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Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (2019)

by Patrick Radden Keefe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,0635514,010 (4.42)100
""Meticulously reported, exquisitely written, and grippingly told, Say Nothing is a work of revelation." --David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon From award-winning New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe, a stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and its devastating repercussions In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville's children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress--with so many kids, McConville always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes. Patrick Radden Keefe's mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists--or volunteers, depending on which side one was on--such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace and denied his I.R.A. past, betraying his hardcore comrades--Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish"--"A narrative about a notorious killing that took place in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and its devastating repercussions to this day"--… (more)
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English (49)  Spanish (2)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Well written and fascinating look at The Troubles of Northern Ireland especially during the '60's and 70's. Principal members of the IRA such as the Price sisters, Delours and Marian, who barely out of their teens became terrorists, were imprisoned, endured hunger strikes, and led lives of extreme frustration. The action, Stephen Rea married Delours and is also a key player in the story. So many names that were on the news.

The Protestant/Catholic divide is seen in light of the support or resistance to British rule. There's a lot of history here and a broad look at what happens when people refuse to cooperate and compromise. Gerry Adams, definitely an IRA member, who refuses to acknowledge his involvement becomes the political leader of Sinn Fein. The struggle within the IRA between different factions, the spying, the violence, the blind loyalties are all a part of this story.

The story opens and ends with the kidnapping and murder of a widowed mother of ten children in Belfast. Was she an informer? Who killed her? The rule of "say nothing" remains hard fast. Also interesting was a project called the Boston Project in which Boston College held the oral histories of many of the people involved in so much of the violence. Totally fascinating book - easy to read and follow. ( )
  maryreinert | Jan 11, 2021 |
I think this was a really solid introduction to the Troubles, following the history through events and major figures, as well as tracing the McConville family through the time through the present. Keefe's reach is pretty expansive and it's clear the careful work he did in interviewing those he was able to and taking a guess based on other work for those he could not allowed him to create a fairly balanced narrative that raises many questions.

I do think the true crime angle of this book means that some things that I personally find more interesting get dropped out; Keefe touches on some of the connections between the Troubles and other anticolonial struggles through the world, especially as they relate to the British response, but doesn't do much more investigating of colonialism beyond this, or the ways that the IRA saw themselves (if at all!) as part of an anticolonial movement (including with ideas about global solidarity.) Indeed, way more emphasis is drawn at the beginning on the similarity of the nonviolent march that the Price sisters were involved in (and possibly radicalized by) to the US civil rights movement, but doesn't acknowledge MLK's drawing from (among others) the work on nonviolence done by Mahatma Ghandi--in response also to British colonialism. I understand that in some ways that's me pushing this book to move outside some of its scope, but I would have liked a little more of that. (And also yknow any recommendations you have about the IRA and ideological or political connections to other anticolonial movements, I'd love to read that!)

