Beauty and Atrocity

Today The Pensive Quill carries a review of Joshua Levine's recent book, Beauty and Atrocity, by guest writer Richard O'Rawe

Beauty and Atrocity: People, Politics and Ireland's Fight for Peace, Joshua Levine, 2010.

BOOK REVIEW by Richard O'Rawe

Joshua Levine hadn’t long to wait to experience the absolutism that has afflicted Northern politics since the Plantation of Ulster in the sixteenth century. Indeed, on his way into Belfast from the International Airport in 2008 to begin research for his book, his taxi-driver offered that, ‘The Catholics are anti-Semitic, they support the PLO, but I’m a Presbyterian and we like you.’ The taxi-driver, with the self-assurance of a man who knows these things, informed Levine that, even though he was a Jew, he would be looked after when Jesus returned on the day of judgement because ‘Jews are going straight to heaven’ – presumably along with Presbyterian taxi-drivers (it doesn’t look too good for the rest of us though).

If the taxi-driver’s fundamentalism raised Levine’s antenna, his next encounter with a member of the Protestant faith, John Beresford-Ash, was an altogether more pleasant experience. Levine described Beresford-Ash as ‘a wonderfully old-fashioned character, impeccably-mannered, entertaining, honest, and indiscreet’ The old man, from Ashbrook outside Derry, narrated the history of his planter forefathers, and how some had eaten rats during the Siege of Derry. Interestingly, Beresford- Ash recounts how, during a visit to Derry in 1971, he had been picked up by the IRA and interrogated by ‘an extraordinary character’, a man he described as ‘clean, fair-haired and very much younger than me’. Beresford-Ash goes on to say that ‘the man would one day rise to prominence in the republican movement’. One wonders to whom the indiscreet Beresford-Ash might have been referring?

A series of illuminating interviews follows that of Beresford-Ash. One of particular note was that of Jo Berry, whose father, Sir Anthony Berry, had been killed in the Brighton bomb, along with four other people. Jo has had several meetings with Pat Magee (the IRA volunteer who planted the bomb), in an effort to understand what forces compelled him to join the IRA and eventually to kill her father.

Pat Magee’s interview with Levine was as revealing as it was evasive and unconvincing. So much so that it would not be difficult to reach the conclusion that Pat is a man who, were he to be given the opportunity to re-run his life, would opt for a different, non-violent path; but then, who wouldn’t? One thing which I found disturbing in Magee’s answers was his belief that ‘The British were always ahead of us in terms of resources at their disposal. But a few hundred people were able to take on this powerful enemy and – I think – to beat it.’ Eh? Levine brings in the republican author and writer, Anthony McIntyre, to put things in perspective, ‘The political objective of the Provisional IRA was to secure a British declaration of intent to withdraw. It failed. The objective of the British state was to force the Provisional IRA to accept ... that it would not leave Ireland until a majority in the north consented to such a move. It succeeded.’ When Levine pressed Magee to outline the Sinn Fein strategy for a United Ireland, Magee floundered in a sea of vacillation, and it was once again left to Anthony McIntyre to tell all and sundry that the Emperor had no clothes, ‘the activities [Sinn Fein] is now designed to gain a better deal for Northern Irish Catholics under British rule.’

In dealing with the controversy surrounding the 1981 hunger strike, Levine writes how he had been at the Derry Gasyard Conference in May 2009 at which Brendan Duddy (the go-between known as ‘The Mountain Climber’) confirmed that the British government had made a substantial offer to end the fast on 5 July 1981 (thus contradicting the prisoners’ Officer Commanding, Bik McFarlane, who had resolutely said that no offer had ever been made). Levine recalls the astonishment of those present at the meeting, especially when Gerard ‘Cleaky’ Clarke stood up and said that he had heard a conversation between the IRA prisoners Officer Commanding, Bik McFarlane and this writer, during which we, the prison leadership, had accepted the British offer, only to have it rejected by a committee of five leaders on the outside. Perceptively, Levine concludes: ‘...If one accepts that the Good Friday Agreement was made possible by the republican shift away from violence to electoral politics, then the current peace can be traced back to the rejection of the offer and the subsequent deaths of the six hunger strikers’.

