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Three Famines: Starvation and Politics Hardcover – August 30, 2011


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Three Famines: Starvation and Politics + Hunger and Hope: Escaping Poverty and Achieving Food Security in Developing Countries + The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610390652
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610390651
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"As reports of east Africa's famine continue to focus on drought and crop failure - natural rather than political causes - Three Famines provides a sharp and timely admonition... Keneally's writing is understated, sometimes to a fault. He witnessed the famine in Ethiopia, yet refuses to tell us what it looked or felt like. The tone is distant, but the occasional glimpses of individual suffering are all the more moving for it." Financial Times "Thomas Keneally...writes vividly about the depths to which human beings descend during famines... The book is both reportage of starvation and analysis of how famine is made. The 'politics' in his subtitle points to the fact that drought, blight and pestilence may be unavoidable but famine is a manmade phenomenon. This may be an elementary point, but it needs to be made time and again." Guardian "The human story of famine is told very well and passionately by Keneally, as one might expect from the author of Schindler's Ark." Irish Examiner" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Thomas Keneally won the Booker Prize in 1982 with Schindler’s Ark, later made into the Academy Award-winning film Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg. He has written ten works of non-fiction, including his recent memoir Searching for Schindler. His novels The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Gossip From the Forest, and Confederates were all shortlisted for the Booker Prize, while Bring Larks and Heroes and Three Cheers for the Parclete won the Miles Franklin Award. He lives in Australia.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Romi Mahajan on September 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For those interested in the related issues of hunger, starvation, and the human consequences of venal politics, Three Famines is a book worth reading. Keneally discusses three Famines (the Irish potato blight, the Bengal famine of 1943-4 and the recurring Ethiopian famines) in the context of ideology, policy, and the amazing lack of empathy decision-makers have for the poor. He finds a common thread in these crises, including the physical and psychological effects on the people who suffer but also in the ways in which famine is responded to by governments and aid organizations.

While Keneally does not go as in depth on the Bengal famine as Madhusree Mukerjee (in her book Churchill's Secret War) or on the Irish famine as in many other works, his knowledge of and description of the Ethiopian famines is top-notch.

The book is a very easy read (though the content is hard to get through for the empathetic). I would have liked to divine more "outrage" but very likely Kenneally feels it but wants the reader to find it her/himself.

I recommend this book without hesitation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lynn on January 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Keneally, in his recent book Three Famines, takes a rather clinical approach to mass starvation. The reader expecting any sentimentality toward the victims of such eras will not find it here. Readers will, however, come away with a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to famines. Keneally makes his points through revisiting the potato famine in Ireland, the Bengal starvation in 1942, and the Ethiopian experience with intermittent famines later in the century. He makes the case that each of the three resulted from the ideology and mindsets of governmental leaders, racial perception, and administrative bungling or malfeasance. Segments of the book are not for the faint of heart, but a reading of this volume will open and inform the minds of all who take the time for it.
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By R. Humelbaugh on November 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this work to be both scholarly and readable. It lays blame for famines directly where it needs to be, centralized governments. It also shows the physical, cultural, and personal effects of starvation on different groups. Very informative and fascinating book.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T on October 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought this book was a bit chaotic and tried to make analogies that were broad enough to be more than obvious. By using famine's that were all over the place historically it was hard to analyze what extraneous pressures came to bear on the institutions and people responsible for the catastrophes. The initial descriptions of the effects of hunger were extremely enlightening but the rest of the book was a jumble of ideas and histories and did not form any cohesive argument.
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