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Say Nothing

A True Story of Murder and Memory In Northern Ireland
Narrated by: Matthew Blaney
Length: 14 hrs and 43 mins
Categories: History, European
4.5 out of 5 stars (302 ratings)

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Summary

A shocking true story of murder, extreme politics and the deep scars left by the Troubles in Ireland of the 1970s and the human consequences. A taut tale of murder, extreme politics, institutionalised violence and the deep scars left by such turmoil. 

In this powerful, scrupulously reported audiobook, Patrick Radden Keefe offers not just a forensic account of a brutal crime but a vivid portrait of the world in which it happened. The tragedy of an entire country is captured in the spellbinding narrative of a handful of characters, presented in lyrical and unforgettable detail.

A poem by Seamus Heaney inspires the title: 'Whatever You Say, Say Nothing'. By defying the culture of silence, Keefe illuminates how a close-knit Irish society fractured; how people chose sides in a conflict and turned to violence; and how, when the shooting stopped, some ex-combatants came to look back in horror at the atrocities they had committed, while others continue to advocate violence even today. 

Say Nothing deftly weaves the stories of Jean McConville and her family with those of Dolours Price, the first woman to join the IRA as a front line soldier, who bombed the Old Bailey when she was barely out of her teens; Gerry Adams, who helped bring an end to the fighting but denied his own IRA past; Brendan Hughes, a fearsome IRA commander who turned on Adams after the peace process and broke the IRA's code of silence; and other indelible figures. By capturing the intrigue, the drama, and the profound human cost of the Troubles, the book presents a searing chronicle of the lengths that people are willing to go to in pursuit of a political ideal and the ways in which societies mend - or don't - in the aftermath of a long and bloody conflict.

©2018 Patrick Radden Keefe (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Smart, searching, and utterly absorbing, Say Nothing sweeps us into the heart of one of the modern world's bitterest conflicts and, with unusual compassion, walks us back out again along the road to reconciliation. This is more than a powerful, superbly reported work of journalism. It is contemporary history at its finest." (Maya Jasanoff)

"Keefe uses the old Irish phrase, 'Whatever you say, say nothing,' to suggest and to say just about everything. His 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. A bracing, empathetic, heartrending work of storytelling." (Colum McCann)

"A shattering, intimate study of how young men and women consumed by radical political violence are transformed by the history they make, and struggle to come to terms with the blood they have shed, Say Nothing is a powerful reckoning. Keefe has written an essential book." (Philip Gourevitch)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Immense, powerful, exquisite and raw.

I haven't 'connected' to a book in a long time as I have this one. It's beautifully crafted, it pulls no punches, but doesn't glorify, justify or condemn the history. I remember the horrors of the Troubles as a child, hearing it on the news, and this is a perfectly pitched perspective on a few characters involved.
If you read or listen to one non-fiction book this year, make it this.

8 people found this helpful

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A very good read

This book was not what I expected. I had read a review and thought I would give it a try. It’s not usually what I would choose, not to mention I didn’t really have any interest in learning about ‘the troubles’ but this book totally captivated me. I cannot recommend enough . It is a true story which enables the listener to gain an insight into real events.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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touts know the rules!

enjoyed this story. have to agree with an earlier reviewer that the narrator annoyed me with some of the basic words that he mispronounced like the river foggon (faughan), drinking in a shebben (shebeen), solicitor pat finnegan (finucane) and others, although it was mostly ok
although he only gets a fleeting mention, the worst of the old ruc in the form of drew harris has yet to materialise

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating history

Superb book. The first one of its kind I've read or listened to and I couldn't stop listening. This is how non-fiction should be written.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book but terrible narration

Quite an in-depth work focussing on the Boston College tapes and interviews with Brendan “ Darkie” Hughes & Dolores Price, both former IRA Volunteers & neither will need any introduction to a student of Irish history.

Very interesting insights to the people now known as “ The Disappeared “ and also the infamous “ Stakeknife” aka Freddie Scapatticci.

An extremely worthwhile book that was only let down by some extremely poor narration on the audio book. The narrator quite often mispronounced even the simplest of words. This did not detract greatly from the book, more of a continual annoyance!

Big thank you to Mackers for his part in it all.

5 people found this helpful

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A great narrative, some iffy production

A comprehensive narrative of key events and people in the troubles. Let down with several mispronunciations (surely there are editors listening during recording?) and pauses mid sentence as if the reader was turning a page.

The power of the stories makes this a great listen if the recent history of Northern Ireland is of interest to you.

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Totally Biased

Couldn’t finish this book. Imagine the Manchester Arena bomber being portrayed as a romantic hero then you’ll catch my drift. Anti- British pro IRA propaganda which even asserted blame for Jean McConvillles murder away from the provos
Shocking

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Great book. Don’t let the poor narration put you off

The narration seems to be badly edited and re-edited with words and sentences slotted in on re-edit causing lengthy pauses. Despite this, the book is informative and well written and leaves you sympathising and then being horrified of the same people at different parts of the book.

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Strange narration!

Great book, well researched and gripping .
However the narrator almost seems to struggle with some pronunciation.

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Shocking truths revealed. Shocking performance by the narrator.

I feel bad leaving such a negative review, but it has to be said that whoever made the decision to cast this narrator did the writer (and his words) a shocking disservice.
I’m less bothered by the weird gaps as he attempts ‘tricky’ words (too many to recount here); even the mispronunciations, although irritating, are tolerable (and occasionally amusing). No, it’s the overall tone of the performance that is so disastrous - he gets excited and emphatic about the most mundane details, and throws away the most dramatic and significant.
In truth, it’s not really his fault. He sounds too young and too unsure of the world he’s describing to do it justice. The casting choice is such a shame, and seems unfathomable at a time when the worlds of TV, theatre and film are jam packed with Northern Irish talent.
In the end I simply gave up and read this truly gripping book in the old school way.