Of the many great interviews in Beauty and Atrocity, Denys Rowan Hamilton, a former member of the Alliance Party, was one of my favourites. What interested me in this interview was the story of Rowan Hamilton’s antecedent, Archibald Hamilton Rowan. Archie (I doubt if he’ll mind me calling him Archie) was a Protestant, a United Irishman, and a former master of Killyleagh Castle. A close associate of Wolfe Tone, Archie was caught with treasonable documents and imprisoned. He escaped and made his way to France, where he met Robespierre and tried to persuade him of the merits of sending an invasion force to Ireland. Alas, Madame Guillotine beckoned to Robespierre and the plot came to nothing. Archibald Hamilton Rowan died in 1834 at the age of 84, and upon his death, his son turned Hamilton Rowan into Rowan Hamilton in order to dissociate himself from his father’s activities.

Sir Ken Bloomfield had been head of the civil service in the province from 1984 to his retirement in 1991. In his frank interview with Levine, he said: ‘An entity [Northern Ireland] was set up in which one lot was never going to be in charge. It was a recipe for disaster from the start! It really was!’ To his credit, Bloomfield went further, admitting that in his thirties, when he was in the Northern Ireland cabinet, he saw little wrong with there being few, if any, Catholics in the upper echelons of the civil service or public bodies, and his attitude, ‘Why are these people always moaning?’ mirrored that of most Unionists. This outlook is very much the reflection of that outlined by Lord Craigavon in 1934, when he said: We are a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant State.’ Sir Ken’s commendable forthrightness aside, his reflections prompted me to consider that perhaps unionists owe nationalists an apology for decades of misrule, though I doubt that that will ever happen given that the unionist community suffered greatly during the recent IRA campaign. Yet, while I don’t expect an apology from the unionists, I do think that the British government should issue one, and Sir Ken lays the foundations for such an approach: ‘I ultimately blame British governments [for unionist misrule] for not taking an interest in the whole situation. A whole lot of people have died because there was such a reluctance to get mixed in it. One just can’t shrug off a sovereign responsibility.’ One did.

In Beauty and Atrocity: People, Politics, and Ireland’s Fight for Peace, Joshua Levine demonstrates all the sharpness of his former occupation as a lawyer, but he can write with flare and wit, and he has produced a thoroughly entertaining book that should be essential reading for anyone interested in Irish politics. I highly recommend it.


  1. That sounds like a really interesting book, certainly worth a trip to the libary,he ceartainly got Magee,s personality spot on.enjoyed the review Richard.

  2. Good review Richard. Have the book here so must add it to the ever growing list.

  3. Re: "perhaps unionists owe nationalists an apology for decades of misrule"

    If so, shouldn't they apologize more to themselves since Unionists have been the majority of those misruled?

    Too logical?

    I'm afraid that even if his book happens to be interesting and well-written, I can't read it, since I've made my life as Jew-Free as possible, in order to minimize the dangers of being further afflicted with the Jews' psychosis.

    I believe that no Jew (as a Jew) has anything at all to teach any non-Jew. And since every single mainstream movie and every major US media Talmud-Vision network, and the vast majority of the US media are owned and/or run by Jews, I see no need to support their cultural imperialism.

    Speaking of which, what do you think of that Jew-Masonic hagiography of Michael Collins, starring "Schwindler" Neeson as "The Big Man"? They (Neil Jordan a crypto?) went to great lengths to portray Develera as a creep. The casting alone must be some form of slander: President Severus Snape... Since thn I've researched Develera a lot, and find him to be one of the most decent Irish politicians of the 20th Century. I don't think Ireland should ever have been divided, but I wasn't alive in the 10's and 20's so who am I to judge those who thought that was the best thing at that time?

    But in the context of the Second War To End All Wars, Dev was a true hero, steering a course keeping Ireland free from the Internazi's snare. Thank God Ireland was "punished" by being denied the "priveledge" of joining the Rockefellers UN, due to the anger of the lodges at his war-time attitudes!

