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

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  11,526 ratings  ·  1,834 reviews
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 abducti
Hardcover, 441 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Doubleday Books (first published November 1st 2018)
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Average rating 4.47  · 
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Start your review of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Harrowing. I’ve always wanted a book that could describe simply and clearly what happened in Ireland during The Troubles. Not being Irish, I’ve too often felt the pall of incomprehensibility daunting me. I never found the right book, until now. Say Nothing is indeed that longed-for book. The prose is just perfectly freighted, and the reader is hoovered into the narrative maelstrom from the very first page with the mad scene of Jean McConville being torn from the arms of her huge and loving family—never ...more
I wish it weren't only February because the statement 'this is the best book I've read all year' does not carry very much weight when we still have 10 months to go. But, nonetheless, this is my reigning book of 2019. And it ended up being one of those rare cases when the book turned out so differently from what I expected, but I ended up liking it all the more for that. From the blurb I got the impression that this was going to focus on the disappearance of a woman called Jean McConville, with d ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Breathtakingly haunting and good.

Patrick Radden Keefe tells the story of the conflict in Northern Ireland between the Irish nationalists, the Catholics, and the unionists, the Protestants, in a time described as The Troubles.

This book is very well researched, it is harrowing and it focuses largely on the human cost.

I believed myself to be relatively well-informed on this topic before I read this book. I wasn't.

I cannot recommend enough!

Thank you t
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-read
Very impressive, Radden Keefe. Very impressive indeed.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland is an intricate and moving piece of narrative nonfiction concerning The Troubles in the North of Ireland, particularly centered in Belfast, beginning in 1969 through the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Bookending Radden Keefe's extraordinary compilation of these events is the story of a mother of ten, Jean McConville, who was forcibly taken from her home in late 1972, beco/>Say
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“[A] pair of dispassionate [IRA] gunmen were sent from Belfast. Before the killing, they summoned a priest. This was not unusual: there were certain priests in that era who grew accustomed to the late-night phone call. They would be summoned outside by gruff men who were about to perform an execution and asked to deliver the last rites. The act of killing itself had a ritual character, a practiced choreography…A bag is placed over your head. Your hands are bound behind your back. You kneel in th ...more
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything you have heard or read about this book is true. Say Nothing is THE nonfiction book of 2019. My review specifically will focus on my experience with the Audiobook.

In Belfast, history is alive-and dangerous

What compels an American journalist living in the United States to bring forth to readers the political violence that held the Irish public in a vice grip from 1916-1998? For Patrick Radden Keefe, it wasn't his 19th century Irish roots on his father's side. It was to bring to reader
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
After reading a history-rich fictional pentalogy about the Irish struggles, I could not help but turn to Patrick Radden Keefe’s book. Keefe takes the reader into the heart of the Anglo-Irish conflict, particularly as it developed in Northern Ireland (or the North of Ireland, depending on which side you support). Keefe explores how the simmering tensions of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against the British Army and Ulster (Protestant) majority in the six remaining counties turned out to be some ...more
Valerity (Val)
I’ve always been under-informed about the situation in Ireland and reading Say Nothing was a great way to cure that problem. It gives great history on the long-standing feud between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, and the problem with England getting involved in Ireland’s affairs for hundreds of years. It shares the story of the widowed 38-year-old mum of 10, Jean McConville, who is taken from her apartment one December night in 1972 by a threatening masked group, (IRA, but unsaid) and ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Must it be the case that who one perceives a tragedy will forever depend on where one sits? The anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss once observed that, 'for a majority of the human species, and for tens of thousands of years, the idea that humanity includes every human being on the face of the earth does not exist at all. The designation stops at the border of each tribe, or linguistic group, sometimes even at the edge of a village.' When it came to the Troubles, a phenomenon known as "whatabout ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
It took me a long time to get through this audiobook, but it was definitely worth it. I grew up in Canada hearing about the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, but I only had the vaguest idea of Irish history. Last summer, I was in the Republic of Ireland and really appreciated the vivid introduction to Irish history and culture. I seem to have caught the bug, because this summer I will be traveling to Northern Ireland. Say Nothing is a great look at some of the causes and consequences of the North’ ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I reached young adulthood around the time that the Troubles in Northern Ireland broke out and were a constant occurrence on the TV and in newspapers. Since then, I have forgotten how terrible this struggle was. Subsequently, it became clear that it was even worse than it appeared on the news. With Patrick Keefe’s new book, Say Nothing, it is clear that the Troubles were even worse than that. It is amazing to me that they were brought to any peaceful conclusion. This is a detailed account of an e ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
National Book Award for Nonfiction Longlist 2019. Keefe provides a valuable historical perspective of the Troubles in Northern Ireland that claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 people between the late 1960s and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. One is reminded of the brutal tactics pursued by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British military in response to Catholic non-violent protests—including Bloody Sunday when 28 unarmed civilians were shot and 14 died.

