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The Irish Famine: A Documentary Hardcover – July 19, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (July 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312300514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312300517
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,086,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on August 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
The authors have compiled a representative sample of documents concerning the Irish Famine. Not only do you get actual reports of the disease and death that is taking effect, but you also get some British authorities discounting the nature and effects of the famine and some blaming the victims for the famine. This is amazing stuff, as you can see the 19th century mind at work saying the famine is a way to combine the small holdings of the poor farmers together. In the process, millions died and millions more emigrated to countries like Canada, the United States, and Australia.

This is an OK read. The material is written in 19th century language and the reader needs to compensate for this. Otherwise, you can see the bureaucratic nature of the British Empire as it tries to figure out and fight the famine.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lisa M. Hawney on September 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book. Mr Tobin is one of my favorite authors
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While the authors may be good historians and they might even be good authors, this volume doesn't seem to present any of their own work. I'm sure that their work was work, insofar as they took the time to find these documents. But it doesn't seem that there is any value added. Some of the documents, as individual documents, are interesting. But there is no flow, no structure, that adds to my understanding of the whole picture of the famine years. In sum, this book didn't give me much.
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More About the Author

Colm Toibin is the author of four previous novels, The South, The Heather Blazing, The Story of the Night, and The Blackwater Lightship, which was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin.

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