But I do think it was a really solid book, and if you're looking for an entry point into the history this is very accessible and interesting. ( )
  aijmiller | Jan 11, 2021 |
Say nothing, Patrick Radden Keefe, author; Matthew Blaney, narrator
This book is captivating because it reveals a piece of history concerning the conflict between Britain, the Protestants and the Catholics. It covers the time period largely from 1950 to the present. Delours Price grew up in the 50’s. Her philosophy was shaped by the interactions with family members who had been involved in the struggle for greater freedom. In 1969, the Belfast Uprising began as a demonstration demanding greater civil rights for Catholics, and was fashioned after the Martin Luther King’s marches. Delours Price was a participant. With her sister Marian, she became active in the movement, eventually participating in heinous behavior that the leaders of the cause justified. They believed they were Freedom Fighters engaging in a war and wanted to be treated as soldiers. Their loyalty and devotion to the cause was complete and unquestioned.
In 1972, in Belfast, Ireland, a mother of ten children disappears after a group barges into the home and spirits her away. Although the children hoped she would return, her eldest son,16-year-old Archie, accompanies her for part of her ordeal. He knows she would not come home again. Jean’s husband, a Catholic had recently died of Cancer. She was a Protestant living among Catholics. She was judged to be a traitor to the cause.
Although the children try desperately to stay together, social services eventually intervenes and separates them, placing those too young to live alone, in orphanages. Their lives are never the same. Jean’s body is not found for decades. When the members of the Revolutionary groups committed murder, they hid the evidence well. Their code of silence was sacrosanct. For most, their loyalty was eternal.
The project which created the Belfast Papers, from which a good deal of the information in this book is derived, was not supposed to be revealed until all those who gave confessions about their behavior during the time of the uprisings had died. However, because of an investigation, they were subpoenaed and opened decades later, revealing those that had committed crimes and broken their silence. Now, although they had thought they were safe from punishment, many though old and no longer a threat, were caught in the web and tried. They had betrayed the cause by revealing their involvement and society would now betray them. Would their punishment be deserved so many decades later? Should the sealed, secret records have been made public?
Prominent people were suddenly in the crosshairs of an investigation that could easily accuse them and convict them of murder. The most prominent accused who denied everything he was accused of, was Gerry Adams. He had risen to power holding positions in the government after his years of rebellion. Both Brendan Hughes and Delours Price fingered him as a member of the IRA, as someone who ordered the murders of many victims, but his denials were accepted.
There are so many iterations of the groups of Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries or Terrorists, whichever word you choose. Sometimes the timeline and the number of groups became confusing. I would suggest a brief excursion to a library or resource that could outline the period of time and the groups involved in the fight for greater civil rights and independence from Britain.
It will be up to the reader to determine whether the participants in the cause were terrorists, revolutionaries, freedom fighters, a combination of all or something in between. There will not be many neutral positions. The extensive amount of research took place over a period of four years. The author attests to the accuracy of what he has presented. It is based on interviews, records, newspaper articles, letters and more. When Boston College gave up its secret archive of confessions, it was a “treasure trove” of added facts and information. The confessions were not supposed to be revealed until all participants were deceased, but the subpoenas cancelled that contract with the participants and Brendan Hughes confession was damning. Fear raced through the community that was still alive.
During the time of the conflict, the methods used to interrogate and punish those found to be double agents, working against the IRA and other iterations of the “freedom fighting” groups (Sinn Fein, Republicans, Provos), were barbaric. The British Army’s tactics were little better as they fought back against those who wanted independence. The punishments meted out by the groups were copied from those used by Hitler during the Holocaust and were barbaric. Britain and the United States, justified the use of that same kind of torture, as well, after 9/11.
The history of hate existing between Protestants and Catholics, the desire of Northern Ireland to gain its independence and greater civil rights for the Catholics propelled the participants to blindly follow their leaders. Ultimately, it was with the help of the United States that a peaceful resolution was accomplished, largely ending the violence.
Although the book jumps around regarding the timeline as it reveals different events and crimes, and many characters are introduced, some familiar, some unknown to the reader, at no time is there any information that seems extraneous or unnecessary, and in the end, like a well sewn garment, it is complete and of high quality. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Dec 10, 2020 |
A fascinating piece of nonfiction. ( )
  sjanke | Dec 9, 2020 |
Fantastic!

A fantastic accounting of the Troubles, at least when it comes to the republican side. This mesmerizing book completely captured my attention, shedding light on things that I had just barely heard about. A masterpiece, highly recommended! ( )
  DPinSvezia | Nov 9, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick Radden Keefeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Archetti, StefanoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blaney, MatthewNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gil, RicardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munday, OliverCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.

-- Viet Thanh Nguyen
Dedication
TO LUCIAN AND FELIX
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JULY 2013

The John J. Burns Library occupies a grand neo-Gothic building on the leafy campus of Boston College.  (Prologue)
Jean McConville was thirty-eight when she disappeared, and she had spent nearly half of her life either pregnant or recovering from childbirth.
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""Meticulously reported, exquisitely written, and grippingly told, Say Nothing is a work of revelation." --David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon From award-winning New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe, a stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and its devastating repercussions In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville's children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress--with so many kids, McConville always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes. Patrick Radden Keefe's mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists--or volunteers, depending on which side one was on--such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace and denied his I.R.A. past, betraying his hardcore comrades--Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish"--"A narrative about a notorious killing that took place in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and its devastating repercussions to this day"--

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