An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions - the Orange Order.
If there is any more controversial body of men in the British Isles, it is hard to think who they might be. To most outsiders, grown men parading in bowler hats, white gloves, coloured sashes or collarettes, rolled umbrellas and banners showing scenes from the Old Testament or from a war that ended three centuries ago, are anachronistic, silly and provocative; to their enemies they are triumphalist bigots; to most of their members, the lodges' parades are a commemoration of the courage of their forefathers, a proud declaration of their belief in civil and religious freedom, a demonstration of their Britishness, a chance to catch up with old friends and a jolly day out.
Ruth Dudley Edwards is an unlikely Joan of Arc for the Orangemen, but that she is; a trusted and liked sympathiser, a woman, a Catholic from southern Ireland; one who sees them as possibly rather bumptious and certainly their own worst enemy, endlessly outpaced by the nimble Republicans in terms of PR. This is a fond but not uncritical, indeed rather exasperated, portrait of this tribe, with lashings of insider detail and revelation.