Cover Image: On Bloody Sunday

On Bloody Sunday

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Member Reviews

This isn't the first book I've read about Bloody Sunday, and I doubt it will be the last— but it was certainly one of the best. Campbell brings into the open the real voices of that awful day, from politicians to family members, long term campaigners and eyewitnesses. What really struck me about it was the labour undertaken by the victims of Bloody Sunday to exonerate themselves. This was such momentously powerful read.
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As a History teacher who specialises in Irish History, I found this book to be a clear authority and resource on the events of Bloody Sunday. The variety of interpretations, accounts and sources from pre and post the event highlights the understanding of the author and ensures that this version of events is a reliable one.

It was easy to read due to its formatting, making it accessible to all.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn more about Bloody Sunday.
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Synopsis/blurb....

In January 1972, a peaceful civil rights march in Northern Ireland ended in bloodshed. Troops from Britain's 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment opened fire on marchers, leaving 13 dead and 15 wounded. Seven of those killed were teenage boys. The day became known as 'Bloody Sunday'.

The events occurred in broad daylight and in the full glare of the press. Within hours, the British military informed the world that they had won an 'IRA gun battle'. This became the official narrative for decades until a family-led campaign instigated one of the most complex inquiries in history. 

In 2010, the victims of Bloody Sunday were fully exonerated when Lord Saville found that the majority of the victims were either shot in the back as they ran away or were helping someone in need. The report made headlines all over the world. 

While many buried the trauma of that day, historian and campaigner Juliann Campbell - whose teenage uncle was the first to be killed that day - felt the need to keep recording these interviews and collecting rare and unpublished accounts, aware of just how precious they were. Fifty years on, in this book, survivors, relatives, eyewitnesses and politicians shine a light on the events of Bloody Sunday, together, for the first time.

As they tell their stories, the tension, confusion and anger build with an awful power. On Bloody Sunday unfolds before us an extraordinary human drama, as we experience one of the darkest moments in modern history - and witness the true human cost of conflict.
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My take....

Hard to imagine that it's 50 years since the tragedy of Bloody Sunday. I can't actually say that I vividly recall the day, because I'd be attributing false memories to something, but I'm sure as an Irish Catholic family it resonated in our household. Prior to this event we had family that fled Belfast and relocated to the calmer city of Galway because of the violence and political situation.
 
Campbell's book provides eye-witness account after account of the build-up to the fateful Civil Rights March, the day itself and the prolonged aftermath.

It's quite a tough read. Regret, lament and anger won't bring back the victims - nor those of other violent acts in the North of Ireland. 

I suppose what angers me the most is the aftermath. I can imagine young, scared squaddies acting impulsively and reacting rashly in fear, though Campbell makes a case that the actions of the Paras were pre-meditated, but the immediate lies and subsequent whitewash of the military and political establishment is what sticks in the craw. They knew what had happened and they denied it and continued to deny it for nearly 40 years.

Hindsight is an exact science but one of the consequences of Bloody Sunday and the controversial policy of internment was that they both served as a powerful recruitment tool for the paramilitaries. It would have been far better to have listened and reacted to legitimate concerns of a deprived and downtrodden community for some social justice regarding housing, employment, equal voting rights, and wider discrimination against Catholics. 

Regarding abuse of power, miscarriage of justices and the establishment running roughshod over the people, alongside Bloody Sunday, you can add Orgreave, Hillsborough, the Birmingham 6, the Guildford 4, Windrush, and more recently the Horizon Post Office scandal. Probably others as well.

Overall - an instructive read.

4.5 stars from 5 
  
Read - March, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 373
Source Net Galley
Format - ePUB read on laptop

https://col2910.blogspot.com/2022/07/julieann-campbell-on-bloody-sunday-2022.html
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I was only 4 in 1972 so I don’t recall the actual events of the day that became widely known as Bloody Sunday. But I do remember seeing the news on tv being filled with images from the conflict in Northern Ireland as I got a bit older.
This book was a real eye opener, and at times, a really uncomfortable, sad and heartbreaking read.  But it is week written and well researched and I think each generation should know fully about the conflict and the atrocities that happened due to both sides. This book left me heart sore for a good while after I finished it.
My thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this book in return for an honest review.
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This is a fantastic and well-researched read. It is a one stop authority and resource on Bloody Sunday and has a variety of accounts and sources detailing the events and days leading up, during and afterwards. The format was easily digestible and perfect. It is made up of small paragraphs of narrative, interview excerpts from those involved and other sources such as documents and army communications. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about Bloody Sunday and can definitely see myself coming back to this again in the future.
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‘In January 1972, a peaceful civil rights march in Northern Ireland ended in bloodshed. Troops from Britain's 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment opened fire on marchers, leaving 13 dead and 15 wounded. Seven of those killed were teenage boys. The day became known as 'Bloody Sunday'.

