2019, Books, Non-Fiction

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

This is an excellent account of the disappearance of a mother of 10 during The Troubles and the surrounding context. My knowledge of The Troubles comes almost exclusively from films (mostly fictionalized) but Radden Keefe’s book gives a lot of context and history for someone like me who is pretty new to the subject.

Though ostensibly about one particular crime, this book is far more about the context that crime occurred in and the lives of some of the people who may have been responsible. Radden Keefe divides it into three parts: concerning the initial murder and the surrounding world it occurred in, the hunger strikes and the peace process, and the reckoning (or lack thereof) post Good Friday Agreement. It is extremely readable and a real page-turner despite the horrible things discussed in the book. This is a world entirely unfamiliar to me – I grew up in an extremely peaceful place – but Radden Keefe transports you to this world and gives us some glimpse into why some of these people did the things they did.

The nature of all of this is controversial and he does a great job handling it, balancing reasonable certainty about some specifics with lots of information about how hard it is to get the facts straight and how hard it is to deal with this stuff which essentially occurred during an undeclared war. Though part 3 sometimes feels like a different book, it is entirely necessary to the first two parts, given what has happened and hasn’t happened with the main case and so many other cases.

I have very little to say in criticism. Maybe that would be different if I knew anything about the subject but I really don’t. For me, this is what I want a nonfiction narrative book to be like: gripping, eye-opening, a page-turner, but reflective.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.