One of the Irish Times' Books of the Year, 2008 Rebellion, partition and a messy peace settlement ensured that Ireland was a constant thorn in Britain's side after 1916. Britain was confronted by the bombs and bullets of militant republicans, the clandestine intrigues of foreign powers and the strategic dangers of Ireland's wartime neutrality - a final, irrevocable step in the country's difficult transition to independence. Using newly-opened archives, this book reveals for the first time how the British intelligence system responded to these threats. It lifts the lid on the underground activities of Britain's secret agencies - MI5, MI6/SIS and the Special Branch. It puts secret intelligence in the context of the government's other sources of information and explores how deep-rooted cultural stereotypes distorted intelligence and shaped perceptions. And it shows how, for decades, British intelligence struggled to cope with Ireland but then rose to the challenge after 1940, largely because the Dublin government began to share its secrets. The author casts light on characters long kept in the shadows - IRA gunrunners, Bolshevik agitators, Nazi agents, Irish loyalists who acted as British spies. His compelling book fills a gap in the history of the British intelligence community and helps explain the twists and turns of Anglo-Irish relations during a time of momentous change. PAUL MCMAHON gained his PhD from Cambridge University.
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