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The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People | [John Kelly]

The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People

It started in 1845 and lasted six years. Before it was over, more than one million men, women, and children starved to death and another million fled the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was one of the worst disasters in the 19th century-it claimed twice as many lives as the American Civil War. A perfect storm of bacterial infection, political greed, and religious intolerance sparked this catastrophe.
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Publisher's Summary

It started in 1845 and lasted six years. Before it was over, more than one million men, women, and children starved to death and another million fled the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was one of the worst disasters in the 19th century-it claimed twice as many lives as the American Civil War. A perfect storm of bacterial infection, political greed, and religious intolerance sparked this catastrophe. But even more extraordinary than its scope were its political underpinnings, and The Graves Are Walking provides fresh material and analysis on the role that nineteenth-century evangelical Protestantism played in shaping British policies and on Britain's attempt to use the famine to reshape Irish society and character.

Perhaps most important, this is ultimately a story of triumph over perceived destiny: for 50 million Americans of Irish heritage, the saga of a broken people fleeing crushing starvation and remaking themselves in a new land is an inspiring story of exoneration.

Based on extensive research and written with novelistic flair, The Graves Are Walking draws a portrait that is both intimate and panoramic, that captures the drama of individual lives caught up in an unimaginable tragedy, while imparting a new understanding of the famine's causes and consequences.

©2012 John Kelly (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"[Kelly's] exhaustive research covers every aspect, threading the gruesome events into a huge panoramic tapestry that reveals political greed lurking behind the pestilence." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (233 )
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  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 10-31-13
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 10-31-13

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

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    "Grueling Historical Account of Mass Suffering"

    I have to say that I do not normally buy purely historical audio books. I got this one on the daily deal at a discount. I much prefer historical FICTION, because I feel like I gain a better perspective on a human level, and I am more vested in the story, as well as the outcome. But I have always been interested in the great potato famine and the Irish people, so I got this one based on many of the recommendations. I feel sure that the historical data is well researched, and it is grueling to listen to. But in my opinion, it lacks HEART. It does, however, explain how something so horrendous can happen. The political times in England then are not far removed from many of the crooked, self-serving politicians of today. And red tape surely wasn't an invention of modern times, was it? The response of the "church" to the potato famine is especially gut wrenching, amounting to human beings proclaiming themselves to be God. I was able to understand the Irish immigration to America better than before, and the Irish Catholic roots here, both socially and politically. However, overall, the book was difficult to "get through". It was hard to keep my place. The scenes, terribly depressing, repeated themselves over and over, and I couldn't keep track of what year it was in Ireland . . . what had already happened and what was happening next.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff 10-02-13
    Jeff 10-02-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Poor audio quality"
    Any additional comments?

    The volume on the recording varied so wildly I found myself having to adjust it almost continually, as well as the median volume on this was abnormally low to start with. Although the book might have had promise, I finally had to give up after a couple of hours of real frustration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Mazama, WA, United States 09-19-13
    Dennis Mazama, WA, United States 09-19-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Great historical research"

    I knew very little of the Irish potato famine other than it happened, after reading this extremely well researched and written book on the subject I am considerably better informed not just of the event but of the politics of the time and the way the people of Ireland lived during that time that made them particularly susceptible to the events that killed one in every three Irish. This is a great history, it is written in wonderful form and the research is spectacular, the scene painted at times is so moving you wonder why we know so little of this extraordinary event, and it is important because history as we know has a way of repeating itself, and the mistakes made that led to this tragedy are forged in todays news and events as well.
    This book is highly recommended, it is important and fascinating and it will leave you the better for spending the time to gain this knowledge of what happened.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 06-10-13
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 06-10-13 Member Since 2011

    Eclectic, avid listener, favorite book is the one currently in ear.

