Without doubt this has been the most difficult book I have ever written.
My other books are on a variety of different subjects, ranging from a history of the labour movement in Northern Ireland to insurgency in South Yemen.
Although challenging to write in their own way, they did not pose the same unique problems as UVF: Behind the Mask.
Professional historians are used to scrutinising the past by way of documents and interviews with eyewitnesses.
They are supposed to triangulate these kinds of sources with what is already known about the past.
Sometimes this means challenging their own preconceptions and beliefs.
In the case of the UVF, this meant adjusting my own previous analysis on the group because some of the facts had changed as new evidence came to light.
Interestingly, as I neared the end of my project, these new facts augmented most of my previous analysis on the UVF, which was completed well over a decade ago.
More seriously, however, was the changing context within which I now had to conduct my research.
Aaron Edwards explaining motivations and purpose for writing his eagerly awaited book.
Next week my book UVF: Behind the Mask will be published by Merrion Press.
The book has taken me three years to write but has a much longer gestation, stretching back nearly twenty years.
I first began researching the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in 2000, prior to the outbreak of the bloody feud between the UVF and their rivals in the Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters.
My focus then was to interrogate the critique by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that the UVF’s political associates in the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) were merely ‘mouthpieces for gunmen and bombers’.
I discovered that the PUP’s politics were a lot more complex than what these critiques were suggesting.
Indeed, many of the critiques were disingenuous, especially given the close ties between individual members of the UUP and DUP and loyalist paramilitaries since the mid-1960s.
Digging deeper I found that the PUP was actually trying to offer a political alternative to mainstream unionist parties like the UUP and DUP.