The Fenian Problem

BookThe Fenian Problem

The Fenian Problem

Insurgency and Terrorism in a Liberal State, 1858–1874

2009

February 1st, 2009


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Dramatic and tragic rescues of arrested Fenian leaders, the formation of a Fenian squad to engage in assassinations of suspected informers and policemen, the bombing of a London prison that brought death and destruction to a neighbouring street, public executions of several Fenians, the quality of British justice, and the struggle to develop counter-terrorism policies and an effective system of intelligence form the core of The Fenian Problem . Brian Jenkins adds new information to the established narrative of the movement, arguing that it resorted to terrorism in its pursuit of Irish independence. Jenkins discusses both the parallels between the government's treatment of Fenian prisoners in the 1860s and their handling of the IRA in the 1970S and the similarities between the challenges posed by Fenians and those presented by Islamic insurgents, showing that nineteenth-century British and Irish history illuminate contemporary discussions of state security and liberal government responses to terrorism. Brian Jenkins is emeritus professor of history, Bishop's University, and the author of numerous books, including Era of Emancipation and Irish Nationalism and the British State.

Jenkins navigates the world of British high politics with confidence ... this is an original piece of work written to a high scholarly standard.

Peter Hart, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Brian Jenkins' excellent study recognises parallels between past and present and he draws these out in comparisons of the way in which Fenianism and the IRA stretched the sinews of British liberalism, and justice in their different periods. In developing a thesis that criticises romantic and simplistically sympathetic images of Fenianism, and demonstrates a subtle awareness of the evolution of the state's response, Jenkins' work is both assured and brave.

THE

The Fenian Problem is rather brilliant and deserves a wide readership on both sides of the Atlantic.
Matthew Kelly, Journal of British Studies

Journal of British Studies

Formidably well researched.
Matthew Kelly, Journal of British Studies

Journal of British Studies

Author Information

Brian Jenkins is emeritus professor of history, Bishop's University, and the author of numerous books, including Era of Emancipation and Irish Nationalism and the British State.