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Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike
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Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  592 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
In 1981 ten men starved themselves to death inside the walls of Long Kesh prison in Belfast. While a stunned world watched and distraught family members kept bedside vigils, one "soldier" after another slowly went to his death in an attempt to make Margaret Thatcher's government recognize them as political prisoners rather than common criminals.

Drawing extensively on secre
Paperback, 334 pages
Published January 10th 1997 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published May 14th 1987)
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Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is, without a doubt, one of the most harrowing and detailed accounts of the Irish Hunger Strike of the early 1980's that I have read to date.

Hailing from a land similarly rife with sectarian divisions (South Africa), the author David Beresford, a writer for the Guardian newsletter, succeeds fully in squarely illustrating the complicated temperament of conflict that led ten men to willingly starve themselves to death in a prison protest. Not once does the discussion lapse into blunt politics
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I chose to read this book because during one of my last trips to Gaza, I met one of the men who was supposed to join the 1981 Irish hunger strike. He didn't, because it was finally called off after 10 men died in their struggle to force the British government to treat them as political prisoners rather than "common" criminals. Although I found the book tedious to read at times because it was difficult to keep track of all of the players, as well as to figure out some of the code words and Irish ...more
Oct 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best works of non-fiction I've ever read. Even though it is from the perspective of the Republican Movement, the author is surprisingly objective. Although he does note that no one can actually be objective about the Troubles.
Jul 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: republicans and unionists alike
This is a journalistic account of the 1981 IRA Hunger Strikes, detailing with a keen eye the struggles of the prisoners and their families, the impact this had on the politics of Northern Ireland, and drawing parallels with earlier Irish struggles.

The book makes great use of the communiques smuggled in and out of the Maze Prison, and catches the dark humour of the men behind the wire - one prisoner who managed to smuggle in a pen, tobacco, a radio and a wad of messages became known as "The Suit
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Spring and Summer of 1981 had the world riveted as ten Irishmen starved themselves to death rather than wear prison clothing. Why did they do it? And how could they endure the agonizing pain as their bodies literally ate themselves. Beresford writes a poignant piece of journalism relating the story and the human beings involved. This is an emotional story, one of agony and triumph. To understand the hunger strikers and their conviction, this is a must read.
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
An important book in terms of contributing an objective point of view to the literature around the hunger strikes and the wider field of colonisation and resistance in general. Well-written, gripping but heartbreaking at the same time, it is a book I am sure I will be returning to in the future.
Brian Mcmahon
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
if you havn't read this read it now. What a sad moving story, that really shows the mentality on both sides, were no side could afford to lose, really lets you see what was going on inside & outside the Maze at that terrible time.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
As someone who makes his living as a journalist writing about pretty much the worst heartache, this book was even for me horribly depressing. It is an account of the ten Irish Republicans who starved themselves to death in prison in protest during the Thatcher-era. It tells each man's personal story, from the reasons for their arrests to their final moments.

This book was written for a United Kingdom audience and assumes readers have more knowledge of the Irish conflict than I did. I can't really
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Interested in Irish Affairs
Recommended to Kathleen by: Kelly
Shelves: current-affairs
Ten Men Dead offers very good insight into the 1980 Maze Hunger Strike. While it is a consuming read, it offers a balanced account of not only the hunger strike, but also the political, social and religious climate in Ireland at that time. The author also does a nice job explaining the context of the strike and prision, which I think dispells many misconceptions surrounding the IRA and its command structure as well as the resulting decisions of the prisoners. I also appreciated the level of deta ...more
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a good and thought-provoking book looking at the Irish troubles from the viewpoint of I.R.A. prisoners and their families. While not condoning the violence it does at least give you an idea as to the reason for it and as the hunger strikers die one by one it's pretty harrowing stuff and a total condemnation of politicians and their hypocrisy. I've read it loads of times and still find it moving
Sep 16, 2007 added it
The author was given unheard-of access to the IRA's library of "comms"--notes secretly sent in and out of Britain's most secure prison. Critics of the hunger strike say that the hunger strikers were forced to do it, but here you can read in their own words why they decided to have a hunger strike and what they went through.
Jan 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History Buffs/People interested in Northern Ireland
Very informative book. If you are interested in the 1980 Hunger Strikers in Northern Ireland, this is definitely a book for you. It has actually excerpts from notes smuggled out of prison from the hunger strikers which is really cool for history buffs. It is a tough read because of the many characters and historical aspects though.
Julie Browne
Jun 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
This story will make you cry your eyes out! a true story of the H block huger strikers that fought for Irish rights in a time where they were viewed as less than human by the British. Who in this story are the ones who do not deserve to be called human.
Pátraic Mc
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very harrowing and thought provoking read. Telling a story of comradeship, selflessness and courage, all in the pursuit of something bigger than themselves.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really interesting read but often difficult to follow. The author will use an individual's nickname for a while and then suddenly switch to their surname. There's a lot of expectation that the reader is quite familiar with the subject area, the names of all the hunger strikers and political figures, and the various unionist and nationalist groups. I also felt the ending was rushed, like he suddenly lost his momentum and just wanted to be done. The emotional impact of the story was powerful tho ...more
Kim Q.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Poignant and forward, Ten Men Dead breaks through the myth and intrigue of the Hunger Strike, and brings about the foiled dreams and helpless humanity of ten men determined to die for their cause. A more personal exploration of the men who comprised the strike that shook Thatcher England to their bone, with neither a positive or negative lean - more a straightforward revelation that the Troubles had brought a whirlwind of death, and ten men would not be the last. Nevertheless, they continued.
Melissa Maley
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"...a prisoner being admitted to Her Majesty's Prison..the ghosts of an ancient cause were looking over the shoulder of a convicted man. "
Malaka Mohammed
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What makes this book worth reading is its focus on personal stories of the Irish hunger strikers. You reach to a point where you need to cry of how unbearable their lives used to be. "Ten Men Dead" also presents the letters of the strikers that managed to send to the outside world. In a lot of instances, I feel like reading a story of a Palestinian hunger striker and how determined and committed to their rights. From a more personal perspective, I could link Bobby Sands to Samer Issawi. They are ...more
In 1981, a few prisoners – members of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) – decided to go on a hunger strike, unless 5 conditions were met - conditions the British government was not prepared to meet.

