Books: The Telling Year – Belfast 1972

What I remember of 1972 is searching through front page headlines to see who’d been killed the night before, and all but on one occasion being thankful it wasn’t anyone I knew. Even traumatic events like Bloody Sunday quickly faded as Republican and Loyalists took it upon themselves to conduct a particularly nasty game of tit for tat, snuffing out the lives of many ordinary people in the wider population as a kind of macabre tally of success. One Protestant assassinated one night, possibly meant two Catholics the next: a bloody arithmetic, that seemed to have no end. In the middle of it were journalists, the local variety used to writing up stories about lost budgies, new roads, and lovely girls who, in three years of sustained civil disorder barely knew what had hit them. It was Malachi O’Doherty’s first year as a journalist. A year he recounts with unremitting honesty in his book, A The Telling Year: Belfast 1972. You can read my review from this month’s Fortnight magazine here.

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