Keefe follows the developme
Julie Christine
Right now, the only visible sign that you've crossed the border between the United Kingdom and Ireland is the change on road signs from miles to kilometers. In the twenty-one years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in Belfast, signaling an end to the decades-long conflict known as the 'Troubles', the checkpoints have come down, the armed border patrols have been decommissioned, the observation towers are nowhere to be seen.

With Brexit looming, however, the visible division between the
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I married a Belfast man and was astonished and enthralled by his, and his family's, stories about the euphemistically named "Troubles". His uncle was a prison guard in Long Kesh and told how the opposing factions in jail would put on a show of aggression and enmity for camera-wielding reporters and, once they had left, go back to joking and chatting. He thought they were all idiots - "even those Orange bastards. Sure, they're no better than the other ones". His cousin was in the RUC and told of ...more
* 4.5 *

A work of narrative non fiction I wish I had read prior to reading Milkman and For the Good Times. This is a stellar bit of work that manages to convey the complexities of “The Troubles” while not letting the weight of all that history bog it down. By allowing the reader a hook with the story of Jean McConville it is constantly reminding you of the cost of political violence and asking does the ends justify the means ?
A worthy winner of the Orwell prize for political fiction and a nominee
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Blazin' banshees!
Unbelievably bloody brutality....
lyin' Gerry feckin' Adams....
Who in feck did he tink tey were to judge, condemn and take lives and destroy families?
Donna Davis
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Irish struggle.
The Irish have fought against oppressive British rule for centuries, but for many the most interesting—and for some of us, emotionally charged—period is that known as The Troubles, which unfolded in 1969 as Irish youth, inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the Civil Rights movement in the United States, sought to carve out some rights for working people living in the North of Ireland and concluded in 1997 following the ceasefire agreement struck between Sinn Fein, which was then the political ar ...more
Lark Benobi
Incredible reportage. Terrific writing. I wish it hadn't happened.

One of the best examples of narrative non-fiction I've read since Truman Capote created the genre with In Cold Blood, and, like In Cold Blood, I wish it didn't need to be written, and maybe also I wish that I hadn't read it.

It's important to be apprised of what humans can do to one another, but sometimes it leaves me feeling so weary and defeated, to have the truth about us presented to me so baldly.
Natasha Niezgoda
I couldn't finish this audiobook. I FEEL TERRIBLE. But I had a difficult time following along between the narration and the plotline. It kept jumping between the murder and then the history of Belfast. So by the time you reconnected with the murder, the details were fuzzy because you had just listened to an hour of religion versus state historical facts. Does that make sense?
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-new-books
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

She stands in front of a brick wall somewhere in West Belfast in 1972. The bottom of her face is covered by a balaclava, only her eyes and red hair, fashioned in a boyish haircut, are visible. She could be a young man. She is wearing a trench coat with her arms crossed intentionally looking like a toughie. Her name is Dolours Price, she is a member of the IRA and she is posing for an Italian magazine. The photo of her is the cover of this best-selli
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe details the decades-long bloody conflict, known as The Troubles, in Northern Ireland between all factions involved.

