A Chicago journalist's low-key but vivid picture of daily life in war-torn Northern Ireland in 1980. When Conroy couldn't get a ""pleasant hotel"" quickly enough (as most American journalists do), he settled on a boardinghouse in Belfast's Clonard district, the heart of the Catholic ghetto. There, his landlady Bridget Barbour and others taught him much of day-to-day Catholic (""Irish Negro"") life. Though he'd planned to move to a more neutral district when a flat opened up, his fascination with what he was learning in Clonard kept him there for the ten months that he remained in Ireland. He witnessed the hunger-strike deaths of Tommy Sands and others, was present for an IRA break-in to his own boardinghouse, developed an intense sympathy for the Catholic situation (though the account he presents is humanistic and levelheaded rather than partisan), and was able to deduce that, despite daily bombings, street attacks, riots, and arrests, life does go on--even pleasurably, at times. With a brief history, he shows that ""The Troubles"" have in fact been present for hundreds of years. Conroy concludes with a quote from King William, who, as he conquered King James for the 36th time in 36 years, is said to have commented, ""We've been doing it so long that we don't need any practice."" In other words, there's no end in sight. Simple, unpretentious, and enlightening: Northern Ireland realistically--and sympathetically--portrayed.