Tom Doherty Associates, 2005
1972 was a heavily discounted book that I picked up more casually than usual for me, even from the bargain bin – a quick glance at a couple of paragraphs and I decided it was worth picking up. Like with many books bought in such an off-the-cuff fashion I probably wouldn’t have bought it on a closer inspection, but overall it was still worth reading.
It’s a work of historical fiction set in Ireland during the 50’s and 60’s, up to the culmination of the title, 1972. From the cover it is described as part of a series essentially following the fortunes of a family through the “interesting” times of Ireland’s history. In this case, the grandson of a “hero” of 1916 is trained up as an Irish Republican and, having been given his grandfather’s rifle, slips away to join the IRA. He enjoys the camraderie and the sense of adventure, but one night in the 50’s he is part of an attack and shoots a constable while his best friend dies in his arms. He becomes a top explosives expert and is constantly on-call to various units while at the same time he goes to college and eventually discovers an interest in photography, gives up “active” service to essentially become a propaganda photographer, earns a degree in journalism, and begins to see his cause in light of other international civil rights causes. He alternates between regular free-lance photojournalism and that helpful to his cause, skirting a line between being a typical free-lancer and a politically focused one. Things quite down, he buys a house, gets married, and settles down, but keeps his interest. Sensing there will be trouble at a march in Derry, he takes his cameras and is present at “Bloody Sunday” – and on his way home stops by the family farmhouse to reclaim the guns he had hidden there when he laid them down years ago.
That’s about it. The style took some getting used to, and I never quite did.