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December 12, 2020


#Non-fiction: Say Nothing

by NancyElin



  1. The books concerns the Troubles in Northern Ireland
  2. …beginning and ending  with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.


Strong point: 

  1. This is a very good book if you want
  2. …to know what it felt like during The Troubles
  3. fear, omertà, code of silence  title: “Say Nothing”.
  4. Keefe’s writing style is cinematic.
  5. — POV meant to simulate the experience of watching a movie.
  6. setting, characterization, structure
  7. create visually dynamic scenes
  8. London car bombs, ch 11
  9. force feeding Dolours and Marion ch 14
  10. gruesome hunger strikes (Dolours, Brendan and Bobby Sands)


Strong point:

  1. Keefe realizes that this book has its ‘edgy sides’, unpleasant to read...
  2. …but he also knows the only way to keep the reader (in this case…me)
  3. engaged from cover to cover it to use the “glue” of empathy.
  4. Dolours is mentioned 525 x (…thank you Kindle).
  5. I keep reading because I feel connected to Dolours
  6. …interested in her plight.
  7. …wondering what makes a girl become so revolutionary, political?



  1. Hook1972 – chapter one as Jean McConville is dragged
  2. out of her house
  3. ….and thrown in a van by masked thugs.
  4. Her body was finally found 43 years later in 2003.
  5. The crime remains unsolved.
  6. This book was slipping away… from me but
  7. …on page 50 things started to change!
  8. Chapters alternate between the Prices sisters (Dolorus and Marian)
  9. ..and the McConville’s (Arthur and Jean….and their children)
  10. …top-ranked IRA Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes.


  1. This is a lot to take in
  2. ….it is almost numbing to read about  The Troubles.
  3. Many key players are dead,
  4. Brendon ‘the Darkie’ Hughes (1948-2008)
  5. James Martin Pacelli McGuinness (1950-2017)
  6. Dolours Price (1950-2013)
  7. …one is still living Gerry Adams (1948)
  8. Irish republican politician who was the
  9. …President of Sinn Féin until 2018.
  10. He advocated for a political movement to run
  11. parallel with the armed struggle.


Last Thoughts:

  1. I learned more about a period in recent history
  2. I hadn’t known much about.
  3. It was a loose framework for a historical look at
  4. …some of the everyday people who got caught up
  5. in the violence of the IRA.
  6. It’s a sobering book
  7. It is a hard read so…
  8. …prepare yourself to be drained
  9. ….when you close the book.
  10. #HistorySeenInRearViewMirror
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 12 2020

    Wow, your review presents a very different picture of this one than I’ve read previously. It sounds very intense. I’ve always been on the fence about whether I want to read it because I know next to nothing about this era of history and not sure how much background is needed to really appreciate the book. Thanks for these details!

    • Dec 12 2020

      The book was intense…but readable. I researched sections (London Car Bombing) on Wikipedia as I went along. The book tells you more about the planning of the bombing and how the ‘hit team’ attempted to flee UK.
      The Guardian had just reported the death (2013) of Dolours, the person whose revolutionary life is the thread that keeps the book together from cover to cover. An on top of all that….Gerry Adams just stepped down from Sinn Fein in 2018. There were many witness reports on his role in the entire “Troubles”… the alleged kingmaker. So a lot to process. It is a book that is in the genre “page-turner”…so for the seasoned reader a ‘quick read’.

  2. Dec 13 2020

    This is a really powerful book but I thought Keaffe did well to make it so readable and accesible. I lived through these events but still learned quite a lot from this book.

    • Dec 14 2020

      Brutal history…sometimes hard to read but Northern Ireland has prevailed.
      But I still don’t know if ‘conflict’ is still pulsing in the veins of the people there….
      …perhaps you can gauge this better than I can. Thanks for your comment!


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