This miracle of autobiography and prison literature begins: “Friday, in the evening, the landlady shouted up the stairs: ‘Oh God, oh Jesus, oh Sacred Heart, Boy, there’s two gentlemen here to see you.’ I knew by the screeches of her that the gentlemen were not calling to inquire after my health . . . I grabbed my suitcase, containing Pot. Chlor., Sulph Ac, gelignite, detonators, electrical and ignition, and the rest of my Sinn Fein conjurer’s outfit, and carried it to the window…” The men were, of course, the police, who knew seventeen-year-old Behan for the anti-imperialist terrorist he was and arrested him. He spent three years as a prisoner in England, primarily in Borstal (reform school), and was then expelled to his homeland, a changed but hardly defeated rebel. Once banned in the Irish Republic, Borstal Boy is both a riveting self-portrait and a clear look into the problems, passions, and heartbreak of Ireland.
Praise for Borstal Boy
Without a doubt the most important book of its kind published this century.