Say Nothing

Say Nothing

A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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 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 garments--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 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--[this book] conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish"--
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2019]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780385521314
Branch Call Number: HV6574.G7 K44 2019
HV6574.G7 K44 2019
HV6574.G7 K44 2019
364.1523 Keefe
364.1523 Keefe
364.1523 Keefe
Characteristics: xii, 441 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 20, 2020

Ireland is near the top of my travel wishlist but I’m shamed to admit I’m not that familiar with Irish history (I’m 100% not Irish in any way). Say Nothing is part murder mystery, part narrative history of Northern Ireland and part treatise on memory and record keeping. This book is superb and captivating. I read it all in four days and the story told has stayed with me. I would highly recommend it to anyone. I also recommend reading end page about how the notes were complied because it adds so much context to the story.

Jul 19, 2020

Nominally the story of a "disappeared" Belfast woman, this book relates the history of the Troubles. While its focus is on the 1970s, it gives the antecedents and the effects that the '70s had and continue to have on the island’s politics. Because this book relies on research done largely with republicans, it tells their stories, but not without significant background on the loyalists, specifically on key members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British Army. This brief history is an indictment of imperialism and colonialism, and not just of the British variety. It is fascinating to read his descriptions of the evolution of the people in the struggle. In particular, his analysis of Gerry Adams is one of political ambition and incredible hypocrisy. Keefe grew up in Boston’s Irish community but didn’t feel a personal connection to Ireland. He comments that “Some people in Ireland looked askance at the ‘plastic Paddies’ who urged bloody war in Ulster from the safe distance of America.”
The book follows many individuals through their personal tragedies and emphasizes the long-lasting effects on families and on the larger society. Not a book for the faint of heart.

multcolib_susannel Apr 09, 2020

The author weaves personal stories and testimony with the facts of the 'Time of Troubles' in Northern Ireland, 1968-1998.

JCLMeghanF Mar 26, 2020

This is true crime journalism at its best. Not only does Keefe present a nuanced view of the Troubles, he also uncovers a possible killer involved in one of Northern Ireland's most notorious unsolved murders.

Mar 14, 2020

Barack Obama Recommendation

Mar 02, 2020

The best cataloguing of the oral history that weaves narration and lived experiences together to both illustrate the times but also connect individuals stories

Feb 03, 2020

March book

Jan 13, 2020

NYT 2019 Top 10

Nov 24, 2019

New York Times Top 10 Books of 2019.

Masked intruders dragged Jean McConville, a 38-year-old widow and mother of 10, from her Belfast home in 1972. In this meticulously reported book — as finely paced as a novel — Keefe uses McConville’s murder as a prism to tell the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Interviewing people on both sides of the conflict, he transforms the tragic damage and waste of the era into a searing, utterly gripping saga.

Nov 24, 2019

On Best Books of 2019 NYT list

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top