Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal Of Unionism

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9780007179992: Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal Of Unionism

The comprehensive and groundbreaking biography of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning politician, one of the most influential and important men in Irish political history.

How did David Trimble, the ‘bête noire’ of Irish nationalism and ‘bien pensant’ opinion, transform himself into a peacemaker? How did this unfashionable, ‘petit bourgeois’ Orangeman come to win a standing ovation at the Labour Party conference? How, indeed, did this taciturn academic with few real intimates succeed in becoming the leader of the least intellectual party in the United Kingdom, the Ulster Unionists? And how did he carry them with him, against the odds, to make an ‘historic compromise’ with Irish nationalism?

These are just a few of the key questions about David Trimble, one of the unlikeliest and most complicated leaders of our times. Both his admirers and his detractors within the unionist family are, however, agreed on one thing: the Good Friday agreement could not have been done without him. Only he had the skills and the command of the issues to negotiate a saleable deal, and only he possessed the political credibility within the broader unionist community to lend that agreement legitimacy once it had been made.

David Trimble’s achievements are extraordinary, and Dean Godson, chief leader writer of the ‘Daily Telegraph’, was granted exclusive and complete access while writing this book.

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Review:

‘A great act of political reporting – instant history, if you like – about the drama of Northern Ireland's search for peace.’ Andrew Marr, Daily Telegraph

‘This is a perceptive, deeply informed account of the entire peace process…Well written, fair and full of insights, it is destined to become part of the history it relates.’ Alan Judd, Sunday Telegraph

‘This is much more than a biography: it is a moment-by-moment guide through history, a book that will become a key reference point in years to come, and is surprisingly entertaining now.’ Alan Ruddock, Sunday Times

‘A comprehensive and essential history.’ Henry Patterson, Spectator

‘Absorbing…A fascinating portrait of Trimble.’ Neasa MacErlean, Observer

‘Masterly…impressive…dispassionate…Not only is this book the definitive account of the modern history of Northern Ireland, it is also as good a guide to its embattled inhabitants as one could wish.’ Daily Mail

‘Dean Godson’s meticulously researched biography offers an authoritative guide to the province's painful path to peace. It is a feast of eavesdropped political conversations.’ New Statesman

From the Back Cover:

David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, is one of the unlikeliest and most complicated political leaders of our times. Long reviled by nationalist Ireland and much of mainland opinion as an awkward and flinty loyalist extremist, both his admirers and detractors agree that the Belfast Agreement could not have been made without him. This taciturn ex-Queen's University law lecturer and lover of opera has become the first Unionist leader to enjoy international recognition, being praised by the Nobel Peace Prize committee for his 'great political courage' and regularly visiting the White House. But in the process, he has been excoriated as a traitor by many of his one-time supporters.

In this stunning new biography, Dean Godson has been given unique access to the politician and his papers. In addition to conducting over one hundred hours of interviews with Trimble and his wife, Godson has spoken to over three hundred friends, foes and colleagues of the Unionist leader - including Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, Mo Mowlam, Peter Mandelson, John Hume, John Major and John Bruton. He has also enjoyed privileged access to the private papers and diaries of other leading politicians in Ulster, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Godson also reveals Trimble's dependence on an extraordinary 'kitchen cabinet' of informal advisers, composed largely of southern Irish Catholics, including the ex-senior IRA member, Sean O'Callaghan. Rarely can any practising politician have spoken so candidly to any biographer.

Himself Alone is a remarkable study of the man and his times, and an illuminating record of the political dynamics of the Troubles and the complexity of the calculations which all leaders locked in such disputes must make.

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