In October 1984, the most audacious plot to decapitate the British government since the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 came within minutes of reordering history. Veteran journalist Rory Carroll (Comandante) reveals this dramatic story in There Will Be Fire, a riveting nonfiction account of the Irish Republican Army's attempts, at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England, to assassinate British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Since its founding in 1969, the IRA fought an insurgency to end British rule in Northern Ireland through bombs and bullets, claiming more than 2,500 lives by 1984. Its most hated adversary was Thatcher, the "Enemy of Ireland," whose intransigence elicited a "visceral, personal hatred no British leader had evoked since Oliver Cromwell." Long known as "one of the world's most effective guerilla forces," the IRA aligned motive and means with long-delay bomb timers that allowed Patrick Magee, a skilled IRA "engineering officer," to plant the bomb strategically at the hotel prior to the annual Conservative Party Conference.
When it detonated, the bomb acted "like a monstrous guillotine... [slicing] through concrete, steel, and wood, all the way to the ground floor," killing five people and injuring dozens. Thatcher narrowly escaped: if she had remained in her bathroom two minutes longer, Carroll claims, "she would have been cut to ribbons" by broken glass, ceramic, and concrete. Enriched by original reporting and personal interviews with key players on both sides, There Will Be Fire sheds light on the most spectacular moment of the Troubles. --Peggy Kurkowski, book reviewer and copywriter in Denver