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GB84 [Paperback]

David Peace
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 4 Mar 2004 --  

Book Description

4 Mar 2004
Great Britain. 1984. The miners' strike. It is the closest Britain has come to civil war in fifty years, setting the government against the people. David Peace's sweeping, bloody and dramatic fictional portrait of the year that left an indelible mark on the nation's consciousness covers a broad and unexpected canvas of characters. In his trademark visceral prose, Peace describes the insidious workings of the boardroom negotiations and the increasingly anarchic coalfield battles; the struggle for influence in government and the dwindling powers of the NUM; and the corruption, intrigue and dirty tricks which run through the whole like a fault in a seam of coal. Stylish, riveting and appalling, GB84 is a shocking fictional documentation of the violence, sleaze and fraudulence that characterised Thatcher's Britain. David Peace has written a novel extraordinary in its reach, and unflinching in its capacity to recreate the brutality and passion that changed the course of British history in the late twentieth century. 'A genuine British original.' Guardian 'Peace is a writer of such immense talent and power . . . If Northern noir is the crime fashion of the moment, Peace is its most brilliant designer.' The Times

Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; 1st Paperback Edition edition (4 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571214452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571214457
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.5 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,065,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

GB84, David Peace's fifth novel, is a gripping, tautly plotted dramatisation of the miners' strike in which real events (Orgreave, the Brighton bomb) and real people (Arthur Scargill, Margaret Thatcher, Ian MacGregor) mingle imperceptibly with his creations. "This novel", he notes in the acknowledgements, "is a fiction, based on fact" and those who recall The Comic Strip Present's Hollywood skit Strike will be happy, to discover that Peace does not take liberties with the strike's trajectory. Key events are faithfully chronicled here but his 1984 is, arguably, as sinisterly dystopian as anything Orwell could have envisioned.

How, perhaps, could it not be? His novel plunges into the very heart of the darkest days of Thatcherism. Inhabiting, in prose, so gaunt in places it feels as though it could easily have been lifted from surveillance reports, a political epoch when fear about an imminent nuclear apocalypse led to "99 Red Balloons" topping the charts and Mrs Thatcher declared open season on the striking miners, branding them the enemy within.

The nefariousness of the government's overt and covert campaigns against the miners is tapped a la James Ellroy for their full dramatic effect. In Stephen "The Jew" Sweet, a strike-bashing arch-media manipulator and his driver-cum-henchmen Neil Fontaine with his neo-Nazi hirelings, Peace represents the insidious practices of a state hell bent on crushing the dispute. While his portrayal of a hubristic Scargill and an NUM executive, beset by incompetence, corruption, bureaucracy and petty rivalries, depicts a union management hopelessly outflanked by comparison. The ordinary miners (whose plights are voiced by Peace in a couple of running narratives in Yorkshire dialect) are left to face the grind of the strike. Their desperation and, not unjustified paranoia, neatly illustrated by one striker's belief that Band Aid has been contrived to wrestle donations from the miners' charitable fund. --Travis Elborough


GB84 is a novel of ambitious political scope and sustained anger, defiantly out of step with these times. -- Literary Review, March 204

