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Nonfiction Review: Say Nothing by Patrick Reddon Keefe

Title: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Author: Patrick Raddon Keefe
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult nonfiction
Pages: 411 (including notes and index)
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map): Ireland and the UK

FTC Disclosure: I received this book as a gift

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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, 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.

Review: I have a tendency not to read the summary blurb of a book right before I read it so that I go in with no preconceived ideas. I think with nonfiction I need to stop doing this because the last two nonfiction books I've read haven't been quite what I expected.

I thought this book centered on a woman's abduction by the IRA and her family's story. If I had read the entire summary, I would have realized that the author used this story as a catalyst to look at the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland as a whole. That being said, if you are interested in the history of Protestants vs Catholics in Northern Ireland, the IRA, etc then you will really enjoy this book.

For me, it was too much detail, but it was indeed interesting. I feel like I have a much better grip on the players on both sides, the events that shook the area, why they feel the way they do, and more.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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