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The Great Irish Potato Famine Paperback – September 1, 2008
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From Library Journal
The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s, one of the major human catastrophes of modern times, has been popularly perceived as a genocide attributable to the British government's actions and failures to act. In professional historical circles, however, such thinking was dismissed for many years, as evidenced by the scathing academic response to Cecil Woodham-Smith's 1963 classic, The Great Hunger: Ireland, 1845-49, which, in addition to presenting a vivid and horrifying picture of the human suffering, made strong accusations against the British government and its officials. Donnelly (Irish history, Univ. of Wisconsin) has written an intelligent, thought-provoking, and well-written book that, among other things, is a very useful survey and synthesis of the current debates about and researches into the origins and causes of the famine. Donnelly supports Cecil-Woodham's charges of British governmental sins of both omission and commission in the famine but puts those charges in a broader context, including discussion of class and regional influences on the famine in Ireland itself. The chapter notes, indexing, and bibliography are of good quality. This book would be an excellent choice to accompany and update The Great Hunger. Highly recommended for both academic and public libraries. Charlie Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., SUNY at Brockport
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
'This is unquestionably the most comprehensive single account of the Irish catastrophe...' Professor Peter Gray, Queen's University, Belfast ' ... many historians have written excellent books about the great Irish famine ... Donnelly's is the best and most comprehensive of them all.' Kerby Miller, Middlebush Professor of History, University of Missouri, Columbia 'James Donnelly's book is likely to become the classic account of the Great Famine, and the first port of call for both students and general readers.' Professor Peter Gray, Queen's University, Belfast
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For those who are interested in Irish History, mid 1800's, this is a must read. A very unfortunate time for the poor and middle class Irish people.
To understand what happened ,it is imperative that one understand the history of Ireland for at least 100 years before and know that Britain ruled totally all aspects of life in Ireland. All the laws,all the land ownership,all the imports and exports,schooling,religion,policeing,social services,government,military,and thus was responsible for things whether physically or with the people,rich,poor or in between;being the way they were when the potato crop was affected with Phytophthora Infestans in 1845 and 1846 and subsequent years.
No other disease in Europe has been written about more than this "Famine" other than The Black Death of the 1350's.As the Black Death changed forever the way of life in Europe,the "Famine" had a similar affect on Ireland.
This book attempts to cover all aspects of the "Famine" and particularly tries to resolve the question of whether the death and devastation had to be as bad as it was; whether Britain was content to allow the country to be ravished,or even if Britain's actions atually magnified the problem.In more blunt words ;"Was there really a Famine or or was it Genocide on the part of Britain?
The book contains a great amount of data,but then again the source of the information is from government controlled records.
One must read between the lines and realize that it was not the wealthy,government officials,the landowners,and the Anglo Irish,that died in huge numbers,lost their land,and emigrated to America;while Britain looked on.
Many other books on this subject leave the question still unanswered.However;that is not the view of many who have concluded what the answer really is.
Donnelly mentioned "The Great Hunger" by Cecil Whoodham-Smith.I have read that book and written a Review on October 26,2003. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.
While Donnelly's book has a great amount of data and facts;it also has a large number of excellent drawings of the period.These line drawings and colored reproductions of paintings depicting life at the time.Of the several other books I've read on the Famine;I can't recall one that is so wll illustrated.
Donnelly doesn't really conclude whether it was a Famine or Genocide--he presents the facts,issues,etc.,and leaves the conclusion to the reader.
Overall,a well researched and written book and an excellent overage of the Famine years and the results it had on Ireland.