‘A genuine British original.' -- Guardian

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Underworld UK 12 Mar 2004
It's always been a given that David Peace is in hock to another crime writer with the initials J.E. and it's probably also the case that he's sick of hearing about it. However, he can't help but invite comparisons by following up a dark, region-specific quartet of crime books with a broader, more political novel that occurs chronologically after the last book. So this, then, is Peace's 'American Tabloid', and as Ellroy retreated to more conventional prose style after the ultra-lean, hyper-wired, beatnik-isms of 'White Jazz', so too does Peace abandon the more surreal, stylised linguistic curlicues that characterised '1980' and '1983' for a more prosaic, less-frenzied and sadly less poetic approach. This is certainly a pity, as with these last two books he was close to forging a distinctive authorial voice of his own. I, for one, was certainly awaiting his next novel with interest
That said, this novel is far from being a disappointment. In some ways, the Miner’s Strike and it’s various political and contributory sub-strata is perfect subject matter for Peace. Well structured, informative and still topical 20 years after the events it describes, Peace doesn't really put a foot wrong. As someone raised by Tories and who was 8 years old at the time, it certainly made me consider the media portrayal of events that I’ve not thought about for years. Best digested in as few as sittings as possible so as to keep track of the various minions of various trade unions, it has enough ‘secret’ (or ‘occult’, as Peace would have it) history and factual verisimilitude to work on both the intended levels. Occasionally, it’s downright thrilling, if never quite audacious enough to make you drop the book in disbelief at what you’re reading.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scab! Scab! Scab! 1 Nov 2006
I came to this book after reading Peace's brilliant "The Damned United" and found it another very powerful piece of writing. I am old enough to remember the miner's strike and the huge divisions it caused throughout the country. Peace has managed to convey this with the number of plots and sub plots that run through the book. Some of these do not quite work, however, what does come across and what Peace describes with great clarity is the anger and the sense of the inevitablity of the strike's conclusion. Anyone who feels nostalgic for the Thatcher years should read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fails to live up to its early promise 29 Mar 2010
GB84 starts at such a terrific pace that you can feel yourself right in the middle of the occassionally-shown archive footage of the Battle Of Orgreave. The novel's strength lies in its portrayal of the struggles endured by a pair of striking miners in their communities and with their consciences as the dispute lengthens to one year. Where GB84 fails is in David Peace's fantasy world of surveillance, fascist hit squads and the machinations of union officials and the Government's appointed strike breaker. The conclusion for the miners is known as fact and Peace's handling of the disputes endgame from their perspective is sympathetic and free from ambiguity. Unfortunately, he fails to achieve a satisfactory closure on the other strands of his story. The demise of a series of unsympathetic, emotionally flawed, under-developed and almost superfluous characters and their grubby plotlines left me with an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction, despite the vivid scene-setting of the early months of the strike.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but wonderful! 28 July 2010
By Pam
Wow!! I have just finished this book and what roller coaster ride! I read a lot of books but I don't normally write book reviews unless I am particularly moved - and I found this book incredibly moving. I will deal with the negatives first as there are quite a few. The book is written in different strands, each strand denoted by different type face which I eventually got used to but I found it quite difficult at first.

There are large sections of this book that I still don't understand properly and I will admit to having no idea what Peace was on about! The `Mechanic' seemed to be there only to confuse and certainly succeeded with me, I still don't know what he was doing. The book was overly complicated by obscure references, statements and images and often seemed to assume knowledge that I for one didn't have. The supposed thriller aspect concerning Neil, Diane and the Mechanic was never as interesting as it thought it was - and as for Terry............well, still not sure about his sad little character. I also found the sexual imagery to be very male - but given that the main cast of the book is male as is the author I won't complain too loudly.

Having said all of this, the book as a whole is very readable once you stop trying to make sense of it because each story sort of works on its own.

On the positive side, the two miner's tales are extraordinary and heartbreaking - just heartbreaking. The writing is wonderful in this strand, you can hear their voices and feel the pulse of their lives and they feel like real people, I wanted to know what happened to them after the strike. The miners were ordinary working men who knew that their jobs were at stake and dared to make their protest heard in what they assumed to be a democratic country.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim and truthful - because reality can be bleak.
Really grim, but realistic and truthful. I could not stop reading it, particularly as I was a student in 1984 in South Yorkshire and engrossed in the Miner's strike and incensed... Read more
Published 22 days ago by djh
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad
Bloody awful. Gave it a chance and managed five pages - dross. Badly written, could have been a good book if someone else had written it.
Published 4 months ago by Mr. Jbs Selby
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I found this lacking in any coherent form. Very difficult to read, not especially accurate ( I was there) and the use of extreme language unnecessary. Read more
Published 5 months ago by BC Chandler
4.0 out of 5 stars Great mix of history and fiction
My favourite author. Great mix of history and fiction as ever with a David Peace novel. Recomended for fiction and modern british history fans alike.
Published 8 months ago by Mr Paul Turnbull
5.0 out of 5 stars Peace of our time
Inspiring view of Britain in the '80's. biting, incisive writing, great characterisation, and in places absolutely gut wrenching, exasperating and often just unputdownable.
Published 10 months ago by jayne reeves
5.0 out of 5 stars really good and relevant today
very good read, I was a teenager when all this happened and I dont know what is fact and what is fiction but really felt it captured the feeling of the times depressing but... Read more
Published 10 months ago by kindleaddict
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best thrillers I ever read.
A vibrant description of the social clash between the tories govt and the miners...... difficult to read for a non-english speaker, but outstanding.
Published 19 months ago by léon diezel
1.0 out of 5 stars Emperors New Clothes
Seeing as I live in Yorkshire and am always a sucker for reading books where I actually know the places mentioned as well as the 1980s being my decade (ie that was when I had my... Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2012 by Young Goblin
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't finish it. Completely confused
I found this very confusing, couldn't understand it, learned nothing about the miners' strike (apart from how Martin felt) and the writing style (Terry Winters opened the door. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2011 by Skaty Katie
3.0 out of 5 stars War of Attrition
Coming off the back of the Red Riding Quartet, I was intrigued to continue with more of Peace's work and the natural flow of things took me to GB84. Read more
Published on 22 April 2010 by bloo_toon_red
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