Through the book, Keefe does an excellent job of bringing forward the history of the conflict in an understandable way for all readers. In his detailing of the violence, Keefe aptly provides the reader with enough explanation that shows this is not just a Catholic or Protestant conflict, or for that matter, a British or Irish conflict
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I will be surprised if this book does not win some literary awards. It details the decades-long violent conflict in Northern Ireland (a/k/a The Troubles) between the Protestant majority, the Catholic minority, and the British. The book is very well-researched with 75? pages of annotated footnotes, but suffers some in my opinion, from the introduction of too many people, in an attempt to be all-inclusive. There are essentially four main characters: Jean McConville (mother of ten, who is one of th ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
From the description of this book, I thought it was mostly about Jean McConville, the woman who disappeared during the Troubles. And I thought that the history of the Troubles would come second, but I was much mistaken. Jean is barely mentioned in the first half of the book and instead we are treated to an in depth discussion of what the Troubles were and what led to them, with introductions to far too many characters for me to keep track of. The more I read, the more I wished the author would f ...more
4.5 stars

Absolutely riveting. The author personalizes the Troubles by following a handful of individuals who were in the thick of it. Their stories are gripping & sad, poignantly reflecting the effects of decades of war. It's exhaustively researched (as evidenced by 60 pages of notes & a 5 page bibliography at the end) & clearly lays out the history from early 1900's to present day. Written in an unbiased & eminently readable style, Keefe presents all sides whenever p
“I became intrigued by the idea that an archive of the personal reminiscences of ex-combatants might be so explosive: what was it about these accounts that was so threatening in the present day? In the intertwining lives of Jean McConville [a 38-year-old mother of 10, who was “disappeared” in 1972 by the IRA], Dolours Price [a key IRA “volunteer” involved in the 1973 London car-bomb attacks], Brendan Hughes [a prominent IRA tactician], and Gerry Adams [the enigmatic leader of Sinn Fein, who has ...more
When Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries died, some people said “Dreams” or “Linger” was the band’s best song. But for many people, myself include, it was “Zombie”, the song about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It isn’t that the U2 songs about it are bad – “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” is powerful – but “Zombie” is so rare that powerful doesn’t even begin to describe it. It is the sense of horrible lose and pain.

And you can’t help but think of that song why reading Keefe’s account of
Roman Clodia
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Completely unputdownable, this moves beyond a dry history of the Troubles by focusing in the first two sections on the activities, actions and convictions of four people involved in the Provisional IRA (though Adams continues to deny his own involvement): the sisters Dolours and Marian Price, Brendan Hughes and Gerry Adams.

It's in the third section that the 'memory' of the title comes in as Keefe explores the post-Good Friday Agreement narrativisation and the personal and national reckoning tha
Susan Johnson
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I generally don't read non-fiction but the two best books I have read this year are that genre and this is one of them. I have always wanted to read a clear, concise and understandable book about the Irish troubles. I am going to admit my prejudices here. I have never understood why anyone would want the British in their country. Now I get it, for their protection. I think the U.S. sympathy was always with the IRA and I remember the activism in the 1970's for them. I think this is our natural i ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book almost two weeks ago, and last week attended a class or what is called “spotlight” at my local indie bookstore on the book. But it has been busy so I am just settling down now to write a review. I have read many books about “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland over a few decades. This is one of the better books I have read on the subject. This book tells the story of events that occurred over 45 years ago. The author, Patrick Radden Keefe, had the privilege of describing this ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk, ireland

Pretty riveting, especially for an idiot like me who knew nothing about the Troubles.

Like a long, well-written magazine article, this is a history told through the intertwined stories of a number of the principal figures. Dolours Price, for example, who drove ‘touts’ to their deaths across the border in the Republic, whose idea it was to export car bombings to London, and who later married the actor Stephen Rea (a Protestant), from The Crying Game; Brandon Hughes, the man of action whose
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Saddened but grateful 3 23 May 10, 2019 03:48PM  
Goodreads Ireland: QIR Q2 2019: Say Nothing 1 23 Apr 14, 2019 12:58PM  
NPR Book Club: Book for March 2019-Say Nothing 1 21 Mar 01, 2019 10:58AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions - "Say Nothing" by Patrick Radden Keefe 2 19 Dec 31, 2018 07:41AM  

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Patrick Radden Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker 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. He 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 t ...more
“Claude Lévi-Strauss once observed that, “for the majority of the human species, and for tens of thousands of years, the idea that humanity includes every human being on the face of the earth does not exist at all. The designation stops at the border of each tribe, or linguistic” 2 likes
“if you could just get people to talk, he believed, the most bitter antagonists could discover common ground.” 1 likes
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