Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike

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In 1981 ten men starved themselves to death inside the walls of Long Kesh prison in Belfast. While a stunned world watched and distraught family members kept bedside vigils, one "soldier" after another slowly went to his death in an attempt to make Margaret Thatcher's government recognize them as political prisoners rather than common criminals.

Drawing extensively on secret IRA documents and letters from the prisoners smuggled out at the time, David Beresford tells the gripping story of these strikers and their devotion to the cause. An intensely human story, Ten Men Dead offers a searing portrait of strife-torn Ireland, of the IRA, and the passions — on both sides — that Republicanism arouses.

A portrait of strife-torn Ireland and the IRA, as well as an intensely human story of the ten ordinary men who were overtaken by extraordinary events.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Taken inside infamous Long Kesh prison in Belfast, the reader of this searing journal experiences the emotional stranglehold that the legacy of troubled Ireland has on 10 men who in 1981 chose to perish in a hunger strike. Written by a reporter who covered the story for The Guardian , the book is shaped around secret communications, scraps of cigarette paper which the prisoners wrote on and concealed in bodily orifices until the messages could be smuggled outside to the IRA leadership. These ``comms'' are intimate, meticulous records of the men who went first ``on the blanket'' in naked protest, then to their self-scheduled deaths. We see and hear the families, alike and yet different in their grief; the churchmen and political leaders in attempts to dissuade and negotiate; and ``Iron Lady'' Margaret Thatcher, resolute in the grim battle of wills. In the final compelling words of Beresford, ``They died for a cause more ancient than the gray walls of Long Kesh prison.'' (Mar.)
Library Journal
The author, a journalist from The Guardian , was given access to the secret IRA communications (``comms'') that flowed in and out of the H Blocks at Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland during the strike. These add an important new dimension to the history of the event. The choice of the hunger strike, the goals, the recruitment of volunteers, the agony of the ten deaths, and the capitulation of the IRA, in the end, to the families who would not allow their sons to die, is recounted with compelling intensity. Beresford writes with empathy for all those involved, but his book is not an IRA tract. His excellent, thorough narrative finds blame enough for everybody, and serves to show how the hunger strike tragedy mirrors the larger tragedy of Ulster. Recommended to those who want to know more about the IRA and the price nationalism extracts from its supporters.-- Richard B. Finnegan, Stonehill Coll., North Easton, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871137029
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Pages: 334
  • Sales rank: 342,928
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.98 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2003


    I read this book in 1996 and have never forgotten it since. It will always remain in my modest library of books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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