Phoenix; Policing the Shadows

London: Coronet Books, Hodder and Stoughton, 1997. Updated with a new chapter, First edition, first printing thus. Mass market paperback. xxii, 424, [2] pages. Cover has some wear and soiling. Foreword. Introduction. Illustrations. Jack Holland (4 June 1947 – 14 May 2004) was an Irish journalist, novelist, and poet who built a reputation chronicling "The Troubles" in his native Northern Ireland. He published articles, short stories, four novels, and seven works of non-fiction, mostly dealing with the politics and cultural life of Northern Ireland. His last book, Misogyny: The World's Oldest Prejudice, was something of a departure from his usual writings, and its original publisher abandoned the finished manuscript shortly after Holland's death, which followed a brief struggle with cancer. However, the book was later published posthumously by a different publisher. He worked briefly In 1976 for the BBC Northern Ireland, where he was a researcher for the weekly news program Spotlight, working alongside Jeremy Paxman and other journalists. In 1977, he moved to New York City where he earned his living there as a freelance journalist, writing for many publications, most notably The Irish Echo, where his weekly column "A View North" had a devoted following. In the 1990s, he became a lecturer at the New York University School of Journalism, he worked for Channel 4 in London. His knowledge of the Northern Irish political situation and his reporting of the terrorist conflict earned him the respect of the public and of influential policy-makers in Washington, London, and Dublin such as statesmen Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton. the President and Prime Minister of Ireland, and the Minister of State for Northern Ireland. From a review in The Irish Times by Andy Pollock: To the journalist and novelist Jack Holland, Ian Phoenix was a hearing-aid salesman whom he had got to know when the Phoenix family had answered an advertisement in the Belfast Telegraph and rented his house in Italy for part of a summer. But the real Ian Phoenix was an altogether more dramatic character. He was a former paratrooper who had risen through the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to become one of the force's key commanders in the fight against the IRA: a senior member of a controversial and secretive intelligence unit and head of the RUC's specialist surveillance section. In June, 1994, he was one of 25 top British intelligence officers who died when their helicopter crashed into a hill on the Mull of Kintyre on the way to a high-level security conference in Scotland. Only then did Holland find out who his wine-and travel-loving friend was. The writer, from a nationalist West Belfast background, has, teamed up with Phoenix's English' wife, Susan, to write a remarkable book, based largely on the dead policeman's personal diaries. Susan is herself clearly an impressive woman, a self-taught psychologist and campaigner for the deaf, who lived for nearly a quarter of a century with the knowledge that every time her husband went to work in the morning he might be dead by nightfall.
The book they have written is the first credible account of the war in Northern Ireland from an RUC man's point of view. And Ian Phoenix's extraordinary career shows that it really was a war: brutal, bloody and extremely dangerous. The first attempt to murder him came in 1973 when he was a sergeant in north Belfast. Phoenix was involved in a leadership role in many of the key anti-IRA actions of the 1980s and 1990s. In 1983, his men disrupted an IRA attempt to murder a judge in Belfast, by first detonating a milk float at his home and then turning up in a hoax ambulance to finish off the job. In 1985, he led the team which captured Patrick Magee, later convicted of the Brighton bombing. In 1987, he headed the RUC unit which took part in the Loughgall ambush, in which eight IRA men were killed, the largest number of republicans killed in a British military operation since the War of Independence. He was a Rambo-style militarist, who believed that the IRA could be defeated by good intelligence and force of arms, and was suspicious of the compromises forced on the police by the peace moves of the early 1990s. Phoenix makes compelling reading not only for its insider's account of the RUC's war against the IRA, but also for its insights into the republican movement. It features a list of Belfast's 27 top IRA men, and bluntly states RUC intelligence's belief that as late as 1993 the three most prominent leaders of Sinn Fein were also on the IRA Army Council. This book is a salutary reminder that the Northern Unionists also have their war heroes and Ian Phoenix is undoubtedly one of them.
Condition: Good / No dust jacket issued.

Keywords: Northern Ireland, Ulster, Irish Republican Army, Provos, Ian Phoenix, Royal Ulster Constabulary, Law Enforcement, Special Operations, Belfast, Hill of Stone, Mull of Kintyre, Police, Counter-terrorism

ISBN: 0340666358

[Book #85040]

Price: $22.50

See all items by ,