This is a book about murder most foul. It’s about murder in wartime, when one more corpse should really pass unnoticed amidst all the other carnage.
This is a book about trying to do the right thing, when you have not the first clue about how you really should go about that. And it’s a book about war, about what war excuses, and about what war forces young people to do.
This is a book that has been born out of my unique perspective gained from growing up in South Armagh during the Troubles, and decades spent as a humanitarian and human rights worker dealing with the consequences of violence and injustice from Afghanistan to Angola.
I started writing this book because, in spite of the bloodshed that still disfigures so much of the world, too many people, particularly political leaders, still seem to have such a glib view of war as to be ready to blunder into it at the earliest convenience.
This book is an important one because it seeks to put a human face to the savage complexities of war and its consequences.
It is set during the Irish War of Independence in 1920 in a part of the West of Ireland from which all British administration, including the Constabulary, have been driven. Two members of the IRA on police duty find the body of a young boy, apparently drowned. But one of them, a veteran of the First World War, recognises violence when he sees it. So, in spite of a complete lack of detective experience, the two set out to see if they can find some measure of justice for the murdered child.
Neither of them realise just how dangerous their task will become.
Dr Aidan McQuade in an independent researcher and consultant who was Director of Anti-Slavery International, the oldest international human rights organisation in the world, for 11 years. During his tenure as Director Anti-Slavery's achievements have included holding the states of Niger and Greece to account in an international court for failing to protect people from slavery, obtaining a new statute in British law proscribing forced labour, ensuring victim protection provisions in the UK's Modern Slavery Act, obtaining the inclusion of slavery eradication in the Sustainable Development Goals, obtaining the recognition by international institutions that force marriage as a form of slavery, and mounting a series of investigations identifying where forced labour is used in the production of goods for western markets.
Before joining Anti-Slavery International Aidan worked for over 13 years in humanitarian response, development and human rights. This included periods in Ethiopia and Eritrea working on rural water supply and soil conservation, and Afghanistan, in the months before the Taliban take over, where he undertook emergency water supply in the war displaced persons camps outside Jalalabad. He spent five years in Angola at the end of the civil war managing an emergency relief programme for over a quarter of a million people in the besieged cities of the interior as well as working with the UN on the implementation of a programme of human rights protection of civilians from military excesses.
Aidan comes from South Armagh in Ireland and studied civil engineering in Queen’s University Belfast and business in Strathclyde University, Glasgow. In 2010 Aidan completed his doctoral thesis entitled, "Doing the right thing: human agency and ethical choice-making in professional practice", and in 2013 he won BBC Mastermind, with his specialist subjects of Abraham Lincoln, Michael Collins, and the novels of Denis Lehane.
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17th August 2022Some Service to the State
Well, since the publication of The Undiscovered Country, a lot of you have been asking about follow ups, and what happens to the characters next.
So, over the last year or so I have been writing a sequel entitled, "Some Service to the State." It's about the repercussions arising from the search for a missing girl in the border country of a newly partitioned Ireland in 1925. I finished…
8th October 2021The Undiscovered Country, one year on...
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude”
– A.A. Milne
Well, The Undiscovered Country has been out in the world for just over a year now. Some people have loved it: The Irish Times did, after all, call it a “smart and pacy debut”. Some people have hated it with the bright and shinning passion…
4th February 2021Read All About It!
Hope you are all keeping well during this second winter of Plague.
Just before Christmas I had a very nice conversation with Paul Cuddihy for his excellent podcast, Read All About It. In this Paul chats with various guests about
I wrote to you all on the 3 August preuming that you all had received your copies of The Undiscovered Country. HOWEVER, the lovely folk at Unbound have just sent me a note to say that there are 32 of you, that's right one for every county in Ireland, who have not received your copies yet.
The reason? You have not confirmed your delievery…
2nd October 2020What do you think? Shall we Zoom?
The Irish Times called The Undiscovered Country a “smart and pacy debut that throws light on a historical period worthy of further exploration.”
The Sunday Times Crime Book Club complained a bit about its bad language.
More importantly though is what you all thought about it, all the folk who have supported this project from the its earliest days.
Marty Sandler, American National Treasure…
3rd August 2020It's a bit gritty, but that's the modern world - Father Ted Crilly
I hope by now you have all received your copies of The Undiscovered Country. I know that some of you have already read it. I can't tell you how delighted I was to hear how much most of you have enjoyed it.
Well it has been a long and winding road, but finaly - FINALLY - we have a publication date! Fingers crossed: subscribers will receive their copies of The Undiscovered Country this coming May, with the book going on general sale in August.
Thanks to all of you for all of your patience and support these long months.
Keep well and stay safe
3rd September 2019Discover the Cover
Hope all well with you all. We’re moving forward slowly. But we recently hit an important milestone which I wanted to share with you. Its the COVER!
Hope you like it.
Keep well all
28th May 2019Proof that things are moving along!
Proof copy arrived in the post on Saturday, so I'm currently working my way through it, looking for typos.
It's a slow enough process, but we're getting closer to the day when I get to share with you all this tale of dark deeds in the wild west of Ireland.
Keep safe all
4th March 2019So... what happens next?
So sorry that I haven’t posted an update in a while. But I’ve been working away at various edits of The Undiscovered Country to get it ready for publication. I’ll keep you posted as the book design progresses and publication dates become clearer.
As I was editing I began to wonder what happened next to some of the characters who survive the pages of The Undiscovered Country. I began to ponder on…
23rd October 2018Third review is in!
