'I am a British soldier,' I told my reflection. 'I am a British soldier and I'm saving lives. I'm saving lives. I'm a British soldier and I'm saving lives....'
Kevin Fulton was one of the British Army's most successful intelligence agents. Having been recruited to infiltrate the Provisional IRA at the height of the Troubles, he rose its ranks to an unprecedented level. Living and working undercover, he had no option other than to take part in heinous criminal activities, including the production of bombs which he knew would later kill. So highly was he valued by IRA leaders that he was promoted to serve in its infamous internal police - ironically, his job was now to root out and kill informers.
Until one day in 1994, when it all went wrong....
Fleeing Northern Ireland, Kevin was abandoned by the security services he had served so courageously and left to live as a fugitive. The life of a double agent requires constant vigilance, for danger is always just a heartbeat away. For a double agent within the highest ranks of the IRA, that danger was doubled. In this remarkable account, Kevin Fulton - former intelligence agent, ex-member of the IRA - tells a truth that is as uncomfortable as it is gripping.
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Dupe or sociopath?
Listening to this audiobook, one is meant to believe that the author is an incredibly gullible dupe, motivated not by ideology or religious zealotry, but by a tenuous rationalization of the patriotic duty of a soldier. Which conveniently allows him to skirt any responsibility for his atrocities (notwithstanding the legal constraints outlined restricting what he can say).
It's apt that the first line of the book is "All I ever wanted was to be a British soldier". It has the faint echo of Henry Hill in the film "Goodfellas" who says "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." Like Hill, this author, is short on credibility, and has trouble recognizing his own culpability in his crimes, preferring to blame his handlers in British intelligence for the crimes he "allegedly" committed for the IRA. While there's little doubt of the truth of the despicably immoral activity of intelligence agencies worldwide, it leaves the author in the position of seeming to be either incredibly stupid, or a sociopath. My impression is the latter. There is half-hearted relief expressed at near-misses (of course, the hits are coyly referenced through legalese), but little in the way of recognition of his own behavior. He even rationalizes his activity in body counts, pro and con, people he's killed versus people he's saved (though I don't know if NOT killing someone is the same as saving them). All his energy seems focused on placing blame on others for putting him in that position.
That being said, it is an engrossing listen. It's not particularly well written, but it delivers what it promises, the secret life of an undercover agent, though lacking a bit in self-awareness and accountability.
2 people found this helpful
This is one I couldn't finish. A memoir is a tricky thing. I have tried too many memoirs to count, and have only a handful of times been satisfied. There's a delicate balance that must be achieved for it to come off properly. Kevin Fulton's story would come off better from a third party and not in first person. And I do believe there is another book somewhere. This would give his actions and non actions proper perspective. As the first reviewer already stated, it's hard to decide how to view Fulton. He wants to be in the British army, and is convinced to join the IRA for British intelligence. But there is a complete disconnect with the kind of activities he does for the IRA, and so the reader gathers that he has no feelings about killing or saving people. It makes no difference. So how does he come off as the good guy? How does the ends justify the means?
It's all rather confusing. Hence the hardest part of a memoir. The reader always thinks they'll connect with the author, but rarely is that the case. They either come off as self serving or semi-genuine. But rarely terribly relatable. Unfortunately, Stephen Armstrong's narration is more of a distraction than a help.