Why did I love this book?
I was on somewhat of a “history of the IRA” kick this year (that’s the Irish Republican Army, not the Inflation Reduction Act!). I read a review of There Will Be Fire (ominously titled Killing Thatcher in the UK) in The New Yorker and picked up a copy.
The book is history that reads like a novel. It traces the story of IRA operatives who, in 1984, planted a massive bomb at a UK beach resort that just barely missed killing the UK Prime Minister (and her husband) while killing or injuring many others and destroying most of the historic building.
I had never even heard of this incident—and indeed, that’s part of Carroll’s tale, that much of it has been lost to history.
The book works on many levels: as political history, as a detective story, as an examination of the evolution of the IRA and its tactics, as a time-capsule of Britain as it was bombed repeatedly during the Troubles, and as a counter-factual: how might the UK government been have been different had Thatcher died? And, in fact, how was she (and it) changed after the bombing?