A dull and emotionless but fact-filled history of the IRA and its antecedents. After a quickie summary of events from Brian Boru to the Famine, O'Ballance (The Language of Violence, etc.) reviews the origins of the modern-day IRA: the founding of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1858; the Fenians; the Home Rule crisis; the 1961 Easter Uprising; the Troubles; the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921; and the 1921-23 civil war, which split the rebels into pro-Free State and hardline IRA camps. O'Ballance's approach is strictly chronological; he charts the ups and downs of the organization from the Thirties through the Sixties against a series of changing backgrounds--Irish politics, World War II, the ""northern campaign"" in the late Fifties, and the emergence of the Catholic civil rights movement in Northern Ireland in 1967. Appropriately, he devotes over half the book to the post-1967 period, and covers the IRA's role in Ulster's continuing guerrilla war in exhaustive, month-by-month detail--tedious, numbing detail that becomes almost macabre after a while: overwhelming tragedy recorded and catalogued in the language of a corporate annual report (""There was an increase in bombs detonated by remote control [in 1977]. . . there were 126 kneecappings, an increase over the previous year""). No analysis is offered, no insight evidenced. Tim Pat Coogan's The I.R.A., though now a decade old, stands as a far more human account of the movement, and Jack Holland's Too Long a Sacrifice (p. 116) provides more thoughtful coverage of IRA's past ten years in Ulster. O'Ballance offers only the facts and, against all odds, succeeds in making them uninteresting.