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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

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  44,226 ratings  ·  5,536 reviews
Patrick Radden Keefe writes an 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 o
Hardcover, 441 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Doubleday (first published November 1st 2018)
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Jen Coombes I came from a household where books were always permitted regardless of age and where censorship mostly came from myself. I could choose to put someth…moreI came from a household where books were always permitted regardless of age and where censorship mostly came from myself. I could choose to put something down if it was too difficult or if I felt the content might be inappropriate. So with that in mind, I would have no problem with a teenager reading this book. I will say that the book is at times dense and may not appeal to teens but I don't think the violence is problematic as it is explained through a historical perspective and from all sides. (less)
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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 famil ...more
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.

The novel follows events particularly centered in Belfast, beginning in 1969 through the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Bookending Radden Keefe's extraordinary compilation of this history is the story of a mother of ten, Jean McConville, who was forcibly taken from her home
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Shelves: netgalley
Breathtakingly haunting and good.

Patrick Radden Keefe tells the story of the conflict in Northern Ireland between the Irish nationalists, (Catholics) and the unionists, (Protestants) during the 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 to Doubleday, Patrick Radden Keefe and Netgalley
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
National Book Award nominee 2019
National Book Critics Circle nominee 2019

Fantastic history about The Troubles. I listened to the audiobook and was enthralled from page one.

The book really gave a good historical account of Northern Island during the difficulties with Britain. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the history and getting a more balanced account of what was going on. I felt for the individuals going through all the trauma. The Sisters were so amazing. They gave so much to their countr
Elyse  Walters
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook, read by Matthew Blaney.
Matthew has an engaging Irish accent and was easy to understand.

WOW & YIKES (as for this book)....
TRUE CRIME.....ha,....
in just 14 hours and 40 minutes!!!

.....I had no idea what I was getting into.
MY MOUTH DROPPED at the start.....( horrific tragedy).... not something I ever got over.

The storytelling was intimate with ordinary but real characters... who were IN TROUBLE!
.....fascinating & informative —most of the time—-
I started to zone out in parts of my l
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 r
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
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
IRA Terrorists kill innocent victim

Being of Irish heritage, my grandfather was a Quinn, I've always been intrigued by "The Troubles", but have never read a non-fiction book about it until now. This is a fine place to start. Keefe's story is heartbreaking and impeccably researched.
In 1972, Jean McConville was kidnapped from her home by a dozen women and men in disguise. She had about 8 of her 10 children living at home who witnessed her abduction. Her son Archie, 16 at the time, tried to go to wi
Johann (jobis89)
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” - Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Back in school when I was selecting which subjects I wanted to progress with for A-Level, my History teacher at the time tried to convince me to continue to study History. I told him that although I loved his classes, I knew we would cover more Northern Irish history and I just couldn’t face it. I had heard enough. It didn’t feel like “history” when it was still looming over our lives -
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
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Say Nothing" is a fascinating look at the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and it's one of the best nonfiction books I read in 2019. The author starts by sharing the gripping story of a mother who disappeared after being abducted by IRA members, which was some excellent true-crime writing and is a mystery that is woven throughout the narrative. It was a relief, for both the reader and the orphaned children of the mother, that by the end there is some closure to this sad event.

One of the things I l
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
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
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, audio, 2020
5 stars overall! 4 stars for narration.
And 10 million stars for content, research and a well written book on a complicated topic!

Even though I’m an American citizen, I’ve always been fascinated by the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
I’m not that knowledgeable about the political and bloody war that happened for almost 3 decades, so take this review for what it is. I did not live through this complicated time or raised in Ireland.

I AM of Irish and Scottish decent and think that’s why I’ve always bee
David Schaafsma
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, true-crime
“Who should be held accountable for a shared history of violence? It was a question that was dogging Northern Ireland as a whole.”

“If you could just get people to talk, he believed, the most bitter antagonists could discover common ground.”

“Say nothing!” Delours Price, to her collaborators, as they faced prison in London for participating in an IRA bombing of key London sites.

Here’s Seamus Heaney’s poem, "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing"(1975) as written:

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
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?
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
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
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 development of the Pr
As Cole Porter said: Always start on a five star, always end on one. ... or something like that anyway. :) I got lucky enough to break my nearly two year drought of books I wanted to give five stars to with my very last read of 2019... and here I go again with the first one of 2020. I’ve been eyeing this for months, waiting for a chance to have the time to truly dig into it and the headspace to absorb it. I’m so glad I did. A bit of a warning note though: This book will tell you it’s about an un ...more
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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-selling book. Som
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?
* 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 writing and a nomine
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.
Canadian Reader
“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 h ...more
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
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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

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There is nothing like reading a history or biography book and being so completely transported to another time and place that you find...
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“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” 18 likes
“if you could just get people to talk, he believed, the most bitter antagonists could discover common ground.” 8 likes
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