recommendation, don't bother.

  • By B. Williams on 13 May 2009

    This is a very interesting book containing insider information about the laborious and complex negotiations that brought peace and stability to Northern Ireland after years of conflict. Written by Jonathon Powell, Tony Blair's Chief of Staff throughout his period as Prime Minister, the author had a pivotal role within the peace negotiations and saw and heard things that few others will have witnessed. The book is written in an engaging and interesting style, and Powell clearly has cordial and constructive relations with some controversial figures, particularly Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. The friendly camaraderie often evident in his exchanges with Sinn Fein leaders in particular has caused some concern to unionist commentators in particular. Powell however always emphasises the even-handed approach of the British government, even if the rival sides did not always see it that way. Powell has used his role to provide some previously unknown information such as the existence of a secret channel of communication between the ostensibly hostile groups, Sinn Fein and the DUP. This book is a vital read to any serious student of modern political history and of the Northern Ireland problem.

  • By Hugh Claffey on 3 August 2008

    Jonathan Powell was an advisor to Tony Blair, working particularly on Northern Ireland.He is a younger brother of Charles Powell, who was an advisor to Margaret Thatcher. So you might think Powell is a dyed in the wool mandarin, establishment to the core. In fact, as younger brother, I suspect he was seeking to break the mould rather than conform. As such he suited Tony Blair's Irish policy, which while seeking to continue peace process, was continually emphasizing that it would not be locked into the security-dominated thinking of the past. Its disingenuous to quibble with success, and Blairs efforts, aided by many people, brought about the first functioning political agreement in Northern Ireland for thirty years. However, quibble I will. Powell's seems star-struck by Martin McGuinness, and to a lesser extent Gerry Adams, of Sinn Fein ; he seems critical of almost all the other politicians he meets along the way - Tony Blair excepted, of course.He describes the tensions in his relationship with each successive Northern Ireland secretary - Mo Mowlam marginalised, too close to Sinn Fein; Peter Mandelson too arrogant, too close to Unionists; John Reid `capable of starting a fight in an empty room'.The fact that Powell was shuttling over and back between Downing Street and Sinn Fein thereby creating a `back-channel' which might isolate the secretaries of state, does not seem to have occurred to him. Powell seems to have believed from early on that McGuiness was firmly anti-violence; and that Adams would never return to war. He buys their view that both McGuinness and Adams had to persuade hardliners, and therefore must get concessions.He is quite clear about their paramilitary past, and even takes some solace in the fact that a significant number of the IRA army council show up at Stormont for the inauguration of the Paisley/McGuiness power sharing administration. However the process of getting to that June 2007 meeting is agonising. The book becomes a series of meetings about concessions, interspersed with brutality both paramilitary and interpersonal. Powell claims that Blair tried to support David Trimble for the longest time possible, though I think its pretty clear from the text, that Trimble was supported as long as he was useful and pretty coldly dumped when Sinn Fein needed more concessions. I get the impression that it is not a fear of the return to violence that motivated Blair/Powell, it was more the prospect of succeeding where five previous Prime Minister's had failed. To do so they adapted pragmatic `if it works in practice, to hell with the theory approach', this raises very difficult questions about whether Sinn Fein were able to gain ground by using the threat of a return to violence, and whether the British government were complicit in this. Curiously, Sinn Fein itself is criticized in Republican circles for unprincipled pragmatism too. Powell's experience here has led him to claim that the west should start talking with Al-Queda. The other impression I get from this book is that the Irish Government side of this process needs to be published as soon as possible. Powell is very complimentary, and rightly so, of Bertie Ahern's skill, commitment; but his views on the Irish Civil servants and the overall Irish positions are off-beam. Powell's view that the referendum to change Articles 2 and 3 of our constitution (removing the claim to the territory of Northern Ireland) as a trade off for the Belfast agreement, would be a tough sell, is, in my view, unrealistic. His description of the Irish position as invariably Nationalist, and sometimes overly Republican, is too simplistic. In my view the Irish government moved from being pro-SDLP, to supporting Sinn Fein, to being almost pro-DUP in the course of the years covered by this book, how and why they did so still need a comprehensive analysis. I found even the title of the book irritating, it's a Yeats quotation, and seemed to me to just a speech writers convention - when talking about Ireland, get either a Yeats or a Heaney quote. From the text, it doesn't appear to me that Powell reads much poetry. There is one anecdote from Powell's brother - Thatcher's advisor - that is too good to leave out. After a particularly tough EC summit, Thatcher had a meeting with Garret Fitzgerald, the Irish prime minister at the time. Fitzgerald went through his points but noticed that Thatcher had fallen asleep. Charles Powell was with Thatcher, and advised Fitzgerald to keep going, and that he, Powell, would keep note and issue the appropriate press release later. It's a tribute to Charles Powell and Fitzgeralds diplomatic skills that the story was not published for twenty years.

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