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The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy Paperback – September 24, 2013


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The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy + The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; Reprint edition (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1137278838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137278838
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Many intriguing points [are] made in this book…Coogan’s pages spark and sputter with a deep, lingering, well-cherished rage.”--Peter Behrens, The Washington Post

 

“To many, Mr. Coogan… [is the] voice of modern Irish history… makes a compelling case for why we should revisit our current understanding of [the famine].” –The Economist

 

“Coogan’s insistent examining of the moral dimensions of that nation’s policies, and how they fueled the horrors on the ground, represents his greatest contribution to the voluminous scholarship on the Irish famine, and is this book’s greatest strength.”—The Boston Globe

 

“In disturbingly graphic images and compelling language based on true stories from the Famine archives and peppered with his own perspective, Coogan captures the utter devastation wrought by Ireland’s greatest ecological disaster which reduced the population by one fourth.”—Irish Edition

 

“The best part is that it did such a good job at keeping me interested that I'm eager to read on and learn more.”—Fingers and Prose

"Coogan makes no bones about accusing the government of the day of "a genocidal intent" ... His writing on Ireland's past is intelligent and accessible to a large readership." -- BBC History Magazine  

About the Author

Tim Pat Coogan is Ireland's best known historian and the author of numerous important works on Irish history, including Michael Collins and The IRA, published to wide acclaim. The former editor of The Irish Press, he lives in Dublin, Ireland.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book is well worth the read for anyone interested in history, European history and Irish/English history.
CGScammell
The Great Famine or the Irish Potato Famine or the Great Hunger was a national tragedy of epic proportion - a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration.
Evelyn A. Getchell
Author Tim Pat Coogan brings his intimate knowledge of Irish history, his writing skills and his own point of view into play in the creation of this work.
James Gallen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen VINE VOICE on October 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Many of us are familiar with the lore of the Irish Potato Famine but not with its grizzly details. "The Famine Plot" will fill in that gap in our historical knowledge. The theme of this book is that the English government managed the tragedy in a way to convict it of genocide.

Author Tim Pat Coogan brings his intimate knowledge of Irish history, his writing skills and his own point of view into play in the creation of this work. Each chapter is devoted to a particular topic related to the crisis, such as the state of the Irish peasantry at the start of the hunger, the background history of Ireland, the potato that sustained the population, the fungus that attacked it, souperism and the poor laws that sought to alleviate the hunger, the landlords who dealt with it and were targeted because of it, the death and emigration it caused and the public relations of the Famine.

While exacerbating a natural event, the goal of the landlords and the English power structure, according to Coogan, was to use the Famine as a Godsend to rid Ireland of excess population. He tells of the reluctance of landlords to support the breading of priests and those who found it cheaper to pay for emigration than to feed their tenants.

Coogan's strongest condemnation is reserved for Whig government leaders, such as Sir Charles Trevelyan and Lord Palmerston who withheld relief as they used the Famine for their purposes of reshaping the Irish population. He contrasts this to the preceding Tory administration of Sir Robert Peel. Whereas Peel imported American corn to feed the people, the Whigs chose to cease the imports and to sell that already purchased in order to avoid disruption to the market, all while food exports from Ireland continued.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Capt. William Flint on January 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For many of us whose ancestors came from Ireland, the glee which the Irish Famine was received by the English was known but rarely spoke of. It is refreshing to have one such as Tim Pat put it all down in such stark, yet poetic, terms. Some may have issues with the organization of the book or Coogan's style, but it is probably intentional on his part. This is not something to be read like a text and then laid to rest. The writing near forces one to go back, re-read passages, examine time lines and dig deeper into the history.

In a very few pages (only 235), Coogan has managed to stuff decades of genocidal behavior justified and rationalized by faux political beliefs of an astoundingly arrogant ruling class. The plight of the peasant turned out in the storms to wither and die so the land can be "put to better use" such as raising sheep or cattle should not come as any surprise to those that have studied the English attitude towards "her colonies" since the Tudor age.
Yet the attitudes and well organized, systematic efforts to obviously rid the island of the native population are still quite shocking. But perhaps more shocking to the reader is the overwhelming evidence of official English policy to pursue this goal.

Coogan supplies no small measure of direct quotations of the politicians, civil servants and important voices of the era confirming the rationalization of the ruling class to decide the fate of those lessor beings; deciding the so-called human inhabitants of the island were less valuable than pigs or cows and certainly more trouble than they were worth.

This is not an easy read, and probably no examination of the era should be easy.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By LMS VINE VOICE on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this book, Irish historian Tim Pat Coogan, details the British handling of the Irish Famine. The Irish potato famine was a period of 7 years, starting in 1846, in which the potato crop failed in Ireland. As you can tell from the title, this is not a dispassionate historical narrative. Coogan is making the argument that the British actions deliberately made the extent of the tragedy worse and in some ways were a case of ethnic cleansing. He argues this point powerfully, using much primary source material. Particularly singled out is Charles Trevelyan, the assistant to the Treasure who was responsible for administering famine relief. Trevelyan seemed to have antipathy towards the Irish and his policies were of either inaction or of turning British public opinion against the Irish.

This book is reasonably well written and the narrative is interesting. Because this book documents so much human suffering and misery, it is not easy to read but the history it covers is very important. This is a comprehensive history of one of the great European tragedies. Recommend.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I must preface my review by stating that it is intended to be a neutral review, not in anyway critical of the writing, the author, the subject matter, or the author's opinion about the subject matter.

Unfortunately, by Chapter 10 of The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy I had to put the book down; I simply could not go on. Rare is the book I will not read in its entirety and though THE FAMINE PLOT is masterfully written and author Tim Pat Coogan`s scholarship is impressive, the subject matter is quite upsetting to me. My prompt to abandon the book was entirely personal; I found myself weeping, wondering about the Famine's impact on my own Irish ancestors. I can trace my Irish roots back to rural County Meath from where my maternal great-grandparents emigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1880's. Undoubtedly this horrific tragedy in Irish history was felt in some way by my family. Regrettably I will never know to what extent since no one in the family ever passed down the story of the Famine to the later generations.

I do not want to fault the book in any way however. The fault is entirely mine. In addition to my over-sensitivity to the subject matter, I have to confess to being a hopeless fool to fiction and a passionate lover of prose. Mr. Coogan`s dry academic style and sometimes confusing idiosyncratic approach to history often lost me. But I certainly respect all the other reviewers' high opinion of THE FAMINE PLOT and for that reason I rate this comprehensive history of the Irish Potato Famine with 4 stars.
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