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Watching the Door [Hardcover]

Kevin Myers
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2008
"Watching the Door" is the memoir of an ordinary young man who drifted into a war zone, made it his home and, somehow, emerged unscathed.After Kevin Myers graduated from university in 1969, a chance job application landed him a position as a journalist in Belfast, reporting on the Troubles. There, he was absorbed quickly into the local community. Soon he became privy to the secrets of Protestant and Catholic paramilitaries alike. In his darkly funny account of life on the streets, Myers evokes with searing clarity a society on the brink of civil war. His memoir is a remarkable portrait of those divisions, from the dedicated violence of loyalist gangs and provos to the behaviour of paratroopers, squaddies, Northern Ireland's police force and the wider population.Raw, candid and courageous, "Watching the Door" recalls the bloodiest time in Northern Ireland's recent past. It is a coming-of-age story like no other.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Reprint edition (1 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843547287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843547280
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 492,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Dark, witty, grim, caustic, despairing, wise, searingly honest and beautifully written... The best informed and most exciting personal account of the Troubles ever published.' -- James Delingpole, Mail on Sunday

'Livid and lucid... You almost feel you are walking those streets, taking hasty cover as a cannonade of machine gun fire barks fatally into the silence.'
-- Tom Adair, Scotsman

'The best book you will ever read about Belfast in the 1970s... Ghastly, hilarious, black with humour, black with death and cruelty, and lucid with humanity.' -- Mary Kenny, Literary Review

