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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 1 .


Lost Lives: The stories of the men, women, and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles
David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney & Chris Thorton

Mainstream Publishing
1630pp. Index. Bibl. Hb.: 25.00; ISBN 1-8401-8227-X



Of the hundreds of books written about various aspects of the Northern Ireland conflict, this one will be ranked as one of the most important. At 1,630 pages it is an impressive publication that is reasonably priced and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in 'the Troubles'. Academic researchers will find it indispensable. The book contains details, listed in chronological order, of 3,637 deaths arising from 'the Troubles' (from 1966 to July 1999). In addition to basic information on each person killed, almost all entries contain a short account of the individual and the manner of their death. These accounts are partly comprised of text written by the authors. This original text is supplemented with extracts from contemporary newspaper or television items based on interviews of the relatives and friends of those killed, and in some cases information from eyewitnesses. While other lists of deaths have been produced in the past, it is the detail in the accounts of the people killed that make this book unique. Contained within the pages is the basic human tragedy of 'the Troubles'. All the deaths are treated in an impartial, non-judgemental way. In addition to the 2,037 civilians killed, the book covers the deaths of security force members and those who belonged to Loyalist and Republican paramilitary groups. Over and above the information on the people killed, the text often provides an insight into the suffering of family members and friends. Another feature of the book is that links between deaths are also highlighted. The book does have some minor errors, for example a few of the dates of death were incorrect, but these don't detract from the overall value of the work. Arriving at a total number of deaths from the conflict is not as straightforward as it might first seem and difficult decisions have to be taken about what constitutes a conflict-related death. Judgements about whether or not to include accidental shootings or traffic accidents involving military vehicles will affect the total figure. As mentioned above a number of groups and individuals have produced lists of those killed since the conflict began. Each of these lists has arrived at a different total depending on the assumptions made. Prior to the publication of 'Lost Lives', the last comprehensive list of deaths that was published commercially was the book 'Bear in Mind These Dead ... An Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland 1969-1993' by Malcolm Sutton (1994; now out of print). Recently Sutton's data was revised, updated, and made available on-line at the CAIN web site (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton). There has also been a comprehensive study of the conflict-related deaths by the 'Cost of the Troubles Study' and extracts from all the resulting reports and publications are also at the CAIN site (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cts). The authors of 'Lost Lives' mention in the introduction that they hope to produce a version of the book on CD-ROM. This would be a welcome addition because of the extra facilities that the technology would allow.


Martin Melaugh, University of Ulster.



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