Relative to its size Northern Ireland is possibly the most heavily researched area on earth; hundreds of books and thousands of articles have been published since the current troubles began in the mid 1960s. John Whyte had been studying Northern Ireland since the mid-1960s. In Interpreting Northern Ireland he provides a badly-needed guide to the mass of literature and comment. In Part I, he surveys the research on the nature and extent of the
community divide, examining in turn the religious, economic, political, and psychological aspects of the issue. In Part II he discusses ideological interpretations of the Northern Ireland problem, from unionist and nationalist to Marxist. In the final section of the book he surveys the various
solutions that have been proposed and looks critically at what the mass of research has achieved. He suggests that if it has not achieved more it may be because it has sometimes asked the wrong questions.
`Here, inside one set of covers, is the most intelligent, measured, intellectually sophisticated commentary on the vast subject of interpreting Northern Ireland that has yet appeared. No book could really fill the requirements for this prize more.'
Professor Roy Foster, Chairman of the Judges, Ewart-Biggs Prize
`a sorely needed guide to that mass of literature and comment. This is a comprehensive and objective analysis, which will prove essential study for anyone who wishes to write intelligently about Northern Ireland and its difficulties'
British Book News
`Interpreting Northern Ireland is a work of breath-taking scholarship that presents his conclusions, both as a historiographer and as a political scientist.'
`He wrote clear, unadorned and simple prose. These admirable traits shine through in "Interpreting Northern Ireland", a subject to which his calm academic style was perfectly adapted. In future no academic or journalist should write on Northern Ireland without having digested this text. ...a fitting tribute to a great teacher ... Not many scholars have been so committed to scholarly ideals both in theory and practice ... should be read by anyone with the
remotest concern about Northern Ireland, and the slightest willingness to have their prejudices on the subject challenged by argument and evidence.'
Brendan O'Leary, The Irish Times
`Anyone coming afresh to the problem of Northern Ireland, or feeling jaded after all these years, can now consult a book distilling the wisdom of the thousands of reseachers who have attempted to come up with solutions.'
Barry White, Belfast Telegraph
`destined to become a standard reference point for all who want to get behind the slogans and develop a real understanding of Northern Ireland and its problems ... Elegantly written and clinically objective, John Whyte's book makes a major contribution to the literature on Northern Ireland.'
David Chillingworth, Church Times
`In his Interpreting Northern Ireland, the late John Whyte concludes with a cartographic analogy. Researchers are like people trying to map the surface of a planet highly irregular but unknown shape ... he brought to it a range of scholarly knowledge and a humane intelligence that makes the result an indispensable vade mecum for all who seek a way through the dizzying welter of interpretations and approaches to understanding Northern Ireland.'
`John Whyte died shortly after completing this careful and unprejudiced guide to the massive social science literature ... By classifying material and drawing perceptive observations about the nature and extent of the community divide, he has bequeathed an invaluable source-book and model-study to scholars concerned not only with NI but also with ethnic disputes as a whole.'
West European Politics
`of outstanding quality ... magisterial study'