The most commendable aspect of Yorkshire cricket's return to dominance is that the perpetual unrest that dogged the county for the best part of two decades now seems consigned to the past.

Put two Yorkshiremen in a room and conflicting opinions are potentially only seconds away, but the unity that has brought back-to-back County Championship trophies and produced a stream of players for England has been striking. Yorkshire cricket now concentrates on fighting with the rest of the world, not itself.

Thirty years have dashed by since the retirement of Geoffrey Boycott removed from centre stage the central figure in Yorkshire's civil war and made peace a possibility. The conflict had many characters, but at its heart was one talented, obsessive and - whether you regarded him as villain or victim - divisive figure: Stuart Rayner's comprehensive study of the period - The War of the White Roses - could easily have been called the Boycott Wars.

This admirably comprehensive and even-handed account of Yorkshire's years of strife can now exist not as fresh fuel to the debate but as a valuable history of the times, a dispassionate study of an 18-year period full of malice and bitterness. One of the sort every responsible figure in Yorkshire's affairs should vow will never happen again.

Such even-handedness as Rayner has achieved was once virtually impossible. As a young cricket correspondent with the Yorkshire Post, I was flung into this maelstrom after the pro-Boycott Reform Group swept to power in rancorous elections in the winter of 1983-84, printers and BT engineers overthrowing a collection of former players who had tried to end his career.

Early the following season, my first, I was leaving the hotel in Hove during an away match against Sussex when Boycott drew up in his car.

"Get in," he instructed, at which point, as we drove down Marine Parade he told me that the world was made up of those who were for or against him and that was the way it was. My suggestion that I intended to remain independent was waved aside as youthful naivety. "You'll learn," he said, pulling the car up so I could get out, well beyond Brighton pier. It was a long - and pensive - walk back to the hotel. For Yorkshire cricket journalists (and there were many), the rich pickings were endless, but the perpetual destruction could hang heavily.

Many will ask about this book, "Why now?" and suggest that to revisit the darkest period in Yorkshire's history is unnecessary. Rayner suggests that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it

The recent Kevin Pietersen affair gives those who did not live through this period some clue as to the great themes of the Yorkshire civil war. Boycott, like Pietersen, was a hero to a large majority of the public, but his intractable manner frequently jarred in the dressing room, and by the time you reached the committee rooms packed with former players, he was widely despised, however respected his talent.

The conflict involving Pietersen - even allowing for the fact that it was fought out on a national scale, whereas the Boycott wars were often county-based skirmishes - pales into insignificance compared to the sheer scale of the warmongering over Yorkshire's most controversial son.

The petty hatreds and bitterness recorded will astound many - enough of them for Rayner to fill 300 pages: stories of on-field rebellions; betrayed and broken captains; weak, unwieldy and out-of-touch committees; members' revolts, driven by the wish to defend the interests of the batsman they treasured; and of conceited, purblind, prejudiced politicking that brought a great club to its knees. All of them faithfully recorded for posterity in such minute detail that only Yorkshire, among the counties, could regard as appropriate. A few more anecdotes to leaven the history have been advantageous.

John Hampshire's cry of despair on leaving the county in 1981 in search of a saner end to his career strikes a chord with me now as it did then. "Sadly, my lasting memory will be of the greatest of all counties reduced to a squabbling rabble; of squalid, petty arguments; of supporters, once the most loyal and sane of all memberships, torn apart by a cult that regarded one man as greater than the club and even the game itself; and of a committee which made a terrible mistake and didn't try to put things right until it was too late."

The period was not just about Boycott's character. To some extent this was a class war characteristic of its time - a breakdown of the traditional way of doing things. A committee largely made up of ex-players, nearly 30 in number, held an egotistical belief in its right to rule worthy of the 18th century landed gentry, and as unpaid volunteers, often did so ineptly. The cry "Members' Club" was repeatedly heard by supporters, who believed their voice should be heard - even though such calls for "democracy" were largely a sham: no true democracy has ever centred around the worship of one individual.

Boycott's supporters were well drilled, focused, businesslike. His opponents lacked the common touch. In the winter of '83, in the space of a single day, a group of Yorkshire cricket writers were called to an audience with both sides. The Reform Group served tea and biscuits in a soulless hotel just off the M1, and information worthy of headlines was swiftly provided. The establishment preferred a rather nice pub near Harrogate, where the drinks flowed, a flordidly drunk committeeman nearly fell into an open fire, and we all went home none the wiser about the point they wanted to make.

The era of professional management boards, of directors of cricket, of established command structures, could not come too soon. Cricket has never been slow to establish another subcommittee - but only Yorkshire could draw up a Peace Keeping Subcommittee with a straight face, as Boycott and Raymond Illingworth, then back as team manager, were at loggerheads.

Some good people in Yorkshire cricket sought to stay above the conflict, just as there were other good people on both sides drawn into it. But it was the players who deserved endless sympathy as Yorkshire raged over some of the leanest years in their history, their policy of fielding only players born within the county at a time when their rivals were stocked with world-class overseas players adding to their self-inflicted pain.

"If you think of what we're like now," remarks Martyn Moxon, then an opening batsman making the best of it, now Yorkshire's director of cricket, "there's that togetherness as a club on and off the field, a common goal, a common way of going about things, a true identity - this is what we're about, this is how we want to be seen, this is what we do. Things are all kind of joined up now where it was fractured then. There was no strong guidance or leadership from anybody."

Many will ask about this book, "Why now?" and suggest that to revisit the darkest period in Yorkshire's history is unnecessary. Rayner suggests that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and even today occasional flarings of dissatisfaction - Boycott recently challenging the board over the county's level of debt - are a reminder that the peace is never easily won.

Rayner is well positioned to tell the story. His Scarborough birthplace, for many, will give him the right to tell it, and as a north-east based journalist who has covered Durham with sound judgement, his knowledge of the county circuit is proven. He persuaded enough of those involved in the period to contribute to give his book extra substance, and his assiduous use of source material is apparent on every page.

The War of the White Roses: Yorkshire Cricket's Civil War 1968-1986
by Stuart Rayner
320 pages, £17.99
Pitch Publishing

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps