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Say Nothing

A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Written by: Patrick Radden Keefe
Narrated by: Matthew Blaney
Length: 14 hrs and 40 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (247 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year - Time Magazine

One of the Best 10 Books of the Year - Washington Post

New York Times best seller

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Winner of the Orwell Prize

Longlisted for the National Book Award

"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." (New York Times Book Review, 10 Best Books of the Year)

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

What the critics say

"If it seems as if I'm reviewing a novel, it is because Say Nothing has lots of the qualities of good fiction, to the extent that I'm worried I'll give too much away, and I'll also forget that Jean McConville was a real person, as were - are - her children. And her abductors and killers. Keefe is a terrific storyteller.... He brings his characters to real life. The book is cleverly structured. We follow people - victim, perpetrator, back to victim - leave them, forget about them, rejoin them decades later. It can be read as a detective story.... What Keefe captures best, though, is the tragedy, the damage and waste, and the idea of moral injury.... Say Nothing is an excellent account of the Troubles." (Roddy Doyle, The New York Times Book Review)

"An exceptional new book...explores this brittle landscape [of Northern Ireland] to devastating effect...fierce reporting.... The story of McConville's disappearance, its crushing effects on her children, the discovery of her remains in 2003, and the efforts of authorities to hold someone accountable for her murder occupy the bulk of Say Nothing. Along the way, Mr. Keefe navigates the flashpoints, figures and iconography of the Troubles: anti-Catholic discrimination, atrocities by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and occupation by the British Army, grisly IRA bombings in Belfast and London, the internment of Irish soldiers and the hunger strikes of Bobby Sands and others, the Falls Road and the Shankill Road, unionist paramilitaries, the 'real' IRA and the 'provisionals,' counter-intelligence, the Armalite rile and the balaclava. It is a dizzying panorama, yet Mr. Keefe presents it with clarity." (Michael O'Donnell, The Wall Street Journal)

"Patrick Radden Keefe’s new book Say Nothing investigates the mystery of a missing mother and reveals a still-raw violent past.... The book often reads like a novel, but as anyone familiar with his work for The New Yorker can attest, Keefe is an obsessive reporter and researcher, a master of narrative nonfiction.... An incredible story." (Rolling Stone)

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Amazing book and fantastic narration

This book is fantastic and the performance of the narrator is amazing. With the perfect accent to enjoy the contents too!

1 person found this helpful

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Great read!

Very interesting. Great story, l learned about Ireland and the IRA. I enjoy books that have a good story but are based on facts.

1 person found this helpful

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Captivated and enthralled the entire time

This book is fascinating throughout. The story is about larger than life people and the author created such atmosphere and such an amazing sense of time and place while telling their story that I couldn’t stop listening. It’s also created a massive thirst for more information about the people in the story that I feel like I’m obsessed with the subject now. The performance is deft and lyrical and adds so much colour and soul to the experience. A remarkable story told in a masterful way. So yeah, I liked it.

1 person found this helpful

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READ: VOICES FROM THE GRAVE"

Despite the glowing reviews from his own newspaper the book has numerous shortcomings. I encourage readers/listeners to continue to the end though as the writer attempts, in a couple paragraphs, to patch over many omissions. He has attempted to set out the investigation of one murder - one of many. Had he stuck to the EVIDENCE in this version it would have been compelling but he goes in several unrelated,editorial directions. At the end of Chapter 18 the narrative becomes "Get Jerry". It is an another example of a journalist's approach vs a Homicide investigator. The Homicide Investigator doesn't care what you "think" - but what do you "know". By assuming he has determined the identity of the shooter of Jean McConville the writer does a disservice to the victim. The tapes should be where the investigation starts , not where it ends. The "Troubles" were a failure in every aspect: Political, Military,Intelligence,Informant Development, the combatants themselves.Telling the story of any murder is of value if the reader knows the writer has stuck to the evidence.

1 person found this helpful

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Best book I’ve read in years

A wonderful book that reads like historical fiction, though clearly it’s not. Found it to be highly informative and entertaining. The narrator was flawless too. There was none of that theatrical imitation of people’s voices that can be so annoying with some narrators. It was just perfect, in my opinion.

1 person found this helpful

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So engrossing! Forgot time! Respect for the Irish.

We are told there are 2 sides to every story. Well this story has so many sides it's hard to fault any of the participants in Northern Ireland's long ugly struggle for their independence! So much suffering but so much strength and perseverance as well. I picked this one because of good reviews and I vacationed there last year and took the tour with a former IRA member and he left such an impression on me. Keefe has wrote a work of non fiction that reads like a fictional mystery. And rather than show biased, his story in the end made me feel for all participants, British, Catholic & Protestant alike. But the real tragedy for Northern Ireland is that there is still deep rooted resentment on both sides even now that the British army is gone. I could feel it as an undercurrent even only a year ago. I think it will take another generation or two of integration to finally heal all the wounds but praying it will. Don't even hesitate, click buy now. I promise you won't regret it.

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Gives a comprehensive understanding of the troubles

I was not sure about this book when I ordered it. But I a so glad I did. I did not live in Ireland but grew up hearing about the items like the hunger strike and bombings. This gives such a clear understanding of it, I truly enjoyed it and will listen again. I am also going to read voices from the grave.

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Captured the darkness of the period

I got this book because I had little knowledge of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. This book reads like a history of the IRA and many of its soldiers from the late sixties on. It is not a well rounded give all the sides history. That being said, it does a tremendous job of revealing the motivations, tactics, internal difference, etc within the IRA. It also reveals the toughness of every day life for the Catholic citizens under these warlike circumstances. It does not pull punches about the internal conflicts of the IRA. To top it off, it is very well written and exceptionally well read, keeping the listener engaged throughout.

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Phenomenal

Incredible reporting and expert storytelling. Performance was excellent as well. Highly recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in the subject.

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Loved it.

Couldn't stop listening. Fascinating story of how people of good intentions could be persuaded to do anything for a cause. The story of the Irish struggles and the innocent people that lost their lives because they were in the wrong place in a time of war.

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  • Josh
  • 2019-04-08

Spectacular

I have been an audible member for over twelve years. This is the first time I have felt compelled to offer a review. This book is a masterpiece. As the author notes, this is not a comprehensive history. What it is is an incredible character study into several individuals connected to the IRA. This book will stick with me for a long time.

50 people found this helpful

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  • BallaghMan
  • 2019-04-15

Gritty but essential

If you are interested at all in the N Ireland troubles then this is the book for you. Using some specific cases and IRA protagonists it travels much of the history of the North since the late 60s in a gritty non sparing way. The reading is excellent, and in the real deal NI vernacular.

17 people found this helpful

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  • oc_artist
  • 2019-03-01

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.

66 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-12-10

Not Unabridged!

The end of the book is missing. The last part is called ‘Notes’ and is where the citations are. This is also where the author tells you want part he ‘gave nonfiction narrative’ and that parts are known to be true.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Miona
  • 2019-02-27

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.

45 people found this helpful

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  • 6catz
  • 2019-03-04

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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Jordan Shea
  • 2019-04-23

phenomenal

the research and explanation is so thorough; it's astounding. beautiful reading, as well. I'm amazed that this feels so distant yet so close in history.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 2019-05-11

The way all History books should be!

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I have read many nonfiction books that claimed to read like a novel but few have. This book brought the subject matter to life like few books ever have. Regardless of your knowledge or interest in NI history and The Troubles, you will be fascinated by this story. Need more stars to rank this fairly.

10 people found this helpful

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  • K R D
  • 2019-03-04

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

10 people found this helpful

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  • Kari
  • 2019-03-11

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.

15 people found this helpful