'Vibrant, righteously angry, often bleakly funny.' -- Andrew Mueller, The Times

About the Author

Kevin Myers, writer, broadcaster and novelist (Banks of Green Willow, 2001), is author of the best-selling Kevin Myers (2001), a gathering of his celebrated Irishman's Diary in The Irish Times, which he wrote for over twenty-five years. He is now an Irish Independent columnist.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To hell and back 24 Mar 2008
Format:Hardcover
As a 70's child living in England, the troubles in Ireland were something that you were aware of, but unless you were living in London, then they didnt seem to represent an intimate threat to your existence. It wasnt until i had visited my sister in Brighton and saw the damage done by the bombing there, that you kind of got a sense, that no where was perhaps untouchable by this group of people. Step forward to the present though, and thanks to catastrophic errors by this government, the threat of terroism has never been greater. The face of terror may have changed but never its personality.
Reading Kevin Myers book provides an intimate portrayal of the effect that conflict has on individual lives. Lives that were often cut short too soon, leaving many families destroyed forever. Indeed, it is this sense of loss which makes his book for such compelling reading. Who was it that said, 'the first casualty of war, is the loss of innocence'. This is so true, especially his accounts of a family that was wiped out by an IRA car crash.
Like a lot of people i am sure, unless you were there, then the knowledge of what was happening across the shores was limited at best, though as Myers highlights from his own account, you could be there, but still not fully understand the complexity of the situation.
As a novice to the troubles in Ireland, Myers book lends a hand to this lack of knowledge (Loyalists? Who were they?) and reminding you that on all sides of the conflict were there some decent people. Myers book though does have light hearted moments concerning his accounts of his sexual exploits, and some serious drinking in the process. One question though Kevin. How come your liver hasnt gone the way of George Best?
It certainly made for a refreshing read away from some biography by a Z list celebrity, which are in no short supply of these days, and seem to pollute the book shelves at the moment.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "That was Belfast." 10 April 2008
Format:Hardcover
I have read countless books which have used the events of this era as their focus and theme. Having grown up on the fringes of south Belfast myself during the early to late-seventies, I don't think I have ever read such a balanced narrative on "the troubles" and the blinkered tribalism that fuelled them. Even though by the final chapter when Myers writes of "...the darkness of my time there" - and by then we know he means the despair of guilt at possible wrong decisions, a failed love affair which still haunts him, lost friends and general disillusionment at suddenly discovering your twenties are gone - this is nonetheless an uplifting narrative where the writer's appetite for life remains strong. True, for every humorous encounter with, say, a Swedish prostitute ("...how I learnt the "Excuse me" is whorish for goodbye forever...") there are several encounters with terrifying characters such as Rab Brown, the UVF psycopath, and the odious John McGuffin, the bar-room socialist and parasite. This is powerful writing. One gets the feeling that Myers has set out to exorcise his own ghosts. I hope he has succeeded.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd give it six stars if I could 15 Feb 2008
Format:Hardcover
I really am not keen on reading about Northern ireland and the Troubles, too depressing and upsetting, but after two friends in publishing mentioned reading it, I gave it a try. I can't express how good this book is - it's about Myers as a young journalist covering the troubles and the sheer horror of the troubles, drinking with Loyalist psychopaths, sleeping with the wife of a Republican psycopaths, watching the insanity of Belfast. shocking and amusing in parts. outstanding. It also has some incredibly informative narratives where he explains, for example, how the British welfare state inadvertatntly funded the troubles. he charts the evils and stupidities of all sides with a healthy disdain for IRA, UVF and the buffoons in Whitehall and Stormont.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into The Troubles 24 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover
This is a really interesting book. Over the years I have read quite a lot about the Northern Irish troubles. I was also born and raised in Northern Ireland at the time they were happening so witnessed the tensions and have a fairly good understanding of the politics and mind set that existed at the time - something most books go to lengths to try to explain. What grabbed my attention with this book was that it didn't seem to be setting out to explain it, but yet managed to do so better than many that do. Kevin was simply sharing his experiences and explaining his view point at the time and now and how it has impacted his life. What is also interested is that it manages to be quite one sided and yet completely neutral at the same time. Kevin in his youth clearly supported one side over the other but somehow managed to keep a grasp of the complete lunacy that was involved with the whole thing. He believed the view point of one side but would happily mingle with both - something almost completely unthinkable at the time, especially for someone like him with the connections he had, the information he knew and the things he had seen and done - how he is alive and well today to tell his tale is something of a miracle. People were killed for far less than the things this man claims he was getting up to! And yet, years have passed since his time living and working here and with time has come perspective and understanding. He looks back at his younger self and is able to see the flaws in some of the beliefs he once had. He has been able to step back and see that the side he was once against suffered horribly too and that there were no winners in this struggle, only loss on the most cruel and tragic of levels - and not just of life but of youth, and freedom and hope! He has no political agenda now. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars You need to be opinionated to be an opinion columnist, I guess.
Kevin Myers is an opinion columnist in an Irish national daily newspaper. When interviewed he declaims rather than converses, and overall just gets raises my hackles to the point... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hugh Claffey
4.0 out of 5 stars Carnage and carnality
If any proof were needed as to the validity of the adage that “the older one gets the more right-wing one becomes”, then “Watching the Door” must surely be exhibit A. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mark Sean Tynan
4.0 out of 5 stars shocking read
I thought I knew something about what happened during the troubles in Northern Ireland. This book showed me that I had no idea of the scale and depths of suffering that country... Read more
Published 5 months ago by fjonny
4.0 out of 5 stars Phew
Didn't know the half of what was happening over there. Hope things never go back to that state of affairs.
Published 6 months ago by benny
4.0 out of 5 stars Very plausible
author does not make himself out to be an angel. seems to have humanity as a priority. would have liked factual summary to have included fuller history.
Published 6 months ago by Cawsand Fleur
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid account of the "Troubles"
A very brave/foolhardy young man who sought out danger in order to report on the "Troubles". Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr Andrew Powsey
4.0 out of 5 stars On our own doorstep
An extraordinary account of what was a far from ordinary time and way of living and dying. A shocking tale but only scratches the surface.
Published 8 months ago by Derek Noonan
4.0 out of 5 stars a blast from the past
I had started to forget this era (of my youth). It was a mild pleasure to realise that progress has been made. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
sad, knowing, eye opening and laugh out loud funny. i found this book hard to put down. it had me hooked even though parts of it were painful to read. Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2012 by claire52
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it
Hands down, the single most upsetting and amazing book I have ever read. If, like me, you grew up too young to understand the "troubles" in NI but later developed a thirst for... Read more
Published on 11 April 2011 by Fredder
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