Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

“…probably his best book so far”

Thu 29 March 2007, 2:03am

It’s almost as though Andersonstown News reviewer Michael Morgan can’t quite believe Malachi O’Doherty’s written a decent book… It launches at Queens Bookshop on Thursday evening, but is already available in the shops, or indeed online.

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Comments (27)

  1. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    “Given his reputation for strong anti-republicanism I was expecting a one-sided rant.”

    Nothing like reviewing a book without prejudice..

    Perhaps the writer needs a dose of Jim Campbell’s advice – since he makes a great deal of the reference.

    “Who the f**k are you that anyone cares what you think?”

    As for..

    “It’s probably his best book so far.”

    Grudging praise, much?

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  2. Shore Road Resident says:

    Michael Morgan has obviously forgotten very quickly what it was like to be on the receiving end of exactly the sort of sneaky republican allusions of tribal and class treason that he was once himself subjected to and here dishes out against the author. The man has very little self-awareness.

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  3. just me says:

    The Andersonstown News would hardly indulge in one sided rants now would they? The epitome of balance in West Belfast.

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  4. lies, damned lies says:

    Christ almighty, that’s some of the poorest journalism I’ve ever read!

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  5. lies, damned lies says:

    Just to be clear: the ‘review’ not the excerpts.

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  6. Chris Donnelly (profile) says:

    My, my, isn’t it hard for some to avoid playing the man, particularly when the writer comes from the Andersonstown News?

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  7. Henry94 says:

    I agree Chris. When someone declares their preconceptions at the outset and goes on to say the book overcame them it is myopic to chime in with a comment like Pete’s

    Nothing like reviewing a book without prejudice

    If the reviewer had not declared his expectation but panned the book because of the author there would be for accusing him of bias but as it is there is none.

    Pots, kettles and barrel-bottom scraping come to mind.

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  8. Aquifer says:

    Better than “The trouble with guns” by the same author. Wow.

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  9. Oilibhear Chromaill says:

    Yes indeed Chris, Slugger’s normal sensibilities about playing the ball not the man are reversed in the case of commenting on anything emanating from the Belfast Media Group to give the Andersonstown News Group its new title.

    Pete doesn’t seem to be aware, however, of the niceties of book reviewing. It’s a far cry from news reporting because, in a book review, people are expected to give their opinions about a book. The same applies to film reviews, tv reviews and the like. I’m spelling it out just to be sure poor Pete understands the concept. News Reporting is objective journalism, book reviewing is subjective journalism.

    So Michael Morgan would be remiss if he were to offer a book review which didn’t contain his personal opinion….

    Michael Morgan is a braver man than I to face into a tome from Malachi and is to be respected for enduring it to the end…..that said I might be tempted myself, on the basis of what he has written, to pick it up when it reaches Bargain Books.

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  10. Shore Road Resident says:

    Go on Olibhear, show us some of your Star Trek fan fiction.

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  11. Oliverwatch says:

    What do you expect from a newspaper that refers to policemen as ‘Trevors’? It’s actually quite generous of them!

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  12. Oilibhear Chromaill says:

    See how the ad hominem attacks mount up from those who are unable to mount a coherent argument on the subject in question raised by Mick, ie the small matter of a book review, in case Shore Road Resident with his unique short term memory has forgotten.

    So what says Mick now? Has he gone unusually silent about the ‘man not ball’ rule? Is he merely away from his desk or does he condone this type of behaviour?

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  13. Shore Road Resident says:

    If he didn’t condone this type of behaviour he would hardly have blogged Morgan’s ghastly sneers against O’Doherty.

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  14. Biff 2 says:

    I must say that I thought Mr Morgans review , and comments quite generous . Personaly I thought it was a rehash of earlier dodgy journalism ,and as an earlier post states if you must read it wait for the bargain basement clear out [ it wont be long ].

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  15. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trouble-Guns-Republican-Provisional-Blackstaff/dp/0856406058/ref=sr_1_3/203-9001815-9807127?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175176427&sr=1-3

    Don’t count on the bargain basement. Buy it now. My first book, The Trouble With Guns now sells on Amazon for £140.

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  16. BogExile says:

    Henry’s 94 and Chris Donnelly: the worlds only functioning double act composed of two straight men.

    Malachi O’Doherty cuts at the heart of your prejudices like only ‘one of your own’ can. And he has a splendid beard. And he and I had great crack once on ‘Across The Line.’ And my mother thinks he’s great. So there.

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  17. SuperSoupy says:

    Crap. I’m regretting throwing it in the bin now ;)

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  18. Henry94 says:

    Bog Exile

    Malachi O’Doherty cuts at the heart of your prejudices like only ‘one of your own’ can.

    But not so much that one of our own can’t admit his opinion of O’Doherty but then conclude that his book is a good one.

    “And even the ranks of Tuscany
    Could scarce forbear to cheer.”

    What more could anyone want from a review?

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  19. Dec says:

    Perhaps the writer needs a dose of Jim Campbell’s advice – since he makes a great deal of the reference.

    “Who the f**k are you that anyone cares what you think?”

    Physician, heal thyself

    My first book, The Trouble With Guns now sells on Amazon for £140.

    Amazon.co.uk. Amazon.com knocks it out at a more realistic price.

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  20. MACSWINEY says:

    Before we get too carried away here, I think its important to point out that this book is equally as revealing for what it does not report and recount as for what it actually does.

    I concur that Malachi is equally scathing in this book in his condemnation of both Republican and Loyalist violence, but once again he refuses to give any background or insight into the spiralling chain of events that prompted men and women both young and old to resort to violence and conflict.

