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The Great Hunger: Ireland: 1845-1849 Paperback – September 1, 1992
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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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting and informative, and fills in many gaps in my knowledge of English-Irish relations, and answers many questions as to the state of affairs between the two countries... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Kiwimezzo
I feel strongly that when this was written it provided a truer view of what actually occurred, if written today it would not. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Steven E Hunnicutt
Yet another example of England's persecution of the Irish which cost 1 million lives and forced a further million to flee to North America which was the Limeys lament. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Wordsworth
I was a little disappointed as I bought it for a gift and because it was listed as new. When it arrived there was a tear on the back cover. Other than that it was in great shape.Published 10 months ago by Jean Macdonald