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Cardiff academic shortlisted for historical literary prize

22 June 2021

A book written by a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law and Politics has been shortlisted for this year’s Royal Historical Society's Whitfield Prize in British and Irish History.

Dr Thomas Leahy’s book, The Intelligence War Against the Irish Republican Army (IRA), is one of just six titles shortlisted for this year’s prize, which recognises the scholarly contribution and quality of excellent history monographs published during 2020.

Dr Leahy teaches British and Irish Politics/Contemporary History, and his book examines whether British intelligence pressurised the IRA into ceasefires during the 1970s and eventually a political compromise in 1998.

Since studying Northern Ireland at university at Kings College London, Dr Leahy has investigated this topic and the Northern Ireland peace process. His book is the result of many years of interviewing former Irish republican prisoners and UK security force members plus research into Irish/UK archival materials and memoirs by all sides of the conflict. The result is a regional account of what took place and an account which shows that although UK intelligence had its successes, it also had its failures.

Find out more about Thomas Leahy’s book in his shortlisting video.

Speaking of the shortlisting, Dr Leahy said, “To be recognised by the Royal Historical Society in any form is a real highlight for any historical work and author. Alongside positive reviews of the book, and the fact the book has been selling well, it is pleasing to also see the research appealing to academics and the public. I would like to thank my colleagues at Cardiff University, former colleagues and mentors at Irish and UK universities, alongside staff at Cambridge University Press, archivists and of course interviewees who contributed to my research.”    

The Whitfield Prize was established by the Royal Historical Society in 1976 at the bequest of Professor Archibald Stenton Whitfield, who was a Fellow of the Society until his death in 1974. The winner of the Whitfield Prize will win £1000 and will be announced on Friday 23 July 2021.

Dr Leahy was also recently highly commended by The Learned Society of Wales/Cymdeithas Ddysgedig Cymru Dillwyn Medal Prize panel. The prize is awarded each year for early career researchers, recognising their achievements and work contributing to Welsh universities.

The Intelligence War Against the Irish Republican Army (IRA) is available to buy from Cambridge University Press in paperback and hardback.

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