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Dolours Price, convicted IRA bomber.

I’m happy to say that I’ve read 19 books so far this year — one ahead of schedule. Dare I think I could maybe, just maybe, hit 40 by December 31???

One of the top books I’ve read in the last six months is Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe.

I bought it for a few reasons:

1) I’m a fan of true crime.

2) I’m a fan of history.

3) I knew relatively little about the conflict in Northern Ireland.

4) I’m trying to read more books about terrorism, especially terrorism committed by females, especially terrorism committed by females in the 1970s, as I work on the Camilla Hall/SLA book.

I reluctantly put the book down each night, and a few nights I stayed up past my bedtime to read more. Just when you think the situation was bizarre, it became more bizarre. It was a gripping narrative full of twists and turns.

But as I was reading, I felt guilty for not paying attention to Northern Ireland all these years. As someone growing up in the 1980s, I remember Northern Ireland in the news. But it didn’t really register — I knew it was a troubled place, Catholics vs. Protestants, England vs. Ireland, people dying — but I never took time to further investigate. And I had bought into the media image of Gerry Adams as “peacemaker.”

Since finishing the book, I’ve gone down a rabbit hole. I found “Rebellion” on Netflix, a 10-part dramatization of the Easter uprising of 1916 in Dublin. Again, that was an event I had heard of, but never took time to learn more about it.

Rebellions and renegades fascinate me, especially when the line from nonviolence to violence is crossed. The SLA decided to cross that line. Camilla Hall decided to cross that line. Why? How does one justify violence?

I’m also reading The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo in an attempt to understand the psychological underpinnings of such actions. I’m only about one-quarter of the way through the book but it’s providing some great insights into the concept of “groupthink.” As I work on the last section of the Camilla book, this psychological understanding will be useful.

If you have any recommendations for excellent narratives about Ireland/Northern Ireland, or books that provide psychological insight into violence, I’d appreciate it!

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