My mind wandered way too much. The book just couldn’t – for the most part – hold my attention. It might be because I don’t know enough Irish history or politics, or really understand what it was all about. While in prison, some of the IRA managed to pass hidden notes between them to communicate – I rea
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: northern-ireland
This is a magnificent book about the Republican hunger strikes of 1981 in Northern Ireland. It reads pretty much like a novel and gives an in depth journalistic account of the hunger strike, including detailed transcriptions of the communication between the inmates and the outside organisation. In my view a must read if you’re interested in the conflict in Northern Ireland. Having recently watched Steve McQueen’s film Hunger this book is striking in that it confirms much of the almost unbelievab ...more
"The battle to live was the battle to take water. If he did not hold it down the kidneys would not get flushed out and the poisons would begin to accumulate in his bloodstream, reaching his brain and killing him. But water had never seemed so revolting; he could smell it in its jug, as well as the ever-present food at the bottom of the bed. He tried to drink half a pint, then lie down on his bed and concentrate on holding it down. But it would come. As soon as he tried to get up the heaving star ...more
Joseph Rasmussen
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was really my first real step into the story Irish Hunger Strikers (besides basic research), and my recollection is based on my thoughts when I was a lot younger. However, I remember the extensive research and work involved in Ten Men Dead and was impressed when reading. It really does provide an incredible insight into the background of the troubles, and indeed to the Hunger Strike. The only minor criticism is at the outset the narrative tends to take on different courses when approaching ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was not an easy read. I took my time to let things digest as I went along. I am left with more questions than answers, such as how did the peace process progress after then end of the hunger strike. I was recently in Ireland/Northern Ireland, and it seems that the peace process has worked, but I wonder if that's a superficial face put on for the tourists.
Shaun Neil
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book a couple of times over a decade ago & want to read it again. The author gives as much of an unbiased account of Thatchers heinous government, as that of any Republican struggle.

A must for all students of politics. Machiavelli himself could take notes..............
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Good book, very quick read. If you are interested in Irish history this books gives a lot of eyewitness testimony and primary sources.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish-history
Very well researched and detailed to a large extent. Anyone who wants to read more into the modern conflict in Ireland should bear this book in mind.
Tom Blumer
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at the IRA's hunger strike in Long Kesh prison and the eventual political ramificaatins that resulted on both sides of the "The Troubles".
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
There are too many facts and side notes crammed into this book to make it a flowing narrative, but it did remind me what an awful leader Margaret Thatcher was.

Daniel Burton-Rose
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: prisons, guerrillas
Grim subject, powerful chronicle.
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Title 2 16 Jan 19, 2009 08:21AM  
  • On the Blanket: The Inside Story of the IRA Prisoners' "Dirty" Protest
  • Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life
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  • The Price of my Soul
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  • Those Are Real Bullets: Bloody Sunday, Derry, 1972
  • Nothing But an Unfinished Song: Bobby Sands, the Irish Hunger Striker Who Ignited a Generation
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