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Say Nothing

A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Narrated by: Matthew Blaney
Length: 14 hrs and 40 mins
5 out of 5 stars (208 ratings)
Regular price: $29.95
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Publisher's Summary

"Resolutely humane...Say Nothing [has an] exacting and terrifying lucidity...meticulously reported...Keefe's narrative is an architectural feat, expertly constructed out of complex and contentious material, arranged and balanced just so...an absorbing drama." (The New York Times)

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 38-year-old mother of 10, 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 IRA 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 audiobook 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 IRA 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 IRA 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 IRA 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 IRA past - Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.

©2019 Patrick Radden Keefe (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Meticulously reported, exquisitely written, and grippingly told, Say Nothing is a work of revelation. Keefe not only peels back, layer by layer, the truth behind one of the most important and mysterious crimes of a terrible conflict; he also excavates the history of the Troubles, and illuminates its repercussions to this day." (David Grann, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Killers of the Flower Moon)

"Patrick Radden Keefe's gripping account of the Troubles is equal parts true-crime, history, and tragedy. Keefe's incisive reporting reveals the hidden costs of the Troubles, illuminating both the terrible toll of the conflict, and how it continues to reverberate today. A must read." (Gillian Flynn, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Gone Girl

“Patrick Radden Keefe uses the old Irish phrase, ‘Whatever you say, say nothing,’ to suggest and to say just about everything.  Keefe's great accomplishment is to capture the tragedy of the Troubles on a human scale. By tracing the intersecting lives of a handful of unforgettable characters, he has created a deeply honest and intimate portrait of a society still haunted by its own violent past. Say Nothing is a bracing, empathetic, heartrending work of storytelling.” (Colum McCann, New York Times best-selling author of Transatlantic and Let the Great World Spin, winner of the National Book Award)  

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On a par with I'll Be Gone in the Dark, plus...

a tremendous portrait of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970's and 1980's. Even if you aren't particularly interested in Irish history, this reads in large part like a detective novel. What the McConville family went through after the widowed mother of ten is kidnapped and murdered by the IRA is harrowing, and I felt myself with a heavy heart at many points in the book. Various people characterize the man suspected by most as having ordered the hit (and the murders of many others) as a sociopath, Machiavellian, a man in complete denial, or a statesman. The book raises the painful questions throughout: are brutal acts forgivable in the creation of a new country/society? are they necessary? The people described so beautifully and so poignantly will stay with me for a long, long time. The experience of the hunger strikers and others imprisoned for IRA crimes, the PTSD and dark nights of the soul that never end...all combine to create a memorable book. Plus, the narrator is perfect. He speaks in a quiet, intimate tone as if giving you confidential information. He never over-dramatizes and in fact conveys a quiet reverence for the experiences of the people portrayed. I stayed up much too late for two nights, hating to put this excellent book down. PS If at first the Northern Ireland accent is hard, give it time.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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A Well Researched and Hopeful Book

Took a while to get into the book. But once I did I was hooked! The book is a beautiful embroidering of time, politics, people and place. It is history and prediction. The stories are harrowing, uplifting, heartbreaking, and oh so maddening. It’s impossible to listen to this book without forming a deep respect for those directly affected. The road to peace fractured friendships, isolated and exposed the darker, murkier aspects of a struggle. It required extraordinary sacrifices. Many willingly paid the ultimate price.

It is a stinging indictment of whole communities and a sobering less of society’s cruelty towards the other. The treatment of the McConville children by neighbors, public institutions and the Catholic Church is particularly heartbreaking. This book is as much about Ireland as it is about the human condition: injustice breeds violence, violence begats violence, wrapping all. The book is a cautionary tale against oppression and denial of security, social, economic and political opportunities to ethnic minorities. Institutional injustice and terror has never stilled a martyr’s cause. Those who seek change by violent means are on a slippery slope. We know all this, but what this book does so well is highlighting the granular level at which this happens and the impact on individuals, groups, organizations, and the state.

A beautifully narrated well crafted and researched book. A hopeful book for those seeking closure and justice. It will take a while to part company with the characters. The education I got from this book will last a life time.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Outstanding, in-depth study of one of the great mysteries of The Troubles. The author describes the testimony, history and character of each participant in this epic tragedy with as clear an eye as possible, attempting to mine a defining truth from an era of passion and chaos. A brilliant true-crime story and history lesson at once, and the first 5 star rating I’ve given in ages.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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An excellent and compelling listen

Although at times appearing as an apologia of Republican terrorism, this is an excellent, compelling yet ultimately very depressing book.

What struck me the most were the intense feelings of betrayal that former IRA terrorists felt towards the political leadership of Sinn Fein. Following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, many of the IRA’s fighters ended up asking themselves whether the murder, torture and terrorism the were participants in, had even been worth it. Many of these former terrorists suffered from PTSD, and continue to do so today.
Finally, the book debunks Gerry Adams’ claims to have never been a member of the IRA. In fact, the book argues, he was its leader.
This

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kari
  • Nebraska
  • 03-11-19

Enlightening

Like any Irish-American kid growing up in the 80's I was aware of the "Troubles" but it seemed so far removed from me that it didn't quite register on my radar. This gives a harrowing view into both sides of the conflict and how it's not so simple to say "so and so was a terrorist" or "zealot". They spread horror for sure but you also get the point of view here of the IRA members/former members regrets as time passes and they look back on what they had done and how the ideal they believed so strongly in, vanished. It just gives such a great insight into the complications of religious politics and culture clashes, while weaving in a murder mystery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An important story l.

This is a great book, well researched, well written and an important story we should all know.

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Captivating story and great narrator.

So glad I read this through audible. The narrators Irish accent really brought the story to life. History seems well researched and balanced.

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  • Celia
  • New Fairfield, CT, United States
  • 03-22-19

Completely compelling

A riveting account of The Troubles. While Jean McConville remains an enigma, the people who filled this period are vividly presented, and the core mystery of her death is exceptionally well handled. At first I thought the narrator - complete with occasionally challenging, even to Irish-American ears, accent - was a bit dramatic for a nonfiction work. But then it became part of the oral historical feel of the book - that is, the relating of a story so alive that the listener feels as if the narrator is telling it almost 1:1. A great experience!

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Excellent!

There is not a human being in the world that cannot find the same roots of conflict in their own hearts, their own tribe, their own place. Read and learn.

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Gripping

I knew very little about Northern Ireland before I encoutered this book. What a tragic history. While the stories of violence and armed struggle are lamentable & dark, most of the people in this book are presented with empathy and discussed as the complex, imperfect humans they were (or still are). Excellent narration.