Get a free audiobook

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
5 out of 5 stars (156 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

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

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)

More from the same

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    134
  • 4 Stars
    18
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    122
  • 4 Stars
    17
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    122
  • 4 Stars
    19
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Phenomenal

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

There are no winners in this conflict.

I have been to Belfast, and have listened to the stories of the "troubles". This fills in some of the blanks I always had.
Even today, Belfast I'd s city devided.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Truly excellent book

This meticulously researched book is narrated masterfully by Matthew Blaney, who enriches the story with his lilting Irish accent, making it come alive. Years of detailed historical research by Radden Keefe have resulted in an engrossing and fascinating non-fiction read that brings these characters to life. I had a difficult time ever pressing pause! Highly recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

it said alot - very informative

well done insight into the complexity of the troubles in Ireland . it helped understand why it was not just a war with clear divisions and lines as many think it was.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

riveting!

I think this book may have just sparked an obsession with learning more about the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

great read. authentic and detailed lots of history

narrator great. great historical detail and seemingly fair perspective. lots about Dlours and Price sisters. good read for Irish history.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome/Malade

If you like Irish history, especially the Troubles, this is super good without being too dry and historical. I finished it in like two days.

Si vous aimez l’histoire irlandaise, en particulier « les troubles » c’est super bon sans être trop sec pis historique. Je l’ai fini dans genre deux jours.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

54 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

7 people found this helpful