McCann's account of what it is like to grow up a Catholic in a Northern Irish ghetto - first published in 1974 - quickly became a classic account of the feelings generated by British rule. The author was at the center of events in Derry which first brought Northern Ireland to world attention. He witnessed the gradual transformation of the civil rights movement from a mild campaign for “British Democracy” to an all-out military assault on the British state.
This book describes the people involved in the war, gives an account of the springs of the "Catholic" opposition, tells what their world was like and how their background affected the daily conduct of events. McCann gets beyond the rhetoric of the organized groups to the real people involved - people who are not so different from those in any other British town.