Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life

Belfast Diary coverIn 1980, John Conroy moved into a small boardinghouse in a working class neighborhood of west Belfast, an area where the war in Northern Ireland, then more than a decade old, played out in the streets every day. He set out to write a street-level view of the war, an attempt to provide a context lacking in press coverage, particularly in the United States. As a journalist he thought he would be somewhat immune from the daily pressures faced by his neighbors, whose lives he depicts in this book. But as 1980 and 1981 wore on, he realized that he had no immunity whatsoever.

“Suffused with an ominous tension.” – The New Yorker

 “A brave and true portrait….a well-written, sympathetic, and clear-eyed view.” — The New York Times

 “Sensitive and perceptive…Remarkably even-handed…Anyone who is interested in understanding the problems in Northern Ireland should read John Conroy’s account.” –-The Times (London)

“Perhaps more than any book in the recent spate of writing about the conflict in Northern Ireland, Conroy’s account conveys a street-level atmosphere and provides a context in which ordinary people are seen and heard. A Chicago journalist, the author lived in West Belfast in 1980 and returned in later years to gather material. He lived in the small, working-class Catholic district of Clonard where he found his neighbors haunted by myths, legends and history, their lives defined by civil war and the lot of being Irish. In Conroy’s view there is “encroaching similarity” between Protestant and Catholic communities in the North. Unemployment, once largely a Catholic experience, is today an issue for others as well. Conroy’s experience, as well as the North’s history, give credence to the popular notion that violence has been effective in achieving progress in Ireland. This is an informative, powerful, sensitive evocation of people who “don’t need any practice” in suffering.” – Publishers Weekly

“A narrative of personal engagement, what James Agee might describe as an act of literature that seems a piece of life torn out by the roots…A dramatic personal encounter…An essential guide for Americans.” – The Boston Globe

“An exceptionally well-written book…Should be required reading for those reporting the news…A publishing breakthrough.” – The Irish People

 “The best book to date on Northern Ireland — The New Statesman

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Professors seeking review copies, contact Beacon Press.