Picking up right where 1972 left off, Bloody Sunday, 1999 is the final novel in the Irish Century series. This book is filled to the brim with the tension, mayhem and horror that marked the last quarter of the 20th century in Ireland. Events from Bloody Sunday, the random murders of the Irish people for nothing more than their religion, the bombing of Dublin, the explosion that killed Lord Mountbatten and his grandchildren while boating, the interment of suspected Volunteers in inhumane conditions that flouted guidelines set out by the Geneva Convention while paramilitaries on the loyalist side were given free reign, the hunger strike that resulted in the deaths of ten men - including Bobby Sands who was a member of the British Paliment though still imprisoned, and other events that defy explination. With this for a backdrop, the Halloran family saga continues with Barry's marriage and the birth of his children.
This is a hard book for me to review. I learned more from this book than I did from any of the others. The information in the first four books is knowledge that has become well known to anyone who has studied Irish history. It is easy to access and educate yourself on the time period preceeding Bloody Sunday. The events following Bloody Sunday are a different story. The British government clamped down on all news getting in and out of Northern Ireland, telling the world only what it wanted to know. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher become one of the single greatest enemies of the Irish people since the Easter uprising and Rebellion. I was shocked by the revelation that the British not only approved of loyalist paramilitaries while calling IRA members terrorists, but they assisted them by providing both guns and information. I was also shocked by the abject poverty in which the Irish continued to live. Some regions, even in the early 1990s, were without indoor plumbing.
On the other hand, the storyline was completely out of sync. The timeline of events was hopelessly tangled and annoyed this reader to no end. In addition, Barry's wife was utterly unlikeable. It really detracted from the book as a whole. If I were to rate the story separate from the facts it would only get 2 stars while the factual events would get a solid five stars.