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The Great Hunger: Ireland: 1845-1849 Paperback – September 1, 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
Yet through the often thick prose comes a shocking tale of human disaster on an enormous scale. The near-total reliance of the Irish on the potato leads to calamity when that crop is destroyed by blight in the mid-1840's. Beholding to their landlords (many of them absentee), virtually penniless, they are swept into a vortex of helplessness and starvation.
While local officials in Ireland realise with horror the consequences of the crop failure, government bureaucrats in London stubbornly insist it would be wrong to send massive food relief because it would undermine free enterprise.
The author quotes extensively from numerous first hand accounts which graphically describe the suffering and despair of the Irish peasantry.
The book however is not limited to the tragedy that took place in Ireland. Woodham-Smith relates how thousands of Irish, many of them ill with typhus, flee their homeland for North America. Many of the vessels are poorly equipped and provisioned, and their cargo is human misery.
One of the most appalling chapters deals with the scene at Grosse Isle, Quebec, where a small fever hospital is overrun by sick and dying immigrants. At one point in the summer of 1847, dozens of ships are moored in the St. Lawrence River, waiting to discharge their gravely-ill passengers. The line of vessels stretches several miles. The deaths number in the thousands.
This is just one of many compelling images which emerge from Woodham-Smith's history, and they more than compensate for the often complex and detailed way he presents his information.Read more ›
It's not EASY to read but it is absolutely essential reading if you are Irish.
It explains a lot about the historic relationship of England and Ireland as well as the Irish impact on Canada and the United States.
The last 100 pages or so begins to lose some of the fervor of the 1st 350 pages, but it is a compelling and a necessary read if you wish to understand anything about the Ireland of the past 200 years.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I purchased this for my son who is constantly searching for more information on his Irish heritage. He said it is informative and an easy read but wants more.Published 21 months ago by CINDY WILLIAMSON
gave me a good education on the irish famine even tho' it did have a lot of "numbers" in it. i came to realize those numbers are important. Read morePublished on February 10, 2014 by Champlain Valley
Just got back from two weeks in Ireland. One of my relatives came over at the end of the great famine. Wanted to know more about the time period.Published on November 26, 2013 by William D.
Re. the Audible recording of this book: I found the narrator intolerable – to the point that I returned the book, and I have never done that with another Audible book. Read morePublished on July 8, 2013 by Gail Grainne
Very good history of a terrible time in Irish history.
Book in reasonably good condition for a 50 year old book.