Say Nothing Book Summary - Say Nothing Book explained in key points
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Say Nothing summary

Patrick Keefe

A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

4.2 (46 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Say Nothing by Patrick Keefe is a non-fiction book that delves into the Troubles in Northern Ireland - a 30-year conflict in which thousands died. The book recounts the stories of those intimately involved and offers insights into the political complexities of that era.

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    Say Nothing
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    In the midst of the Northern Ireland Conflict, Jean McConville disappeared without a trace.

    At 38 years old, Jean McConville had already given birth to 14 children, four of whom had since died. Her husband, Arthur, had died of lung cancer the year before, and now she was raising her ten children alone and with little money. The family lived in an ugly housing estate, in a damp flat where black mold crawled up the walls. Needless to say, life wasn’t easy for Jean.

    But on that cold December night, things were about to get much worse.

    When Jean heard the doorbell ring she was in the bath after a long day. Assuming it was her daughter Helen returning from the local fish and chip shop with supper, her other children opened the door.

    But it wasn’t Helen.

    Instead, a group of men and women entered the McConville home. Some wore balaclavas, but others didn’t, and the children recognized them as their neighbors. The group told Jean that she needed to get dressed and accompany them downstairs, to a van waiting outside.

    As she left her children behind, Jean told them not to worry – she would be back soon.

    She was never seen again, and her children would spend the next three decades wondering what had happened to their mother.

    But how could a seemingly ordinary Northern Irish woman disappear without a trace?

    The answer, it turned out, lay in the dreadful conflict that had engulfed Belfast and the whole of Northern Ireland three years earlier. Jean McConville was a victim of the Troubles.

    This is what people often call the Northern Ireland Conflict, which began in the late 1960s. At that time, the region’s Catholic inhabitants had long been the victims of discrimination and institutional racism at the hands of their Protestant neighbors. Even though Catholics made up around 50 percent of the region’s population, they were routinely excluded from good jobs, decent housing, the police force and political power.

    Indeed, the situation was so dire for Northern Ireland’s Catholics, that thousands had already chosen to emigrate in search of a better life, leaving for places such as America, Australia and the Republic of Ireland itself.

    But not everyone was ready to give up and get out. In the late 1960s, many young Catholics in Northern Ireland were looking to improve their situation, and violence seemed like the only answer.

    It was this violence that would eventually take Jean McConville’s life.

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    What is Say Nothing about?

    Say Nothing (2018) explores a shocking true story of murder during the Northern Ireland Conflict. These blinks are a compelling meditation on one of the darkest chapters of Irish history, and shine a light on some of the key figures in the conflict as well as the period’s most notorious atrocities.

    Say Nothing Review

    Say Nothing (2019) explores the complex and haunting history of the Northern Ireland conflict through the lens of a disappeared mother and a radicalized daughter. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through meticulous research and interviews with key figures, the book uncovers the unsettling truth behind a decades-long conflict.
    • It delves into the struggle for justice and the moral complexities of violence, providing a profound understanding of the human experience in times of war.
    • The book is anything but boring, thanks to its captivating narrative style and the author's ability to bring history to life, keeping readers engaged from start to finish.

    Who should read Say Nothing?

    • History buffs looking for fresh insights
    • True crime enthusiasts
    • Avid news readers interested in international relations

    About the Author

    Patrick Radden Keefe is an award-winning author and journalist. His other books include The Snakehead and Chatter. Keefe is also a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and received the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing in 2014.

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    Say Nothing FAQs 

    What is the main message of Say Nothing?

    Say Nothing uncovers the hidden truths behind the violent conflict in Northern Ireland, exploring the impact of silence and the search for justice.

    How long does it take to read Say Nothing?

    Reading Say Nothing takes several hours. In contrast, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Say Nothing a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Say Nothing is a compelling read, offering gripping storytelling and insight into a complex historical event. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Say Nothing?

    Say Nothing was written by Patrick Radden Keefe.

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