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The Great Shame: And the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World Paperback – September 12, 2000
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The Great Shame is hypnotically readable, partly because Keneally weaves his many narrative strands so expertly and touches his story with many moments of beautiful writing, but also because it is all, even at its most extraordinary, completely true. The result is astonishingly vivid. What The Great Shame most resembles is a classic 19th-century novel: Dickens, say, or George Eliot. Readers avidly follow Keneally's characters through their successes and their trials, until the very last sentence in the book when, like a master from the classic age of the novel, Keneally pays tribute to "the piquant blood and potent ghosts of the characters to whom we now bid goodbye." --Adam Roberts --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book traces the lives and interconnections of the important rebellious men and their families through their stands in Ireland against the conditions they saw, and their understanding of the reasons for it; 'transportation' to Australia, escapes, returns to Ireland or settlement in America. Through it all, the keen interest in conditions 'back home', and their attempts to influence it. If you have wanted to understand the relationship between the Irish Diaspora, America, Australia, and Ireland, and the depth of feelings and distrust between the Irish and the English, this is the place to start.
The book is sweeping in many respects, its length, the time in History it covers, and the meticulous research that must have been required in its creation. The beauty of the work is it can be read as a major Historical Work or if the reader prefers, a 19th Century novel.
I found the writing to be very dense requiring more time than I normally would take to read such a book. There is so much information that if much of it is new and you wish to really get your mind around it, it requires a good deal of time. I actually read the book in parts and took time to put in to perspective what I had read. This book is probably about double the length or even more than that of the average book today, but don't deny yourself a great read because it takes two hands to carry.
Irish History is not the material that makes for many happy endings. Another reviewer mused about what they would think of this book in England, I think it would be hard to find on a bookshelf! The History of and the time that brackets The Great Famine is as grim as any human suffering you have read before. The English landlords behavior was atrocious and this book pulls no punches in that regard. The Author also talks about some of the more unsavory groups that operated in Ireland and often found themselves on a ship to the other side of the world.Read more ›
This is an epic journey, just as the formation of the Irish diaspora needs it to be. You never quite know where you are you going to go next, as ships sail back and forth from Ireland to Australia and from Australia to the Americas. It is the roaring days of sail just before steam, and gold is being discovered right and left on both sides of the Pacific, sufficient to lend impetus to various Fenian schemes through goldfields' fundraising.
One of the characters involved in the 50s was a man destined to become an American Civil War hero with the rank of general. He fought on the Union side while another Irishman who had fought the same battle as he had at home in Ireland, and had also been transported for it, fought with the Confederates. Such were the fortunes of war at that time.
The book also recounts how the Fenian forces tried on three occasions, prior to Confederation, to invade Canada in order to hurt the British in North America. They also had the long-term plan of mounting an invasion of Ireland from a Canadian base. It was all a bit pathetic in the end, but for a time, it was in deadly earnest and who could have said what the result might not have been had the Fenian forces succeeded.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Actually, if I had just been reading it, the review you request would be coming far too soon, as the book is 712 pages. Read morePublished 21 days ago by bookfan22
Thomas Keneally's The Great Shame, helped me to trace my roots back to Ireland. The book revealed that Mr Keneally's wife and I are related, due to the union and marriage of the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by james coppins
A long and sometimes tiring read, but it is a very good book. The historical events in Australia and America is an accurate depiction of the importance of the Irish.Published 18 months ago by Bay Rat
This book could make the reader angry. That speaks to the quality of the writing. It's well researched. Read morePublished on October 16, 2013 by Jon R. Dickson
The author provides an epic story of the introduction of the Irish in the land "down under", mostly as imprisoned felons. Read morePublished on April 22, 2013 by vdwilliams
The weaving of history and the stories of real people's lives, accounts was hard to follow. Maybe too much detail, maybe style, maybe it's because I'm a weak reader.Published on April 9, 2013 by Henry William Kalweit