THE AMERICAN CONNECTION: U.S. Guns, Money, and Influence in Northern Ireland by Jack Holland

THE AMERICAN CONNECTION: U.S. Guns, Money, and Influence in Northern Ireland

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Holland, journalist and author of Too Long a Sacrifice, lulls the reader into thinking that here, at last, is a reasoned approach to the Irish problem. Then, at the end, he lowers the boom. He begins by defining two types of Irish-Americans--the utopian, who looks to the future as a time when, by force of arms, justice, equality, and peace will once again reign over all of Ireland with the British expulsion; and the Arcadian, who in a reverie of nostalgia, looks backward to an Eden-like Erin, ""rural, simple, and innocent."" Unfortunately, in typical Gaelic feyness, the Arcadian reverie and the utopian dream often exist side-by-side in the same individual. The American celebration of St. Patrick's Day (as opposed to the Irish observance, where everyone basically goes to Mass) is a typical example of the convergence of these two tensions. After this promising beginning, the book deteriorates into a series of journalistic snapshots of NORAID, George Harrison (a noted gunrunner who ""estimates. conservatively, that in his time he has sent between 2,000 and 2,500 weapons to Ireland and about a million or more rounds of ammunition""), Mario Biaggi, who somewhat surprisingly became a champion of Irish affairs, and the US press coverage of Northern Ireland (generally supportive of British policy, though somewhat less so since the 1981 hunger strikes). The surprising card turn, though, comes in the final chapter when Holland tries to tie all this together. What we really find him then doing is lambasting the Arcadians and the utopians for their smug comforts in their ""innocuous suburbs."" He decries the fact that men like Mick Flannery and Harrison, now in their 70s and 80s, have no real replacements among the young. What he really seems to prefer is for the old violence, sans Arcadianism or utopianism, to continue. A monster in disguise.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: Viking