    BTW, I believe that all the Irish nationalist movements were ultimately directed from 60 Great Queen Street, London. You agree?

  4. I find these attempts that people try to make at drawing parallels between Northern Ireland and Palestine or between the British and the Jews occupying Palestine nonsensical. The only real parralels are with the Jew's sponsoring Strongbow and the Jews connections with Cromwell, and of course the constant Masonic subversions in both territories. But besides that there is no parralel in the last century or so.

    "Nationalists" (in quotations because if they were really nationalists they wouldn't have put such emphasis on Jew-Masonic socialist/Communist politics) pretend that they must condescend to be sympathetic with Palestinians since they share their sufferings. Likewise the "Unionists" (in q's because I've known many "U"s who had no problem with a united Ireland, but not in response to terror) pretend that they share something with "the poor Jews".

    Both are distortions. Unionists and the English etc are generally decent, and have simply inherited this situation. Most have no animosity towards their fellow Irish or fellow Christian "Brits" (in the larger sense of the British Isles). The Jews on the other hand, whether in Palestine or in the US, are mostly hateful and racist and arrogant and imperialistic in a way that the average modern Brit couldn't even imagine.

    Likewise, the Palestinians have been far more tolerant of Jews and their nonsense that the IRA etc have been of their fellow Irish who happen to feel British. There was NEVER any excuse for IRA murders or terror. Politics, protest, debate, and so on were always options. And the terror campaigns have only furthered divisions and kept Ireland disunited. The Palestinians on the other hand can only keep the Jews from achieving their goals of "ethnic cleaning" / genocide by standing up and being ready to kill and die. Jews only understand force. The Jews are and have been nothing but invaders and the Palestinians' enemies. The British and Unionists cannot be generalized about in the same way.

  5. Brianakira,

    that a book is written by a Jew or by anyone else for that matter is hardly reason not to read it. A case of extreme prejudice there. Would understand it if the case was made that a particular person was a bad writer or unreliable analyst but not this sweeping indiscriminate generalisation

  6. I think you've misunderstood my point.

    I wasn't being "indiscriminate" in any way. I was being completely discriminatory.

    Just like if your kids went to school and read nothing but English texts, and studied nothing but English literature and English , and were shown nothing but English documentaries, and studied nothing but English philosophers and political writers -- I suspect after a whle you'd say, "No more of this!" even if someone said, "But read this. This is good. I realize you've had your fill of English this and English that, but just this one more ..." I suspect you'd say, "To hell with that!"

    That's my point. All my childhood I read (without realizing it) nothing but Jew comic books and fiction (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Isaac Asimov, E.R. Burroughs $c). All my adolescence was filled (unknowingly) with Jew-controlled music (The Sex Pistols, Blue Note, Capitol Records, Sugar Hill, EMI, &c). All my adult life so far was framed by Jew "intellectuals" (Freud, Marx, Trotsky, &c) and Jew politics and media (NYT, CNN, WaPo, The Nation, National Review, Boston Herald, LA Times, Chicago Trib, &c. &c. &c.).

    And I've had enough.

    I never said this guy is no good, or his book is no good. I just say I'll be quite happy never hearing from another Jew for the rest of my life. They take up far too much space, culturally, politically, in the miseducation system, in wars, in propaganda, in brainwashing, in everything!

  7. Levine's publisher is Harper-Collins.

    Harper-Collins is owned by News Corporation.

    News Corporation is owned by the Jew Murdoch.

    + + +

    So how did Levine get in to the publishing racket? Who were his connections. What are the chances they were Jews? A better question: What are the chances his agent and his lawyer and his accountant are NOT Jews? Not much.

    I see monopoly, conspiracy, cultural imperialism, and brainwashing.

    Levine's works are all about war. WWI, WWII, etc. All of it is Jew-Spin, and the Jew Filter. ANd for seeing what's in front of my eyes, and for saying what I see, and for refusing to play along, I guess I must be a "bigot" or an "antishemite"?

