There Will Be Fire
Margaret Thatcher, the IRA, and Two Minutes That Changed History
by Rory Carroll
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Pub Date 04 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 04 Apr 2023
PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, G.P. Putnam's Sons
A bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army exploded at 2:54 a.m. on October 12, 1984. It was the last day of the Conservative Party Conference at the Grand Hotel in the coastal town of Brighton, England. Rooms were obliterated, dozens of people wounded, five killed. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in her suite when the explosion occurred; had she been just a few feet in another direction, flying tiles and masonry would have sliced her to ribbons. As it was, she survived—and history changed.
There Will Be Fire is the gripping story of how the IRA came astonishingly close to killing Thatcher, in the most spectacular attack ever linked to the Northern Ireland Troubles. Journalist Rory Carroll reveals the long road to Brighton, the hide-and-seek between the IRA and British security services, the planting of the bomb itself, and the painstaking search for clues and suspects afterward.
In There Will Be Fire, Carroll draws on his own interviews and original reporting, reveals new information, and weaves together previously unconnected threads. There Will Be Fire is journalistic nonfiction that reads like a thriller, propelled by a countdown to detonation.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 7 members
If you want to truly test yourself as an author, an excellent prompt is, "Try to write a book about the Troubles without taking a side." Rory Carroll's There Will Be Fire is proof that it can be done and done very well at that.
The book follows the story of the Brighton bombing in England in 1984. The bombing was executed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in their campaign to unite all of Ireland and very nearly killed Margaret Thatcher. Most of the book follows the bomber and then the police attempts to identify and arrest him. This is the very short version of an extremely long story.
The Troubles of Northern Ireland are a quagmire of politics, grudges, and justice (or lack thereof). Carroll makes it clear his book will not tackle everything about the IRA and the Troubles. He also states he is not biased. While I think I can decipher precisely what he thinks if we were sharing a few drinks, it does not in any way hinder the narrative of the book. Carroll explains the finer points someone needs to know but sticks to the story of the bomber and the subsequent pursuit. It is one of the few times where saying a piece of history, "reads like a novel," is 100% earned.
(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Penguin Group Putnam. The full review will be posted to HistoryNerdsUnited.com on 4/4/2023.)
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