At first glance, “Lost Lives,” this extended piece of journalism in book form, looks like a simple list of names with some brief notes attached to each entry, but to me it is one of the most profoundly moving works I have ever read on the conflict in Northern Ireland or indeed on any other conflict.
Through the simple device of recording every killing that took place from the late 1960s to the early 2000s, the co-authors reveal a tapestry of conflict and suffering that is mesmerizing in its clarity and impact.
There is no editorializing, just a recitation of the facts but which nonetheless delivers an enormous emotional punch as it presents the heartbreaking reality of the lives and deaths of so many people long forgotten by all but their families and friends. And the list includes everyone from the innocent to those involved in terrorism and members of the security forces. Every “lost life” is remembered, every human being honored.
Its superficial simplicity also masks the enormity of the effort in tracking every detail of every death. It took seven years to research and compile.
As a journalist, and one who had covered Northern Ireland at the height of the conflict, this had a profound impact on me, reminding me of the grief that remains when the headlines have long since faded away.