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The Great Irish Potato Famine Hardcover – May 25, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s, one of the major human catastrophes of modern times, has been popularly perceived as a genocide attributable to the British government's actions and failures to act. In professional historical circles, however, such thinking was dismissed for many years, as evidenced by the scathing academic response to Cecil Woodham-Smith's 1963 classic, The Great Hunger: Ireland, 1845-49, which, in addition to presenting a vivid and horrifying picture of the human suffering, made strong accusations against the British government and its officials. Donnelly (Irish history, Univ. of Wisconsin) has written an intelligent, thought-provoking, and well-written book that, among other things, is a very useful survey and synthesis of the current debates about and researches into the origins and causes of the famine. Donnelly supports Cecil-Woodham's charges of British governmental sins of both omission and commission in the famine but puts those charges in a broader context, including discussion of class and regional influences on the famine in Ireland itself. The chapter notes, indexing, and bibliography are of good quality. This book would be an excellent choice to accompany and update The Great Hunger. Highly recommended for both academic and public libraries. Charlie Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., SUNY at Brockport
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


'This is unquestionably the most comprehensive single account of the Irish catastrophe...' Professor Peter Gray, Queen's University, Belfast ' ... many historians have written excellent books about the great Irish famine ... Donnelly's is the best and most comprehensive of them all.' Kerby Miller, Middlebush Professor of History, University of Missouri, Columbia 'James Donnelly's book is likely to become the classic account of the Great Famine, and the first port of call for both students and general readers.' Professor Peter Gray, Queen's University, Belfast --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing (May 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750926325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750926324
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James S. Donnelly, Jr. (born 1943) is a modern British and Irish historian. Donnelly is a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. One of the most prolific and wide-ranging historians of Ireland, he has also been a leading figure in the promotion of Irish studies in North America. Donnelly is a former president of the American Conference for Irish Studies, and a current co-editor of the journal Éire-Ireland. His first book, The Land and the People of Nineteenth-Century Cork, was awarded the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the American Historical Association.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Although many have heard about the "Patato Famine" in Ireland in 1845-1847; they actually know and understand very little about what happened during those few years and more importantly the effects it had on Ireland right up till the end of the 19th Century.

To understand what happened ,it is imperative that one understand the history of Ireland for at least 100 years before and know that Britain ruled totally all aspects of life in Ireland. All the laws,all the land ownership,all the imports and exports,schooling,religion,policeing,social services,government,military,and thus was responsible for things whether physically or with the people,rich,poor or in between;being the way they were when the potato crop was affected with Phytophthora Infestans in 1845 and 1846 and subsequent years.

No other disease in Europe has been written about more than this "Famine" other than The Black Death of the 1350's.As the Black Death changed forever the way of life in Europe,the "Famine" had a similar affect on Ireland.

This book attempts to cover all aspects of the "Famine" and particularly tries to resolve the question of whether the death and devastation had to be as bad as it was; whether Britain was content to allow the country to be ravished,or even if Britain's actions atually magnified the problem.In more blunt words ;"Was there really a Famine or or was it Genocide on the part of Britain?

The book contains a great amount of data,but then again the source of the information is from government controlled records.

One must read between the lines and realize that it was not the wealthy,government officials,the landowners,and the Anglo Irish,that died in huge numbers,lost their land,and emigrated to America;while Britain looked on.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Mr. Donnelly's book. Admittedly it is my first one on this subject so I am not sure how it compares to others. The book it well researched, organized and written however, it wasn't what I was looking for. I thought it was interesting, however, that the British government did anything at all to help however, it was not enough, way too late, too eratic and not for long enough with disastrous consquences.

Chapter after chapter there are statistics and percentages for this county or that county and then the same thing is compare to pre-famine years then post famine years and sometimes year by year through out the famine period for instance, the importation of grain products. Too much! If you are looking for personal narratives or local stories or historical consequences around the world, Britain and Ireland this is not your book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is well-researched and has plenty of information on the Irish Potato Famine. However, it is repetitive and reads like a textbook. If you need it for research, you're all set. If you want a good novel, keep searching.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After recently visiting Ireland for the first time and hearing some stories, seeing remains of potato rows on the hillsides, it really activated my interest in getting some facts. This book went into great detail of all the "behind the scenes" activities between governments to help resolve this famine without much financial expenditure.
For those who are interested in Irish History, mid 1800's, this is a must read. A very unfortunate time for the poor and middle class Irish people.
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