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    "Irish Geneology Joy"

    If you have Irish in your family tree, this is certainly worth a listen to understand what is really meant by "potato famine." I never imagined the extent and ramifications of the famine, nor the lifestyle which precipitated it or the politics which worsened it. No wonder tracing my Irish side is such a nightmare.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Chapin Minnesota 03-06-13
    S. Chapin Minnesota 03-06-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Detail details"

    I was torn between to much detail and detail so great that I could easily picture what the scenes were in vivid detail, no pictures needed. You must truely love history and want the entire picture to read this book. The books states at one point there were people of honor and there was. There were also people who took advantage of the situation to increase their bank accounts. Finally there were those who tried as best they could but lacked the resources they needed. Overall I enjoyed this read very much although, at times i felt overwhelmed with too much detail perhaps because it was such a terrible point in history.
    I would recommend this book to understand what really helped and hurt the Irish people.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd United States 09-24-12
    Todd United States 09-24-12
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    "Whew!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If they are really into history or their Irish heritage.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Graves Are Walking?

    I know there wasn't a happy moment.


    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J.T. 03-31-14
    J.T. 03-31-14
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    "Now I Can Believe the Stories Passed Down"
    What did you love best about The Graves Are Walking?

    Incredible how the sense of entitlement one class feels for another can be so catastrophic. Even if you have no Irish ancestry everyone should listen to how cruelty can rule.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Graves Are Walking?

    The dead Mothers and Fathers. Children abandoned and the perceived reprogramming of the workhouses. Deplorable.


    Which character – as performed by Gerard Doyle – was your favorite?

    This is a narration and marvelous all.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I had to listen in small doses.


    Any additional comments?

    I have told everyone I know about the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Hutch Texas 03-07-14
    Lee Hutch Texas 03-07-14 Member Since 2011

    I am an avid reader/listener. I teach history at a local community college and I enjoy history and mystery/suspense novels.

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    "In A Word......Excellent!"
    Any additional comments?

    As the great-great-great-grandson of immigrants who came to America during "The Great Hunger", I've always had a healthy interest in this tragic period in Irish History. This book did not disappoint. As a community college history professor, I have to admit that when I listen to non-fiction books, I hate the ones that are heavy handed with facts, figures, and dates. I prefer those with a broader narrative that weaves the "meat" of the story in with the stories of individuals. This book does not disappoint in that regard. I have to say that I listened to it once just for the story and then again for specific details. It is easy to get lost in, for sure.

    I highly recommend this novel to anyone interested in this period of Irish History. I particularly recommend it to Irish-Americans, Irish-Canadians, or Irish-Australians who's families fled Ireland during this era. It will bring you closer to your ancestors and you will get a better understanding of exactly what transpired during those tragic years.

    Modern day arguments over whether or not the "Famine" was an act of genocide or not certainly have their place. However, by focusing entirely on that we lose sight of what is really important. These were human beings who endured tremendous hardships and were forced out of a land they loved. Indeed, they arrived on distant shores an unwanted people, certainly in America, but through it all they endured and then they thrived. As we approach St. Patrick's Day, let those of us who are lucky enough to be descended from these brave men and women never forget the struggles that our families went through to make for us the life that we enjoy today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Longview, WA, United States 02-27-14
    John Longview, WA, United States 02-27-14 Member Since 2006
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    "Why I Am the Way I Am"
    What did you love best about The Graves Are Walking?

    I've often pondered the source of my inherent disdain and mistrust (perhaps hatred) for those in authority, particularly political authority. Part of the answer is in this book. Two of my ancestors fled Ireland in 1847 and made their way aboard coffin ships to the United States. I can feel their overwhelming influence even across the four generations that separate us. Brilliant Book and Wonderful Narration. Everyone should listen. It teaches a lesson few are willing to recognize, that the worst suffering and evil in this world flows principally from the hands of those in power who are convinced they are performing God's will.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Novotny Klamath Falls OR 11-03-13
    Novotny Klamath Falls OR 11-03-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Very interesting"

    This was an easy book to stay with--a historical picture of the years around the years of potato crop failures in Ireland and Europe. Very descriptive of the effects on workers, their families. The role England played in NOT responding to the crisis. Money is the primary element in creating the death of hundreds of thousands of poor in Ireland. The book starts before the famine and carries it forward to the Irish exodus to other countries--and the disappointing reception these poor people received. Very interesting and very well written. Very nicely narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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