Read by Matthew Blaney
Published February 2019 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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 of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville's children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress—with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.
Patrick Radden Keefe's mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace but betrayed his hardcore comrades by denying his I.R.A. past—Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.
In 2013, Patrick Keefe happened upon the obituary of Dolours Price, formerly a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. He knew a great story when he saw one. After reading that obituary, Keefe began a four year journey that would take him to Ireland seven times and have him interviewing more than 100 people. Many people refused to be interviewed and others backed out - The Troubles may have ended, but the fear had not left Northern Ireland. Many of the primary "characters" in the book were either dead or refused to be interviewed. Keefe was left to piece together the truth, as best he could, from other interviews and extensive research.
|Top to bottom, left to right: Marian and Dolours Price at|
10 Downing Street, Dolours Price, Dolours Price from the
book cover, Dolours and Marian Price at the march that
radicalized them, Marian's and Dolour's mug shots.
|Jean McConville with three of her children, Gerry Adams|
and Brendan Hughs at Long Kesh internment camp, newspaper
headline about the death of Bobby Sands, the aftermath of the Old
Bailey bombing for which Dolours and Marian were arrested.
Matthew Blaney is marvelous reading the book but the audiobook doesn't include the notes. They weren't necessary for me to be blown away by the book: I didn't even know they existed until the end of the book. But once I was aware for them, I really wished I had a copy of the physical book to refer to while I listened. If you're going to read this book, and get your hands on both the audio and print book, I certainly suggest you do that.
If you're looking for a book filled with fascinating people, a little known history (at least in the U.S.), and a remarkably well-told tale, I'd highly recommend Say Nothing.