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Say Nothing
Cover of Say Nothing
Say Nothing
A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR - TIME MAGAZINE
ONE OF THE BEST 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR - WASHINGTON POST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
WINNER OF THE ORWELL PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
"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, Ten Best Books of the Year
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, 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.
One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR - TIME MAGAZINE
ONE OF THE BEST 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR - WASHINGTON POST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
WINNER OF THE ORWELL PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
"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, Ten Best Books of the Year
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, 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.
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  • From the book Book Two

    Human Sacrifice

    11

    Close England!

    THE CROCUSES WERE ALREADY in bloom around London's parks and monuments on March 8, 1973. It was a Thursday, a crisp, crystalline early-spring morning. After a wet English winter, people were venturing outdoors, beckoned by the sun. The Queen left Buckingham Palace to inspect the first blooms in her garden. There was a transit strike that day, and with train service suspended, commuters were forced to drive into the city. As a result, central London was overrun with automobiles. In order to accommodate the surge of vehicles, the city had suspended parking restrictions for the day. Cars were everywhere—in loading zones and other areas that were usually off-limits, or at meters that had long since expired.

    Just after lunchtime, at around 2 p.m., a phone rang at the headquarters of The Times of London. A young woman named Elizabeth Curtis, who had just started working on the news desk at the paper, picked up the call. She heard a man's voice, speaking very quickly, with a thick Irish accent. At first she couldn't make out what he was saying, then she realized that he was reeling off the descriptions and locations of a series of cars. He spoke for just over a minute, and, though she was still confused, she transcribed as much as she could. Before hanging up, the man said, "The bombs will go off in one hour."

    A journalist named Martin Huckerby was on duty that day in the newsroom. He overheard Curtis dictating details about the bombs to one of her colleagues. The nearest of the locations she mentioned was the Old Bailey, the central criminal court in London, just a short walk from The Times. Huckerby bolted out of the office. He was looking for a green Ford Cortina Estate with a license plate that, assuming Curtis had transcribed it correctly, read YNS 649K. Huckerby left the office at 2 p.m. and arrived at the monumental stone courthouse a few minutes later. Built at the turn of the century, the Old Bailey had been the site of many celebrated trials. A great dome sat atop the heavy masonry, with a bronze figure of Justice, her arms outstretched, holding a sword and a set of scales.

    Dozens of cars were parked around the building, and Huckerby began checking them to see if he could find the Cortina. Before long, he spotted it, parked right in front of the courthouse: a green Cortina Estate with the license plate YFN 469K, close enough to what he was looking for that he was sure this was it. Peering through the glass at the car's interior, he saw a pair of black gloves on the floor and an aerosol can. Huckerby waited for the police to come, and eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, two uniformed officers arrived at 2:33 and inspected the Cortina. They started evacuating people in the area, cordoning off the road. Huckerby took cover in a doorway, about twenty-five yards from the Cortina, and waited.



    The plan to bring the bombing campaign to England had been, at least in part, Dolours Price's idea. The IRA had detonated hundreds of bombs in commercial centers throughout Northern Ireland. If the goal was to cripple the economy, this effort had been a success. But the collateral damage was considerable. For civilians in Northern Ireland, whether Catholic or Protestant, the routine bombings could make life impossible: suddenly you were taking your life into your hands when you went to the shop for a dozen eggs. It might not have been the intention of the IRA to create civilian casualties, but there were civilian casualties, lots of them, and they were borne by Catholics and Protestants alike. Bloody Friday was an especially grave debacle, but it was hardly...
About the Author-
  • PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE is a staff writer at The New Yorker, an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of The Snakehead and Chatter. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Slate, New York, and The New York Review of Books, among others and he is a frequent commentator on NPR, the BBC, and MSNBC. Patrick received the 2014 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, for his story "A Loaded Gun," was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 2015 and 2016, and is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2018
    Half a century after the fact, a cold case in Northern Ireland provides a frame for a deeply observed history of the Troubles.In 1972, though only 38, Jean McConville was the mother of 10, trying to raise them on a widow's pension in a cloud of depression--a walking tale of bad luck turned all the worse when she comforted a wounded British soldier, bringing the dreaded graffito "Brit lover" to her door. Not long after, masked guerrillas took her from her home in the Catholic ghetto of Belfast; three decades later, bones found on a remote beach were identified as hers. These events are rooted in centuries of discord, but, as New Yorker staff writer Keefe (The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream, 2009, etc.) recounts, the kidnapping and killing took place in the darkest days of the near civil war between Catholics and Protestants. Another Belfast graffito of the time read, "If you're not confused you don't know what's going on," and the author does an excellent job of keeping an exceedingly complicated storyline on track. At its heart is Gerry Adams, who eventually brokered the truce between warring factions while insisting that he was never a member of the IRA, whose fighters killed McConville. "Of course he was in the IRA," said an erstwhile comrade. "The British know it. The people on the street know it. The dogs know it on the street." Yet, as this unhappy story shows, one of the great sorrows of Northern Ireland is that naming murderers, even long after their crimes and even after their deaths, is sure to bring terrible things on a person even today. Keefe's reconstruction of events and the players involved is careful and assured. Adams himself doubtless won't be pleased with it, although his cause will probably prevail. As the author writes, "Adams will probably not live to see a united Ireland, but it seems that such a day will inevitably come"--perhaps as an indirect, ironic result of Brexit.A harrowing story of politically motivated crime that could not have been better told.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    In 1972, Jean McConville, single mother of ten, was believed to be an informant for the British army. For that reason, she was kidnapped by a group of masked IRA (Irish Republican Army) members and never heard from again. Three decades later, her remains were uncovered. Sandwiched in the decades in-between was the violent conflict in Northern Ireland commonly known as the Troubles. The story of McConville and the Troubles is told here by New Yorker staff writer Keefe (The Snakehead and Chatter). Shifting focus between the people involved in the IRA, such as Dolours Price, Gerry Adams, and Brendan Hughes, and McConville and her family, the author illustrates how interconnected Northern Ireland was during the conflict and how trauma, as well as silence about trauma, can destroy individuals, families, and communities. Drawing on controversial oral histories from Boston College as well as personal interviews, archival materials, affidavits, newspapers, memoirs, and a variety of other sources, Keefe blends threads of espionage, murder mystery, and political history into a single captivating narrative. VERDICT Keefe deftly turns a complicated and often dark subject into a riveting and informative page-turner that will engage readers of both true crime and popular history.--Timothy Berge, West Virginia Univ., Morgantown

    Copyright 1 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Say Nothing
Say Nothing
A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Patrick Radden Keefe
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