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GB84 Paperback – 4 Mar 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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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: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,368,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

Review

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

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 12 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Quite simply this is one of the most forceful and relentless slabs of prose I've ever encountered - and although I may not have succeeded in making it sound like it, that's a definite compliment. People may gripe about the echoes of Ellroy (which I personally feel are less of a big deal than they're made out to be), but Ellroy never made me well with tears at the same time as his writing made me feel like I'd been punched in the throat. Astonishing, in a word.
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This is a remarkable novel that owes far more to Zola's Germinal than it does to James Elroy's novels. True, there is the fragmented dialogue and the astonishing ear for dialogue - the miners' diaries are amazing in their recreation of what it was like to be on the picket line, and the slow decline of the strikers' living standards and lives over the year. And there is the incredibly dark portrayal of the state's manoeuvres around the strike, but Peace is not a cynic, like Elroy, and he is dealing with a social struggle in a fundamentally positive way, unlike Elroy. Peace has heroes - the miners - whereas even the best characters in Elroy's utterly misanthropic books are thoroughly cynical and corrupted by their struggle. This isn't a joyful account of the strike, it is a truer than life portrayal of the forces at work and of the incredibly dark outcome - anyone who doubts that should just look back over the last 20 years and wonder what would have been different (and better) if the miners had won. A very powerful novel, which anyone who was involved in the strike will want to read; those too young to remember it should grab with both hands to understand what went on and why. The parallels with Germinal carry on right to the end, although viewed through a darker glass than Zola used. A fantastic read.
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Format: Paperback
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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