Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe Book Review
The lowdown from Goodreads
Publication Date February 26, 2019
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 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, McConville 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–or volunteers, depending on which side one was on–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 and denied his I.R.A. past, betraying his hardcore comrades–Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe Book Review
A deep dive into the crime-ridden & tumultuous history of Northern Ireland.
What Happened to Jean?
Immediately, I need to know what happened to Jean McConville. As soon as the mother of ten is kidnapped from her home, I’m fully invested in this book. Jean’s story is terrifying & my heart breaks for her ten children.
Quickly, Keefe introduces us to the Price sisters, Marian & Dolours. We learn of their fight for an independent Ireland through their militant & dangerous behavior. Through Keefe’s writing & reporting, I’m able to understand the Price sisters are complicated. Their strongly held beliefs that Ireland should be Independent is shrouded in secrecy, murder & lies. I found them both despicable, yet I was intrigued by their devotion to their cause.
Full of Important History
Get ready for the best kind of history lesson. No doubt Patrick Radden Keefe does his due diligence with Say Nothing. While reading this novel, I’m enthralled with all the details & history surrounding Northern Ireland & Great Britain. If you’re not a history or crime buff, just give it a bit. Like anything worth having, the story takes time. Keefe builds the (very true) narrative bit by bit. Before you know it, you’re fully engrossed in this time period. By the end, I’m burning through the pages.
Uncovering the Truth
For me, the heart of the story is family & ideals. We see how the ideals of an individual group affect so many. Despite countless crimes, attacks & so many secrets, the cause of the Price sisters (& their brethren) is not successful to date.
With horrible crimes, victims can often be forgotten. We know all too well that it’s not just victims who suffer, but also their families. Readers come to know how the kidnapping of Jean changed the life of all her children in different ways. I appreciate how much time Keefe spent discussing the children of Jean McConville.
During his research, Keefe possibly solves a huge part of the Jean McConville disappearance. This is where his journalism skills shine the best. Through years of research, he’s pieced together so much. So, when looking at a particular statement, something clicks. It’s pretty amazing & you can read more about it here.
I am Really Into This book! Patrick Radden Keefe writes a historical true-crime masterpiece with Say Anything. As I’m writing this review & discussing the story with my Dad, I realize how much I learned reading this book. Say Anything is timely, enthralling & informative.
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Patrick Radden Keefe is an award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and the author of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland; The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream; and Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping. He started contributing to The New Yorker in 2006 and has written articles about the chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain, the hunt for the drug lord Chapo Guzman, the tragic personal history of the mass shooter Amy Bishop, and the role that the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma played in sparking the opioid crisis. He received the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing in 2014, and was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 2015 and 2016.
Patrick grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts and went to college at Columbia. He received masters degrees from Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, and a JD from Yale Law School. In addition to The New Yorker, his work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and other publications. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the New America Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.
He lives in New York.
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