    The majority of people directly involved in this conflict were not born or brought up with a gun in their hands. Most came fron respectable, decent families. Nor as Malachi frequently (and frustratingly) asserts were they brainwashed by godfathers of terrorism who had no interest in ideaology. Malachi spends little time in this book on the disgraceful actions of the British Army in his own Riverdale/Andersonstown area circa 1971/1972. The cataclismic effect of mass internment without trial, which many British political and military figures of that time have now conceded was a major catalyst for the spiralling carnage which ensued.

    It’s incredibly easy in many ways to write a book detailing and concluding that 1972 was a frightening and awful year in our history. We are all agreed on that. It takes a lot more courage however to dig beneath the surface and attempt to analyse and explain the events which became the catalyst for the terrible mayhem which ensued. To speak to individuals of that time who were involved and perhaps confront the uncomfortable truth(s)which lay behind many of the atrocities which occurred.

    It takes an incisive and courageous journalist to write such a book. Someone who is genuinely objective. Malachi is not such a journalist, but hopefully such a publication will perhaps one day be written…

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  21. seanzmct says:

    MACSWINEY makes a fair point about contextualisation. But I thought O’Doherty did that in previous writing, particularly The Trouble With Guns.I suggest that the book which MCSWINEY is possibly looking for is Richard English’s definitive study of the IRA- Armed Struggle. This balanced academic but highly readable examination of the history of the IRA concludes as follows-”I myself am-in the end-not persuaded by the IRA’s argument that theire violence was necessary or beneficial”.

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  22. Northsider says:

    Bought this book today at 5pm — and haven’t been able to put it down. I’m rarely in agreement with Malachi O’Doherty – but I don’t deny that there is a brutal honesty about some of his writings.

    I’m not going into what I object to because we’d be here all day (alright, he seems to pathologically critical of west Belfast nationalists): but that’s just me, and he is just him. I read him more than some of the commentators that I’m normally in total agreement with. There, that must be a compliment of some sort.

    This is a GREAT read; funny, revealing and honest. It is filled with great characters, some cracking one liners, and infused(as ever) with an irreverent wit.

    I was a babe in arms when the events of the book took place, but it really brings the era alive. Above all else though, what stands out – and I haven’t finished it yet – is the warmth of character that seems to glow from within the carnage and chaos and misery depicted.

    Whether the characters are his newsroom colleagues, his own family (particularly his mother, and sister Brid), IRA fledglings like Tommy Gorman, or, more often than not, the wet-behind-the-ears, confused, frightened, pseudo-poetic innocent that is O Doherty himself – at this time.

    O’Doherty haters I urge you to give this a go – I can only endorse what Martin said and go one better: it is his best book yet.

    *ADVERT ALERT: you can get it 2 quid cheaper in Waterstones – normally goes at 11.99, I got it for 9.99*

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  23. susan says:

    Northsider, I truly appreciate the time you took to post that.

    I was already looking forwarding to reading the book, and now I am even more so.

    I’ll even pay for it.

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  24. Damien Okado-Gough says:

    I’m paying over the odds for it to get it sent 7,000 miles, so it better be good. If not I’m sending Bobby Storey ’round to Malachi’s house…….

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  25. This is a heartening string to read.

    Dec has spotted a great business opportunity: you can buy my first book, The Trouble With Guns, on amazon.com for just double the cover price and sell it on amazon.co.uk for ten times the cover price.

    I have tried to write honest and thoughtful books, and some people don’t like them and that’s OK.
    Sometimes the criticism is gratuitous, like the catholic teacher who attacked I Was A Teenage Catholic because of the image in it of the smell of boiled cabbage in a confession box. Imagine having the gall to face me in a radio studio with nothing to throw at me but that!
    This type of critic wants to sting but doesn’t want to engage with the ideas.
    Northsider’s observation that I have a pathological need to criticise republicans has to be taken more seriously since he has actually read The Telling Year and likes most of it. S/he also appears to have necouraged some of the rest of you to buy it. Where do I send the flowers to?

    I do not believe that my response to republicans is pathological, and I know at least some republicans who do not think so either. I do believe that some of the republicans bear an unthinking hatred of me and attack everything I say. When i come on slugger with a pseudonymn, the same people agree with me. Once they see that hateful name they reach for their poisoned darts.
    And some have looked and considered and still don’t like what they see and that’s fine.

    My conviction about the outbreak of the troubles was then, and still is, that the revolt in the nationalist communities, monopolised in time by the provos, was an inept and inappropriate response to the problem.
    I think also that the paramenters of the solution vindicate that observation. Those who drove the bombs to town in ’72 would never have believed that Paisley and Adams would have come together.
    Testosterone had a lot to do with energising and prolonging the Troubles.

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  26. Biff2 says:

    Northsider

    The reviewer was Michael Morgan a fellow journalist Not ex Belfast Lord Mayor Martin Morgan .I think the first post was also under the same impression .

    Malachi

    A slight correction. It was both the CO-OP and Liptons stores now known as Grimleys Electrics Andersonstown , which were burned down on Bloody Sunday evening . Not the Busy Bee Supermarket as you stated on page 97 .

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  27. Here to It says:

    Malachi makes an excellent point about how the PIRA actions were not an appropriate response to the political crisis. Many have condemned him for simply seeing the conflict as a moralist because he does not offer any alternative to what the PIRA did. But that would be very wrong, as Malachi simply wants to write about what it was like to experience these times. Those who think that he was ‘pathological’ about republicans should read the book and his account of what he himself felt like doing after Bloody Sunday.

    And those who think that he should have written Ulster’s version of Lenin’s ‘What is To Be done’ – miss the point. This book is doubled edged – it shows how the military options were taken up on all sides – but it also shows in its tone, Malachi himself now finally, being able to breathe, live and work the way he wanted to and that he has something to offer all of us.

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