One year after the historic Irish Peace Accord, which ended decades of conflict, came Making Peace, a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the negotiations by the chairman of the talks, Senator George Mitchell.
For more than two years, Mitchell, Senate majority leader under Presidents Bush and Clinton, labored to unite the Irish parties whose mutual hostility seemed insurmountable: Sinn Fein, represented by Gerry Adams; the Catholic moderates, led by John Hume; the Protestant parties, headed by David Trimble; and, of course, the prime minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern.
In Making Peace, Mitchell introduces us to these principal players and tells of the difficult -- at times incredible -- parleys that ensued. We learn how, on several occasions, the peace process nearly collapsed, but how Ahern, the man of the hour, finally sealed the deal, despite the fact that he was dealing with his mother's death and funeral at the time. Mitchell writes, "I don't ever recall having seen a person as totally exhausted.... That we were in the position to get it done was due to Ahern's courage and commitment."
Making Peace brilliantly conjures up the intensity of the final negotiating session, the interventions of Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the late-night phone calls from President Clinton, and at last, an agreement that, despite subsequent inflammatory acts aimed at destroying it, seems to have set Northern Ireland's future on track.
It's no small feat to keep a story suspenseful when the reader already knows the outcome, but former U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell manages to do so...