I'm very grateful to be able to post another review in this occassional series. Today I'm delighted to be able to post one by my friend Nick Kinsella. I first met Nick about 12 years ago when he was heading the UK's Human Trafficking Centre, and leading on the creation of more effective policing responses to crimes of contemporary slavery in the UK. Nick is, as you may have gathered, a PROPER detective…
30th September 2018The second review is in!
Very grateful to my friend Meena Varma, connoisseur of crime - and champion of human rights - for being so kind as to find the time in the midst of her tireless struggle against caste-based apartheid as Chair of the International Dalit Solidarity Network, to write a review of The Undiscovered Country.
I wanted Meena’s opinion of the story from early on not just because, as a someone who appreciates…
24th September 2018On the road to publication
Just wanted to let you all know I’ve now submitted my manuscript to Unbound. I’ll update you all with news of progress as I receive it.
I wanted to also say enormous thanks to all of you who have been so supportive and encouraging from the first inkling of an idea sitting over dinner one night in Geneva reading Charles Townsend’s The Republic, to finally hitting the 100% mark in the funding drive…
7th September 2018It’s in extraordinary situations that you really find what people are made of
Noel Adams, a journalist with Belfast’s best newspaper, The Irish News, did an interview with me at the beginning of August, which has just now been published. It’s about life, war, humanitarian response and the writing of The Undiscovered Country. I probably rambled a bit - I was doing the interview on a bad phone line from the bowels of the UN in New York. But I hope you enjoy.
7th August 2018First review is in...
I mentioned a few updates ago that a few people have actually read The Undiscovered Country, and it was, in the main, their encouragement that led me to embark on this publication project. So I thought rather than just have me write about the book in these updates I would ask a few of them to compose reviews of the book to share their thoughts. Kind people that they are most of them didn't even need…
15th July 2018I bet that Plato fella never had these problems...
Tantalus was a figure in Greek mythology who, starving and thirsty, was cursed to stand for eternity in water that would recede from his lips when he bent to drink from it, and beneath a berry tree that would withdraw from his grasp when he reached for food.
Greek mythology is full of chaps like that – Odysseus blown back out to sea to continue his wanderings for years more just as he sees the…
15th June 2018Human is wolf to human, but not always
Last month I was in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (photo), in the camps of that are now home to almost three-quarters of a million Rohingya refugees, driven from their homes by the government of their own country. Those camps will now, due to the monsoon rains, look like a First World War battlefield, a quagmire of mud in which people have already died.
8th June 2018Appositely enough, Karma is an Indian word
My PhD supervisors once advised me to set aside my thesis for a couple of months and then to reread it. It would be like looking at it with new eyes.
So, because this week I have passed the 82% funding level and hopefully will very soon be able to share this story with you, I have been going over The Undiscovered Country again, for the first time in several months. I’m trying to catch typos…
25th May 2018Hold on! I have a cunning plan!
Some of the fellows I was at school with I haven’t seen in over 30 years. Yet they’ve been among the first to get their credit cards out to subscribe to the publication of my book, The Undiscovered Country. Adolescence is one of the most miserable times of your life. But the bonds that arise from enduring it together, in our case in the shadow of British Military Occupation securing a “hard” border…
21st May 2018Approaching anniversaries: The Undiscovered Country
I went to see Sean O’Casey’s play The Plough and the Stars a few weeks ago. It was the celebrated 2016 Abbey Theatre production which got a belated transfer from Dublin to London.
O’Casey wrote the play to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 1916 rebellion. It caused a storm. After one particularly rambunctious performance WB Yeats, a co-founder of the Abbey, confronted a disruptive audience…
3rd May 2018Getting there: The Undiscovered Country reaches 70% funding
I just wanted to send you all a note to say that I’ve reached the next big milestone on the road to publication of The Undiscovered Country, and finally passed the 70% threshold. Lore in Unbound, as I’ve mentioned before, is that all books which pass this threshold get published, which is enormously encouraging, but still a little way to go before we see it coming hot off the presses.…
26th April 2018Belfast: what was once, might be again
Last week I visited Belfast to speak at an event commemorating Belfast’s role in the anti-slavery struggle of the 19th Century. It was a memorable visit for a number of reasons.
The event, organised by Reclaim the Englightenment, a group set up to remember Belfast’s radical heritage, was held in the Shankill Public Library. It was the first occasion I ever spent any time in this, the heart…
2nd April 2018Easter reflections on The Undiscovered Country
This week I’ve been reflecting on Easters past.
Easter Week 1916 was the beginning of the Irish War of Independence. Historians still argue over how necessary or justifiable that war was to achieve Irish independence. But whatever the rights and wrongs of it in the grand, historical scheme of things, at the most basic level it followed a bloody path of ordinary people doing…
18th March 2018The book they don’t want you to read: The Undiscovered Country
Memo found in the archives of the Irish Bureau of Military History:
To: Colonel Dan Long
Officer in Charge,
Bureau of Military History,
Cathal Brugha Barracks
4 Sept 1954
Please find attached the portion of former Volunteer Michael Gerard McAlinden’s submission to the Bureau that I mentioned to you, the…
5th March 2018The Undiscovered Country: Half way there!
So, after a long, sometimes gruelling, month in Myanmar/Burma I’m back in London and delighted that The Undiscovered Country has just passed the 50% funding milestone en route to the publication.
One hundred thousand thanks to all of you whose incredible generosity and support has got me this far. I am looking forward to sharing the finished novel with you all, sooner, I hope, rather than later…
2nd February 2018Discovering other countries
“Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart” - W B Yeats, Easter 1916
This past few weeks I have been travelling through some parts of the world affected by more recent and bloodier conflicts than the one I describe in The Undiscovered Country. And yet here the truth that Yeats recognised when reflecting upon the oppression and violence…