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Blood-Dark Track: a Family History by Joseph O'Neill
Published by
Granta Books, 2001

Joseph O'Neill's grandfathers - one Irish, one Turkish - were both imprisoned during the Second World War. The Irish grandfather, a handsome rogue from a family of small farmers, was an active member of the IRA, and was interned with hundreds of his comrades by de Valera's government. O'Neill's other grandfather, a debonair hotelier from the tiny and threatened Turkish Christian minority, was imprisoned by the British in Palestine, where he was traveling to buy lemons, on suspicion of being an Axis spy.

When O'Neill set out to investigate the imprisonment of his grandfathers, which were veiled by family silences, he found himself assessing his grandfathers in new ways, learning about their characters from their diaries and letters of the time, and from friends and colleagues who had known them in their youth. He also found himself having to come to terms with memories of violence; with a legacy of fierce commitment and political blindness; with the enchanting power of nationalism and the fear and complicity of the bystander. He was changed by what he found, and he has written a remarkable book about the ties and limits of kinship. With great tact, he sets stories of individuals against the reality of the last century's most inhuman events; Blood-Dark Track brings the darker moments of history to vivid life. O'Neill has written a compelling family history interwoven with the politics of World War 2.

'As thrilling as a murder trial ... the progress of his investigations is imbued with all the darkening excitement of a novel by le Carré or Greene'
Times Literary Supplement

'O'Neill's voice in this book is often intimate and engaging, like someone whispering fascinating secrets, but it is also at times a public voice, deeply involved with the silences and lies which have surrounded the past and distorted the present in both Turkey and Ireland. O'Neill is a born story-teller with a sharp eye, a great style and a good wit. His sense of modern Ireland, with all its ghosts and contradictions, is superb.'
Colm Tóibin

Joseph O'Neill was born in Cork in 1964.

By the same author:
The Breezes / Breezes
This is the Life

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