Voices from the Grave: Two Men’s War in Ireland (2010)

The dawning of peace in Northern Ireland has not brought with it much truth about what happened during the long war. Very few of the paramilitary leaders on either side have ever spoken candidly about their role in that bloody conflict. But here, in a dramatic break with the unwritten laws of paramilitary omerta, two leading figures from opposing sides reveal their involvement in bombings, shootings and killings and speak frankly about how differently their wars came to an end.

Brendan Hughes was a legend in the Republican movement. An operator, a gun-runner and mastermind of some of the most savage IRA violence of the Troubles, he was a friend and close ally of Gerry Adams and was by his side during the most brutal years of the conflict. David Ervine was the most substantial political figure to emerge from the world of Loyalist paramilitaries. A former Ulster Volunteer Force bomber and confidante of its long-time leader Gusty Spence, Ervine helped steer Loyalisms gunmen towards peace, persuading the UVFs leaders to target IRA and Sinn Fein activists and push them down the road to a ceasefire.

In extensive interviews given to researchers from Boston College on condition that their stories be kept secret until after their deaths, these men spoke with astonishing openness about their turbulent, violent lives. Now their stories have been woven into a vivid narrative which provides compelling insight into a secret world and events long hidden from history.

Reviews and Articles

Daily Express: “This candid analysis of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, as seen through the eyes of two men of violence, is full of revelations…The memories of both men are vivid, gossipy and informed by an intense moral passion.”

Telegraph: “Onetime IRA commander in Belfast [Brendan] Hughes’s memories of the conflict in Northern Ireland, together with those of the former Ulster Volunteer Force gunman and Progressive Unionist leader, David Ervine, form the centrepiece of Ed Moloney’s moving new book, which traces the conflict from their often diametrically opposed perspectives…Moloney’s book expertly interweaves the two men’s recollections with a detailed narrative of the conflict.”

Sunday Times:‘Voices from the Grave is an original and revealing contribution to recent Irish history, the result of an ambitious oral history project overseen by Boston College … [The] accounts are skilfully stitched together and given context by Ed Moloney’s expert commentary. The structure is a triumph for it allows the men to speak for themselves about what drove them to commit their vile deeds … Moloney’s startling book, and the dogged work of Boston College, offer Northern Ireland help in finding the way back.”

Metro: “(A) hugely insightful oral history of the Troubles. … Ed Moloney is a sensitive, expert editorial presence, providing consistent, non-judgmental historical context, and this is a brave and important book.”

Irish Times: “The first and more gripping half of this fascinating, important book by Ed Moloney recreates Hughes’s IRA career through his later reflections on it.”

Irish Central: “Moloney’s journalistic style pairs well with the jarring pictures of violence provided by his interviewees. …Both Hughes and Ervine are now dead, making Voices from the Grave a definitive historical text…With few other recorded examples of paramilitary figures discussing the destruction and killings surrounding the Troubles, Voices from the Grave is an important addition to its field and an engrossing read.”

Open Democracy: How do you document the history of a conflict in which illegal organisations are among the central players? Voices from the Grave, by the veteran Northern Ireland correspondent Ed Moloney, is an intriguing attempt to answer that question.”

Basil and Spice: Voices From the Grave is an important work of oral history, and thanks to Moloney’s expertise on the subject of the violence in Ireland, is fleshed out and set in context  so a non-specialist reader can grasp the details of the violence of the IRA and the UVF and other factions.”

Independent: “Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was accused…of ordering two murders carried out by the IRA, including a notorious incident in which a mother of ten was shot dead and secretly buried…The accusations are contained in a new book, Voices from the Grave, by veteran journalist Ed Moloney.” [Read more here.]

Order the US edition at Amazon.com.

Order the UK edition at Amazon.uk.

6 responses to “Voices from the Grave: Two Men’s War in Ireland (2010)

  1. Why is it called Two Men’s War in “Ireland”, and not in Northern Ireland.

    Is it that it sells better if Britain is disassociated from these things?

  2. Because both men believe that it is one nation,

  3. Pingback: Contested Memories, Oral History, and the Northern Irish Conflict - Dieter Reinisch

  4. Pingback: Oral History in Post-conflict societies: Experiences from researching the Northern Ireland Troubles – IFPH-FIHP

  5. Pingback: I, Dolours: a woman’s political biography | Socialistresistance.org

  6. Pingback: A Socialist Review Of ‘I, Dolours’ | The Broken Elbow

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