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Borstal Boy (Nonpareil Books) Paperback – January 1, 2000
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There are four primary strenghts to this great work.
First, the language is witty, charming, and creative. I found the mixture of Irish and British male adolescent working class slang to be musical and amusing. Behan had a wonderful sense of dialogue and the manner in which young men verbally duel with each other, striving for rank and dominance and friendship.
Second, the story is unique. A 17 year old IRA terrorist is arrested and sent to a youth facility full of adolescent petty criminals. The worlds of incarcerated vs. free; adult vs. adolescent; Catholic vs. Protestant; Irish vs. English: and criminal vs. political prisoner are just a few of the wonderful tensions and juxtapositions that Behan creates.
Third, is Behan's slow pace and ability to observe the most remote details, describe them uniquely, and then weave these streams of images together to create a world and to populate it with characters that ring true with every word.
Fourth, the story is a tremendous testament to the goodness of mankind. Underneath the tensions, the rivalry, the ideology, the story reveals the simple common kindness of mankind. Brendan Behan may have evoked this kindness through his own exceptional openness and acceptance of his fellowman or he may have observed this kindness through this insightful but possibly biased vision of the innate goodness of mankind; but, none the less, his faith in our sometimes distorted and crippled species shines through the autobiography like a beacon of hope.
I wish I could have given more than 5 stars to this superb work. Don't rush through this book. Let Behan take you into his experiences and his kind view of the world of man.
Arrested at a young age in Liverpool with the makings of a bomb, his youth saves him from the usual grim prison sentence faced by Irish terrorists in England. Young Brendan is sent instead to borstal, a sort of English detention center for juvenile delinquents.
Behan emerges from the experience a changed man with reconsidered ideas about the world in which he lives.
This book is simply the most interesting account of prison life I have ever read. This text is the sort that one will return to again and again in the run of the years.
The best I can say is that with each page of this incredible book, I find myself closer to a person I never thought I'd like, let alone truly love.
When all is said and done, Brendan Behan is not about The Cause or The Revolution or liberalism or conservatism or anything. Brendan is a human being, in it for Brendan and his best interests. But don't let this make you think that he is a selfish being. Quite the contrary... Brendan finds the humanity in others, far away from the propaganda and agendas he's been fed since infancy. And in that, Brendan finds the humanity in himself.
He's been gone now for... well, longer than I care to believe. But in this, his most powerful and insightful work, he speaks to an audience that is far from outdated, saying the things he feels and believes, with an honesty that most of us wish we had, but work far too hard to conceal. His candidness speaks to our deepest secrets, and opens up a self-awareness in those who wish to explore it.
I am an avid reader, 40 years and going... and I count this as my single favorite book. That is not a distinction given lightly.
Brendan Behan may not be here now, but his message of humanity and humor and growth is ageless. I can only hope that more people take a moment to read it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Behan writes literature in the truest sense of the term. His writing transports you to the time and place. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Michael H. Hart
So I've watched the movie multiple times. Reading the book is somewhat spoiled for me and the differences made in the adaptation are immediately apparent. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Garth R. Mailman
So well written you can hear them talking to you, great hummer.Published 21 months ago by Donald Walshe
Perhaps I'm a total pleb but I fail to see the attraction to this book - definitely NOT a page turner and not at all what I was expecting based on the reputation of Behan - in... Read morePublished on April 11, 2014 by Doreen Bourke
behan was agreat writer who lived a great life and died too early but wrote many books and plays that are favorites of minePublished on November 13, 2013 by donald egan