We Don’t Know How It Ends

Image by Khara Woods.

Fintan O’Toole’s latest book, We Don’t Know Ourselves, starts in 1958 when Ireland “was just about beginning to change,” and moves, one year at a time, into the transformation of Ireland from a developing country to a Celtic Tiger that wowed the European Union with its dramatic growth in GDP.

The one-year-per-chapter pace thankfully breaks down. Chapter 7 covers 1962-1999. Then back to one-year-per-chapter until 1975-1983, then 1971-1983, then two-years-per-chapter. The trouble with this form of organisation is it doesn’t hold up. The Troubles never end. The conflict between Protestant Northern Ireland and Catholic Ireland just keeps surfacing, a story that gets told over and over again, bodies of innocents blown to bits and men starving themselves to gain symbolic concessions.

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Steve O’Keefe is the author of several books, most recently Set the Page on Fire: Secrets of Successful Writers, from New World Library, based on over 250 interviews. He is the former editorial director for Loompanics Unlimited.

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