From Publishers Weekly
Between 1846 and 1849, the potato blight left some one million Irish citizens dead of starvation or disease; Booker Prize-nominated novelist Colm Toibin (The Blackwater Lightship) and historian Diarmaid Ferriter team up to reconsider the tragedy (was it the fault of the British?) in The Irish Famine: A Documentary. Toibin pens a historiography that acknowledges "no narrative now seems capable of combining the sheer scale of the tragedy..., the complex society which surrounded it and the high politics which governed it," while Ferriter compiles a wide range of documents, including letters, newspaper articles and relief commission reports, to offer a scholarly look at the days of (in the words of a parish priest) "calamity" and "universal doom."
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Novelist Toibin (Blackwater Lightship) and historian and lecturer Ferriter (Dublin City Univ.) have edited and annotated a collection of letters, news reports, editorials, and statistics gathered from primary and published materials about the Irish famine of 1846-48. Contrary to a thesis first introduced in Cecil Woodham-Smith's The Great Hunger (1963), the editors argue that the famine was self-inflicted, shifting blame from the British government to Irish landowners and merchants, who aggravated the distress and profited from it. But this work further accuses historians of ignoring the role of class in the famine. Trying also to provide a study of Victorian language and psyche, the editors juxtapose death tolls and horror stories from the provinces with castigations of the indolent Irish and recipes for cooking rotten potatoes. Having written just 38 pages of narrative, the editors advance their argument using the words of famine eyewitnesses and contemporaries. Some of the excerpts are exceptional, and the concept is powerful, but as a result of the unconventional approach the selections look random and unstructured. Large academic collections will find this title an interesting exercise in alternative scholarly editing. Robert Moore, Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging, Billerica, MA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.