The Blanket

A Book That Will Not Stand The Test of Time
Trimble, by Henry McDonald (Arrow, second edition, 2000);
reviewed by Liam O'Ruairc


This is the first biography of David Trimble to be published. The book will not stand the test of time, because it is a little premature. Trimble’s political career is far from over. The book is to be ranged in the same category as Colm Keena’s “Gerry Adams: A Biography” (Dublin: Mercier Press, 1990): less than ten years after, it will be badly dated. The fact that this is already the second edition barely one year after it was first published is a clear indication of this. It is unlikely to become a reference work in the future.

What makes the book weak is that it seems to have been written in a hurry; and that commercial and financial matters had the upper hand over intellectual or personal interest in the subject. The publisher probably saw a market opportunity for a book on Trimble, and Henry McDonald thought he could make a few pounds on this. This is not the product of a lifelong passion and interest in the complexities of unionist politics. There is minimal original research (all done in a short period of time) to which have been added “cut and pasted” bits and pieces of McDonald’s previously published articles. Those familiar with Henry McDonald’s coverage of those issues over the last few years will find little new in this book, especially given that two thirds of the book deal with events of the past few years. It gives an impression of déjà vu. The book lacks the original research and quality that made McDonald’s previous books on the INLA and the UVF interesting to read.

What the reader might find interesting in the book are a number of anecdotes about Trimble. For example, I found interesting to learn that Trimble liked the writings of the philosopher Karl Popper –of which William Craig was a disciple. Also of interest, is that when Trimble was at school, one of the pupils had tried to shoot him, which led to a police inquiry. Apart from the anecdotes, the strength of the book is that it gives some insight into the personality of and relations between different Unionist politicians.

Potential readers should be advised keep their money in their pocket and perhaps wait until the “third revised and updated” edition of this book is published.







Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives






Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.
- Nadine Gordimer




The Blanket



Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices

To contact the Blanket project with a comment, to contribute an article, or to make a donation, write to: