Book review : GB84

GB84GB84 by David Peace

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GB84 is a novel about the Miners Strike that took place in Great Britain between March 1984 and March 1985. It is not a straightforward retelling of the events that took place over that year but rather a fictionalised account of the time and certain events that happened during the strike.

The book has a large cast of characters from striking miners, to members of the national union of miners, to policemen and members of the special services, government ministers.

The narrative is sprawling, taking the reader on a journey through the strike itself and how it affected all of the players in the novel. The novel is unremittingly grim, much like the time itself, and you really get a feeling of what it must have been like in those dark times, and it is hard to believe that it was only thirty years ago, as a lot of what is said in this book is still relevant today.

I only know little bits of what happened during the miners strike as I was only 9 years old at the time and have only read about it after the event but I am not sure that I know much more than I did before apart from the sheer brutality of some of the events and how it ripped families and communities apart.

As a bit of a lefty myself I found myself more sympathetic to the miners and the unions than I were to a lot of the other characters in the book, especially the government types.

The writing style was different and did take a bit of getting used to but once you were used to it, it really worked and it started to actually be quite hypnotic.

If you want an idea of what it might have been like back in those days, and the atmosphere of the times then read this book, but, if you want a factual account of the strike, then read one of the books that is listed at the back of the book instead.

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