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Times of Troubles

Britain's War in Northern Ireland

Andrew Sanders, Ian S. Wood

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This is the first academic study of the British Army in Northern Ireland. It investigates the complex experiences of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish soldiers alike during the often-controversial Operation Banner 1969-2007. The experiences of these soldiers raise many important and difficult questions on war and policy. When do 'troubles', riots and insurgency become war? How does a liberal state respond to an internal war within its own borders? How does it decide on its rules of engagement for its armed forces?

Featuring key interviews with former soldiers, paramilitaries and Special Branch detectives, amongst other key actors, the authors attempt to answer these questions and enhance our knowledge of conflict resolution by providing a deep analysis of one of the most significant British military operations since the Second World War.

Key Features

  • First title to analyse the role of British Army in Northern Ireland
  • Draws on new primary sources including soldiers' diaries, log-sheets, interviews and previously unreleased MOD documents
  • Relevant to former members of the armed forces, particularly those who served in Northern Ireland (a demographic of over 300,000)


Chapter 1 - British soldiers on the front line, 1970
Chapter 2 - The Battle for Belfast
Chapter 3 - Belfast: Winning the Battle?
Chapter 4 - Derry's Walls
Chapter 5 - War on the Border
Chapter 6 - Unlawful Force?
Chapter 7 - 'At least I took no lives...'
Chapter 8 - The Secret War
Chapter 9 - Full Circle: Drumcree and withdrawal

About the Author

Andrew Sanders is John Moore Newman Research Fellow, UCD Clinton Institute for American Studies at University College Dublin. He is the author of Inside the IRA: Dissident Republicans and the War for Legitimacy (Edinburgh University Press, 2011)

Ian S. Wood is a distinguished Military historian, lecturer and journalist. He is the author of Gods, Guns and Ulster (Caxton 2003); Crimes of Loyalty: a History of the UDA (Edinburgh 2006); Britain, Ireland and the Second World War (Edinburgh 2010) and is a contributing author to A Military History of Scotland (Edinburgh 2012).


Sanders and Wood have produced an outstanding and judicious book on a topic fraught with difficulties.
- Alasdair McKillop, University of Edinburgh, Scottish Review

Far more has been written on paramilitary groups in the Northern Ireland conflict than on the role of the British military itself. This vivid study, based on extensive first-hand research, contributes very valuably to correcting that imbalance.  As it does so, it offers important insights relevant to Northern Ireland and the UK, but also to wider conflict settings as armies attempt to respond to the challenges of political violence.

- Professor Richard English, University of St Andrews

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