GB84 Paperback – 4 Mar 2004
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was drawn to this book as it seemed to be dealing with a period of British History that seems all too relevant again today. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Adam Ridley
Anyone who lived through the 1980s will probably have quite polarised opinions of the thatcher government and its ideological stance against the unions. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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 morePublished 24 months ago by djh
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 morePublished on 16 Mar. 2014 by BC Chandler
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 on 24 Dec. 2013 by Mr Paul T
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 on 20 Oct. 2013 by jayne reeves
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 morePublished on 10 Oct. 2013 by kindleaddict