Narrated By: Matt Blaney
Duration: 14 hours and 43 minutes
What to expect
One night in December 1972, Jean McConville, a mother of ten, was abducted from her home in Belfast and never seen alive again. Her disappearance would haunt her orphaned children, the perpetrators of this terrible crime and a whole society in Northern Ireland for decades.
In this powerful, scrupulously reported book, 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 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 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.
True war & combat stories, European history
Listen to a sample
TIME’s #1 Best Nonfiction Book of 2019
‘Say Nothing rightly won this year’s Orwell prize for political writing. It is a superb piece of reportage and writing … It is a book that could become worryingly relevant again.’ Times, the best current affairs and politics books of 2019
‘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 … A searing, utterly gripping saga.’ New York Times, best books of 2019
‘Breathtaking in its scope and ambition… Keefe has produced a searing examination of the nature of truth in war and the toll taken by violence and deceit… Will take its place alongside the best of the books about the Troubles’ Sunday Times
‘A horrible, chilling tale and I’m glad someone has at last had the guts to tell it. There have been, thus far, only two good books to emerge from the Troubles. This is the third.’ Jeremy Paxman
‘A gripping and profoundly human explanation for a past that still denies and defines the future… Only an outsider could have written a book this good … If conclusions are possible, Radden Keefe’s is that everyone became complicit in the terror… I can’t praise this book enough: it’s erudite, accessible, compelling, enlightening. I thought I was bored by Northern Ireland’s past until I read it.’ Melanie Reid, The Times
‘An exceptional new book, Say Nothing explores this brittle landscape to devastating effect.’ Wall Street Journal
‘Keefe’s narrative is an architectural feat, expertly constructed out of complex and contentious material, arranged and balanced just so… This sensitive and judicious book raises some troubling, and perhaps unanswerable, questions.’ New York Times
‘Vivid and rightly shocking… Say Nothing is an excellent account of the Troubles; it might also be a warning.’ Roddy Doyle