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Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850 Paperback – May 2, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Bartoletti provides a balanced account of the economic, political and social repercussions of the blight and the ensuing famine. Food was available but the poor did not have the means to acquire it. The British government was slow to react to the devastation. Irish government officials, landowners, and shopkeepers worked to protect their own interests but, finally, in the end, contributed the greatest amount of financial support to the poor. The Friends Church, operating local soup kitchens, and American relatives, sending millions of dollars in financial support, were allies of the Irish poor during these times.
This book is a wonderful historical recounting of the time and is compelling reading for those of all ages interested in their Irish heritage. Bartoletti brings the horrors of famine and poverty to life. The 150-year old drawings, originally published in the "Illustrated London News", will stay with the reader long after the book is finished. The six-page narrative bibliography is as interesting as the story itself, and provides students and researchers with numerous sources for further study.
Most importantly, the reader leaves feeling that this is not some strange thing that happened to unknown people a long time ago. The feeling of immediacy, and the way the reader is led to empathize with the sufferers, make it fresh and real.
Readers of "Nory Ryan's Song" who want to get the real history of this terrible time should be encouraged to read "Black Potatoes."
Broad in scope and adequate in depth, the book treats the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1850 with a sensitive, compassionate tone, spending great time on the human toll of the Famine, as well as the diseases it invited and the social upheaval it instigated.
Bartoletti vividly illustrates the dehumanizing and horrifying experience of the starving Irish, and explicitly eschews diplomacy to explore the economic and political causes. The book also explores both the (perceived or actual) maintenance and possible exacerbation of the crisis by the English government and the English landlords. Bartoletti concludes that the awkward and faltering relief was so unwillingly given because of staunchly protected laissez-faire economics as well as cultural biases and prejudice against the Irish. These factors created a political climate where merely the forecast of improvement caused the English to quit relief programs, often too soon, thus causing the situation to worsen for the Irish, creating staggering costs - in pounds as well as in lives.
Brief treatment of revolutionary activity is included, as well as interesting exposition of folk beliefs and practices.
This book avoids the "boring history" noose of more densely-written academic works, and is clearly targeted at young adults with its narrative style, but I recommend this for anyone wishing to read more deeply on this subject. Definitely written from an Irish point of view, but well researched and rich in original sources.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am not a historian; but the history lesson of this book was engaging and a real page turner. Enjoy.Published 25 days ago by Lynne
The book was in good shape and it arrived before expected. It was a great price too.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
An easy to read history of this tragic time in Ireland. The author covers the era at both the ground level - with specific stories of individual and family suffering - as well as... Read morePublished 1 month ago by bronx book nerd
I read this book out of curiosity, as some of my family were Irish. I was amazed at the amount of hunger and starvation that occurred due to the potato famine. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Robert
People with Irish heritage should read this. No food pantry to go to.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
It was okay. I think "The Great Hunger" and "Paddy's Lament" were better.Published 4 months ago by txrose
Extremely well documented and engaging history by an author who often writes for eighth grade readers, this book is an easy read and a great resource for anyone interested in an... Read morePublished 4 months ago by David Donovan