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

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On a winter night in 1972, a mother of ten named Jean McConville was dragged from her home in Belfast by a masked gang.  She never returned.

Her forced disappearance was just one in a series of similar abductions that occurred over a span of years in Northern Ireland during the turbulent and violent time called the Troubles.  In Say Nothing, Patrick Radden Keefe probes the darkest moments of the Troubles, exploring its history and its central figures — from victims like Jean McConville to infamous guerrilla operative Delours Price and slippery IRA-leader-turned-politician Gerry Adams. 

Say Nothing is a meticulously researched yet gripping read, with every page illuminating both the horror and the humanity of the Troubles. 

“Barricades sprang up around Catholic neighborhoods as people hijacked school buses and bread vans and turned them on their sides to block off streets and create defensive fortifications.  Young Catholics pried up paving stones to pile onto barricades or to throw at police.  Alarmed by this onslaught, the RUC deployed squat armored vehicles, known as Pigs, which lumbered through the narrow streets, their gun turrets swiveling in all directions.  Stones rained down on them as they passed. Petrol bombs broke open on their steel bonnets, blue flame spilling out like the contents of a cracked egg. 

There were moments of anarchic poetry: a bulldozer that someone had left on a building site was liberated by a couple of kids, who sat atop the huge machine and drove it jauntily down a West Belfast street, to great whoops and cheers from their compatriots. At a certain point the boys lost control of their hulking steed and crashed into a telegraph pole — where somebody immediately lobbed a petrol bomb at the bulldozer and it burst into flames.” 

Patrick Radden Keefe is an American journalist and writer. His work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The New York Review of BooksThe New York Times Magazine, and Slate. His books include Say Nothing, The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream, and Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping.

Published: 2018
Length: 464 pages
Main Setting: Belfast and surrounding area, Northern Ireland, U.K.
Secondary Setting: London, England, U.K.