  8. It's also not "prejudice", since I haven't pre-judged the book or the writer in any way. In fact, I stated that I don't care whether he's a good writer or not.

    For a writer you should be more careful in your choice of words. Less propagandistic. More pensive with your quill.

  9. Brianakira,

    you displayed your prejudice towards the writer on the basis that he was Jewish.

    "I'm afraid that even if his book happens to be interesting and well-written, I can't read it, since I've made my life as Jew-Free as possible, in order to minimize the dangers of being further afflicted with the Jews' psychosis."

    I don't know what you are, anti-semite or otherwise. I doubt if I would let you handle my gas cooker

  10. Brianakira,

    you were indiscriminate in that you failed to select out the author; you failed to discriminate where it was necessary.

    Rather you ascribed to him the characteristics you attribute to a group of people who you seem to hate.

    You were being discriminate in that you targeted a group of people; you failed to be indiscriminate when necessary.

    Bigot? Even they can comment here. That does not make them welcome.

  11. Thanks Richard for a review that was concise yet very informative about Joshua Levine's book.

    There are so many books on the conflict that it is often difficult to sort the worthwhile reads from the dross.

    I am not talking about the perspectives of the writer, or the conclusions per se but so often the arguments are skewed by blinkered personal opinion or so badly written to an extent where the work is worthless.

    I will hopefully read "Beauty & Atrocity" soon.

  12. Richard,
    a very enjoyable review, you sold the book well.

    As Simon points out, it is hard to know what is a worthwhile read and what is waffle.

    Can never make my mind up about people like Patrick Magee.
    At the risk of sounding deragatory, why do people feel the need to justify the part they played during the war?

    If it is an act akin to altrusism, whereby they are prepared to bare their soul in order to give someone understanding or closure, well then maybe that provides an viable explanation.
    However, if it is in keeping with the 'moving forward process of peace and reconcilliation'
    Do these people (former combatants) not feel more than a little cheated, having bared their souls, they then have to sit back and watch their former boss engage in bare face lies?

  13. read the book review by richard
    o'rawe, was not going to comment,
    untill i read the comments, brianakira comes across a tad cross
    still laughing, hope he's on another planet, never mind another country.

    the jews sponsoring strongbow, what's wrong with handing over money to a cider company, then i
    realised he was on about the first
    english, french norman invader of

    the I.R.A was wrong to fight the invader because they were fellow
    christians, the brits that is,
    never heard that one before,

    the nazi's missed you brianakira in
    their book burning days,
    don't think that i could burn a book,
    he's even opposed to stan lee and the sex pistols because of a jew connection,
    what about the king of the jews
    brianakira, him above,
    opposed to god as well.

  14. Richard,

    Levines description of John Beresford-Ash is entirely correct.
    Peter Taylor used him, eloquently in my opinion, as the setting for his book `Loyalists'. His kidnap was also recounted there. Hilariously he explains how he had run out of `gaspers', or cigarettes for those not educated at Eton, and had been kidnapped by the IRA during a late night trip into town to buy some.
    As for his encounter with the`Fisherman'- probaly one of the few released from his `keep net'- Frank Hegarty was'nt so lucky.

  15. Michaelhenry,

    you might come to the conclusion that we waste our time responding to such bile

  16. Anthony,

    Evidently your patience is wearing thin. However I think Michaelhenry deserves some recogition on his latest `offering' - did you not note it's poetesque construction?

  17. Anthony,

    "I doubt if I would let you handle my gas cooker."


    Some years ago I perhaps could have helped you with that gas cooker - I always wanted to handle an explosive device down Mexico way.

  18. I,ve ordered the book so I,ll make up my own mind!! Robert I know a wee poem... wanna hhear it.. ok , I know a bloke , his name is Tim. I like to throw tomatoes at him. Now tomatoes are soft and kind to the skin.......These f##kers arent!!!there still in the tin.!

  19. Marty,

    Loving it!!

    A question if I may?

