Oh my – touch my heart then, will ya’? – Back towards the end of last year I’d been wondering about the troubles of Northern Ireland, historically with an emphasis on the troubles of the 1960s and early ’70s. And what do you know – before April, 2019 is done, I’ve read two: Milkman, by Anna Burns which is excellent fiction, and now this one, Say Nothing by Patrick Redden Keefe which is spell-binding nonfiction.
Now I’m not Irish in the least, but my children are because of their dad. And to me, Ireland has a fascinating history from the Vikings and prior through 21st century. I’ve read several historical novels with Ireland as setting but only a few about the “official” time of troubles – the 1960s and ’70s and really up to now. (I did a wee bit of research as I was reading those novels.) .
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
by Patrick Radden Keefe
2019 / 455 pages
read by Matthew Brady – 14h 40m
rating: 9.5 / history-true crime / Northern Ireland
(both read and listened)
Although there’s a Prologue to pique the reader’s interest, and there’s a cliff-hanger opening in the first chapter, the book really picks up speed after about 50 pages (10%), when it simply takes off to page-turner/keep the light burning level, a true-crime thriller. And then it gets better – lol – as it jumps between threads for awhile and then from incident to incident. Of course, following the actual war of it all, comes the really sad part, but … (no spoilers on this one – but we have the aftermath in terms of prison time, retribution, the peace accord, and so on ).
Be warned, it gets as graphic as war can get and make no mistake, the Republican struggle was war and the British response was in-kind. When did the Irish troubles with England really start? Who knows – in ancient times perhaps. The book skims that part up to 1969 when the IRA – (the Irish Republican Army, a para-military group) broke loose, with afflicted factions such as the Provos, popping up. It goes on today in some ways and in a very muted form.
Because I had no idea who Dolours Price even was (much less many of the other characters) the book was a kind of thriller to me with the added intensity of the fact it’s verified history (albeit only 45 years ago – I was in my mid- to late 20s). Then came my interest in legal crime which I should mention because that’s a large part of the last half, not courtroom stuff, but legal dilemmas, deals and so on.
Matthew Brady reads it very well, possibly heightening the tension, with an authentic North Ireland lilt and all.
I’d never heard of Dolours Price either, but then, I don’t know the names of any of the participants in this conflict except for Bobby Sands who died on hunger strike. What a wicked waste it all was, all that murder and misery and they’re still part of the UK just the same.
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Bobby Sands is mentioned. That’s the same situation I was in but what I really didn’t realize is how bad it was to live there at the time.
There’s a very good book by Louise Dean Called This Human Season (2005), if you can get your hands on it. It’s about the mother of a man who’s just been sent to the Maze Prison, and a guard who works there, during the Troubles.
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