Anger

 The main feeling I got from reading  ‘On Bloody Sunday: A New History Of The Day And Its Aftermath – By The People Who Were There’ was anger. So much so that I could only read short passages at a time before I had to leave the book down. Go for walk, make a cup of tea, anything until I calmed down and was able to start again. It’s only natural that this was my reaction, as what is recounted in these pages couldn’t help but generate any other emotion. Of course sadness is in there too – sadness for the families, for those who didn’t live to hear the Saville report. But so much anger.

 Julieann Campbell, the author of ‘On bloody Sunday’’ is well placed to tell this story as her Uncle, Jackie Duddy, just 17 years old, was the first to be killed that day. She has been a  leading campaigner for truth and justice for the Bloody Sunday families. 

Oral Testimonies 

 A large part of this book consists of oral testimonies, that move between survivors, relatives of those who died and witnesses. It also includes interviews with people who have since died and even uses transcripts of radio messages from the British Army on the day. Summarys of some documents, such as the Widgery report and the second Bloody Sunday tribunal in 2010 as well as headlines and editorials from Newspapers of the time, are also included.

 The author does such a good job of setting the context of the marches, the discrimination and the gerrymandering, the unionist dominated council and government. People were peacefully marching for their basic human rights, repeatedly denied to them.

 The strength of the book is in the way the first-hand accounts of the day are portrayed. To begin with, you realise with horror that ‘The Paras’ were intent on murder before the march had started.

You get a sense of being in the crowd, with the marchers. It’s the innocence of it, the craic people were having, the joking, the sheer innocence of it. Teenagers thinking about teenage things.

When the shootings begin and the panic spreads, it’s truly terrifying. Some things stuck in my head. The man who wonders why there are wasps buzzing over his head when it’s January, highlighting the incredulity that these could be live bullets. People running and falling as they get shot. Others crawling to bodies to help, putting their own lives in danger and getting shot as well. The young woman screaming as a man is shot in the head beside her. It’s horrific.

Aftermath

 The aftermath is devastating, the grief of the familiies compounded by the blackening of their names by the British. As an Irishman, the weasel words of successive British government come as  no surprise to me. I know the history of their actions in Ireland, especially in the north. The families show such resilience and bravery, especially after the lies and insults contained in the Widgery report.  The author really gets across the sense of injustice and the shared trauma felt by the families and the people of Derry. The dignity that these  people showed is incredible.

 Iin 2010, some thirty years after the massacre, the Saville enquiry finally exonerates the dead.  When the British govt finally admits the truth, something the people of Derry always knew, that the victims were innocent. Incredibly, they actually apologise, which must be a first for them.

The accounts here really give you a sense of the elation as well as the sadness of relatives whose parents and family members were longer around to see the names of their loved ones cleared.

But yet, not one of those who fired at the innocents that day has ever seen the inside of a cell.

 I had of course heard of Bloody Sunday before this book, and my father and uncle had told me about Civil Rights marches they attended during the sixties. This book, with it’s details and personal accounts of the day, some previously unpublished, put me right in the middle of the events. This is a powerful book.
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In January 1972, a peaceful civil rights march in Northern Ireland ended in bloodshed. Troops from Britain's 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment opened fire on marchers, leaving 13 dead and 15 wounded. Seven of those killed were teenage boys. The day became known as 'Bloody Sunday'.

The events occurred in broad daylight and in the full glare of the press. Within hours, the British military informed the world that they had won an 'IRA gun battle'. This became the official narrative for decades until a family-led campaign instigated one of the most complex inquiries in history. 

In 2010, the victims of Bloody Sunday were fully exonerated when Lord Saville found that the majority of the victims were either shot in the back as they ran away or were helping someone in need. The report made headlines all over the world. 

While many buried the trauma of that day, historian and campaigner Juliann Campbell - whose teenage uncle was the first to be killed that day - felt the need to keep recording these interviews, and collecting rare and unpublished accounts, aware of just how precious they were. Fifty years on, in this book, survivors, relatives, eyewitnesses and politicians, shine a light on the events of Bloody Sunday, together, for the first time.

As they tell their stories, the tension, confusion and anger build with an awful power. ON BLOODY SUNDAY unfolds before us an extraordinary human drama, as we experience one of the darkest moments in modern history - and witness the true human cost of conflict. An extraordinary book, I recommend it!
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Really enjoyed reading On Bloody Sunday. It was an eye-opener. I had obviously hear about what had happened in Derry, but I must admit had no idea of the conditions catholic people lived in Northern Ireland, and therefore couldn't grasp the full reasons for the marches. I learned a lot with this book.
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A difficult read for me, I served for 2 years in the army in Derry and saw the legacy of Bloody Sunday and the effects it had on both local residents and also the member of the armed forces that came after, an informative read
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