    FUK MI
    Sushi Bar & Buffet

    If you were an employee there how would you answer the phone?

  20. Robert !"I always wanted to handle an explosive device down Mexico way".is that a wee ref to South of the border,the same south of the border that the boyos from Glenane visited?

  21. Robert,

    when a rabid hate monger comes along my tolerance goes. Not sure about my patience. Maybe there is no difference. I suppose Michaelhenry was right just to treat him with no measure of seriousness.

  22. LOL slowly and with a pause or a very pronounced stutter Robert. did you know that the Chinese call greyhounds fast food.

  23. Anthony,

    Per chance you would allow a naughty moment of indulgence in sharing some Pakistani jokes. They are none flood related so I hope they will not be deemed offensive.

    Pakistani Elvis impersonator?
    Amal Shukup

    Pakistani schizophrenic?
    Mahmood Swingh

  24. Enjoyed that article. Interesting big Cleeky stepped up to the plate on the hungerstrike issue. Beauty and atrocity, interesting title. I saw mr Murphy on the cover of the Irish News today saying he couldn't recomment his kids join the PSNI. Well I never!! But he's cool with Mc Guinness and Co. advocating people sell out their buddies and neighbours to the same outfit. Was lookin up his website to tell him to catch himself to F"£k ON but couldn't find an email address, anyone know it? Time that man had a few choice words to clear his head a tad. Things have got to the stage these guys have no perception af what gunk flows from their contradictory mouths.
    Agree with Mackers nailing of the situation as it stands politically in the article. A better deal for nordy taigs in the UK is their game. Pitty they still can't be honest about it. Heartening to see things in so simplistic and honest a delivery. To the point. No mental gymnastics to take a ringroad forty miles around a dead set fact.
    Im not racist just extremely sectarian....well im from Armagh ...i like some prods, not sure who yet. The jews and the pakies getting it, all good craic as far as im concearned.

  25. Larry,

    I would not remotely put the jest by Robert in the same category as the comments made in relation to Jewish people. The latter came from a thoroughly repulsive creature with a mindset like a sewer.

  26. Interested,

    'Could they both have been hypnotised, could they have found God, no my friends they found what its really like to have power and they aint giving it up no matter what'

    So succinctly put but so agonisingly true

  27. There is certainly merit in the view that the 'Jews' monopolise Hollywood and the media in general for propoganda. That doesn't justify Nazi reaction. However I did find the neanderthal knuckle-dragging comments amusing. Even a gorilla like knuckle dragging 'paddy' like myself can sit and have a laugh at that. Makes me and my wee sectarian streak feel almost civilised!!

  28. I am reading "Beauty and Atrocity" and I am glad I bought it. It is very readable in style and content and I am enjoying it thoroughly. It was indeed written with much "flare and wit."

    The detail is very interesting and the historical background of the interviewees gives their comments greater historical relevance and context. Richard was right when he explained that it is "essential reading for anyone interested in Irish politics".

  29. A typically well written review Ricky.

    On the subject of the Hunger Strikes I read Tim Brannigan's excellent book, Where Are You Really From? while on a recent holiday. My wife who doesn't normally read books also read and enjoyed it.

    The part of his book which caught my eye in particular centered round the two Hunger Strikes and his attendance at the various protests and funerals.

    He said he attended what he believed was the last march after the ten men had died which took place on a rain-lashed night in Ballymurphy. It was, he said, attended by several hundred people as opposed to the many thousands who had been there at the start.

    He said, "the speaker spent as much time talking about Sinn Fein's 'potential' were they to stand for election as he did about the hunger strikers."

    Given that Sinn Fein announced for the first time that they would stand in all future elections in the North three days after Michael Devine died and Owen Carron won the F/ST by-election on 20th August I think it is increasingly clear that while men were dying that certain people's minds were focused more on a future electoral strategy rather than those who were dying or had died.

