This is the first general history of the Northern Irish civil rights movement to be written from a non-partisan perspective. By using original sources and placing developments within the wider context of post-war European history, it provides a totally new explanation for the outbreak of the Troubles. The book argues that the key to understanding what happened in Northern Ireland during the civil rights crisis lies in politics. The coming of the Troubles was the work of men and women, not fate. The book therefore has a narrative structure and tells the stories of the people - housewives, students, factory workers, civil servants, and prime ministers - who shaped events. Although the book is a case study of Northern Ireland, it will also make a significant contribution to the existing literature on the international student revolt of 1968. Using new research and a new perspective, the book successfully explains how international politics interacted with local circumstances to spark the Troubles. The start of the Troubles is one of the most important turning points in Irish history. However, while historians have challenged the popular interpretations of key moments like the risings of 1798 and 1916, the accepted story of the civil rights movement has so far escaped major revision. Northern Ireland before the Troubles is typically depicted as the 'Orange State': a system of sectarian apartheid. According to the orthodox account, this system was challenged when a new generation of Catholics - beneficiaries of post-war education reform - came of age in the 1960s. The civil rights movement is therefore explained as merely an inevitable reaction to an unjust regime. The book will dismantle these assumptions.