NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Empire of Pain—a stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and its devastating repercussions
A New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year • Long Listed for the National Book Award • Winner of the Orwell Prize • TIME Magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of the Year • Best Book of the Decade by EW and LitHub
"Masked intruders dragged Jean McConville, a 38-year-old widow and mother of 10, from her Belfast home in 1972. In this meticulously reported book—as finely paced as a novel—Keefe uses McConville's murder as a prism to tell the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Interviewing people on both sides of the conflict, he transforms the tragic damage and waste of the era into a searing, utterly gripping saga." —New York Times Book Review
Jean McConville's 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, she had 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 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 but betrayed his hardcore comrades by denying his I.R.A. past--Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.
Look for Patrick Radden Keefe's latest bestseller, Empire of Pain
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing delivers an engrossing and evenhanded survey of the deadly terrorist activity that locals in Northern Ireland called the Troubles. An ongoing sectarian battle rooted in the 1922 civil war, the Troubles escalated during the ’70s and ’80s with deadly bombings and targeted assassinations. A precarious cease-fire took hold in the ’90s, but Keefe’s reporting makes it clear that some emotional scars remain. Paced with the breathless intensity of a thriller, this excellent book portrays the human cost of this devastating conflict with compassion—and without taking sides.
New Yorker staff writer Keefe (Snakehead) incorporates a real-life whodunit into a moving, accessible account of the violence that has afflicted Northern Ireland. The mystery concerns Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10, who was snatched from her Belfast home by an IRA gang in 1972. While Keefe touches on historical antecedents, his real starting point is the 1960s, when advocates of a unified Ireland attempted to emulate the nonviolent methods of the American civil rights movement. The path from peaceful protests to terrorist bombings is framed by the story of Dolours Price, who became involved as a teenager and went on to become a central figure in the IRA. While formal charges were never brought against republican leader Gerry Adams in McConville's murder, Keefe makes a persuasive case that McConville was killed at his order for being an informer to the British and the author's dogged detective work enables him to plausibly name those who literally pulled the trigger. Tinged with immense sadness, this work never loses sight of the humanity of even those who committed horrible acts in support of what they believed in.
This non fiction reads like a novel. It makes sense of a time I understood only from the evening news of my childhood. I highly recommend
Gaps and too many characters
If this had been told from the perspective of just a few people then I could stay engaged. Sadly, each little chapter in book one introduces more people that crowd my brain and creates confusion.
I think this book’s story could be told more directly and possibly might be better in a documentary rather than a book. I didn’t finish this book due to frustration.