  30. I thought I was on the wrong blog reading Brainakiras’ comments had to check that the usual suspects were present, yes Robert that includes you.
    I must give him credit for his honesty well almost honesty as he only implies he might be a bigot “I guess I must be a "bigot" or an "anti-Semite"?” Does the Pope love his red shoes?
    The great Jewish conspiracy like many conspiracies have elements of truth within though generally end up with the irrational overriding any logical reasoning thus it ends up in the bin and becomes subject to ridicule.

    “I believe that no Jew (as a Jew) has anything at all to teach any non-Jew. And since every single mainstream movie and every major US media Talmud-Vision network, and the vast majority of the US media are owned and/or run by Jews, I see no need to support their cultural imperialism.”

    I had my cornflakes this morning so I am pretty sure I won’t need to burn my copy of The Torah. The comments are not disturbing or shocking just confusing. A simple solution would be use the remote control and stop watching things that fuel your theory. You have me beat and paranoid now as I have yet to watch Jaws or Star Wars never mind Michael Collins or Schiendlers List. As for the mainstream news media well if you watch that then that is a self inflicted punishment. Paranoid as now I fear walking past a picture house and being abducted by a gang of Steven Spielberg clones and be forced to pay and watch all the films I have not seen. For someone to hate something so much you sound obsessive in your quest to prove the Jewish conspiracy. My money is on finding the Holy Grail first.

    “I believe that no Jew (as a Jew) has anything at all to teach any non-Jew.” Would that statement not contradict itself as obviously you are trying to teach the readers something?
    I know I am more than a few shillings short of a quid but I believe I learn things from others.
    Even my arch Pensive Quill opponent Robert I learn from and he stays the course hopefully that will encourage others to follow his lead and expand the dialogue.

    Unfortunately this is the media age and we all are addicted to our instant entertainment.
    Have to admit it beats the crap out of my old transistor radio.

  31. Tain Bo,

    "Even my arch Pensive Quill opponent Robert I learn from and he stays the course .."

    Damn tootin! The intent of the "shoot and run" contributor is insult and mockery - my intent is already stated. As for the "usual suspects". I challenge anyone to demonstrate a comparison between anything I have presented with Brians anti-semitic diatribe.

    "..for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of my eye"
    Zecharia 2 v8

  32. Robert
    Marty is usually the first one out the gate with his posts so it was s a quick check for the usual suspects a reassurance that I was not on the wrong page.
    “"Even my arch Pensive Quill opponent Robert I learn from and he stays the course .."
    Was using it in the movie theme terms keeping in line with the conspiracy plot then funny enough “Darn Tootin” and the old Wild West shows up got a good laugh at that and the old Western flicks.

    “I challenge anyone to demonstrate a comparison between anything I have presented with Brians anti-semitic diatribe.”

    No comparison needed surprised you even mentioned that.
    On a lighter note the saber rattling on the article “Eejits” is good craic.

  33. Dixie, I must read that book by Tim. He is a good writer and his take on things always interested me even if I disagreed with it.

  34. Richard,

    Thanks for the review. I’m updating my library and appreciate the feed back.It gets expensive purchasing some of these books to find out they are less than interesting.


    Sorry for the delay in reply, but I’m trying to catch up on TPQ newsletters.

    I have a totally different take on your view of the Jews “controlling the world” so to speak. I see it more as the WASP’s controlling the media, Hollywood, financial institutions and bank rolling other wasp politicians into power. However, it wouldn’t deter me from reading a book written or published by a protestant if it was worth reading. Side note: What I do respect about the Jewish people is that they will never let the world forget what happened to them during the Holocaust and you don’t see many Jewish writers, to my knowledge, trying to re-write their history. I only wish more Irish and Irish-Americans felt the same way about the Irish Holocaust (famine).

  35. Helen I and many others refer to that part of our history as the "GREAT HUNGER" There was no famine in Ireland!

  36. marty,

    I stand corrected. You are 100% correct.

  37. brianakira, totally agree with you in relation to the Jewish and Irish holocausts

    I don't think it was a question of re-writing history however. I believe the reason the Irish horror was relegated and diluted on a global scale, had more to do with the fact, that our perpetrators were the British.