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
"[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)
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
What an amazing book! I listened well into the night, the story and the narration were so compelling. I can't recommend it highly enough! Today, I am enlightened, appalled, grieved, very angry, and even alarmed about an event that happened half a world away over 150 years ago. I'd say that's a tribute to any historical account!
Like nearly all Americans, I was familiar with the reason so many Irish left their country in the 1840's. Mostly, it was, to me, more a story of American immigration than Irish tragedy. Well, no more! This is gut-wrenching, heart-breaking stuff, and, like all the best histories, brings to life the events and people of the time.
Can you believe it? The legislature of the most powerful and wealthy country of the time failed to react adequately to a natural disaster because 1} the poor in Ireland (a lazy bunch, anyway) might become dependent on government handouts; 2) giving away food would disrupt the free market (perfectly good non-potato food was, throughout the famine, being exported at great profit from Ireland); and 3) Party squabbles and greedy personal agendas meant too little action and too little political will to help the poor (and even the formerly relatively prosperous). This could never happen again, right?
So, besides being the terrible story of an awful time in Ireland that affected the entire world, this is a dire warning for the future. Bad economies, failing crops, and over-population are international problems. Once again, we'd better know our history and heed its lessons!
Beautifully written by John Kelly and compellingly narrated by Gerard Doyle, this is an important, important book. Don't miss it!
Gripping recap of the potato famine in Ireland, and the disease and death that went with it. John Kelly also tells about the Irish emigration to America, along with the difficulties of the trans-Atlantic journey of the weak and too often ill travelers. Awesome narration by Gerard Doyle.
I've always heard about the potato famine, but never really knew the details - including how avoidable it was . The story is well-told, well-read, and well-documented. All that it missed, and this is a personal preference rather than a criticism, were some in-depth and personal stories about actual families deeply affected by the crisis. That said, it explained the ongoing struggles between the English and the Irish, the huge migration to American, and some pretty misinformed food policies. Worth reading!!
I am an avid eclectic reader.
John Kelly bring history alive in this masterfully written book. He tells the story of the poor Irish people and how the world failed to help them in time. One third of the population of the country died in the famine. The English government came out as ineffective in the book between personal agendas, petty political squabbles and a ruling party that said "We owe no man help". The sad thing is polictics today sound the same. . Everyone needs to read this book and the world needs to take heed of the message within. In school I was taught that famine and pestilence was cyclic but modern science has derailed a world wide famine since the1840 world wide famine. I was taught the following will cause a famine: Bad economies, failing crops, drought, extreme weather changes, and most of all overpopulation and lack of world leadership. John Kelly showed how this all came together in Ireland and less so in the rest of Europe to cause the famine of the 1840s. We are in the gathering of the storm right now and need to listen to the lessons from this excellent book. I was amazed at the prejudice the English had of the Irish. No wonder it is hard to obtain peace between the two people. My maternal side of the family fled Ireland at that time and settled in England, then migrated to Canada before WW1. My paternal family was from Scotland. I must admit this is the first time I have read a detailed account of the Irish famine my ancestors fled from. Gerard Doyle did a superb job narrating the book. This is a must read book.
I love work which helps me understand and relate to how other people lived in other times and other lands. This historical work on the history of the Irish Famine is just such a book. I am Irish by heritage and some of my maternal ancestors came to America to flee the famine. But I had no idea...
The author details not only the terrible blight that caused the destruction of the potato crops upon which the Irish subsistence farmers depended to survive, but also the horrific consequences of the arrogance and indifference of the Irish aristocracy and the British government, and of the despotic and destructive decisions that added so much to the suffering and death. The Irish wouldn't call the events a famine; they would call it a deliberate starvation. You'll come to understand why. You'll also come to understand the economic realities that, in some cases, drove the impossible decisions the British and Irish ruling classes had to make.
It's a difficult story to hear, but it's true. Like the Black Plague in the 12th and 13th centuries and the Dust Bowl in 1930s America, the individual stories of human struggle, venality, suffering, death, survival and, in some cases, triumph, will both astound and confound you.
If they are really into history or their Irish heritage.
I know there wasn't a happy moment.
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.
Online Grad Student, I prefer audiobooks to bound books. Preferences: history, disasters, Preston/Child, Lee Child
Unlike most of the popular nonfiction books books on the potato famine, Kelly intertwines the anecdotal with the political, social, and economic policies that exacerbated a European crisis into what seemed like an attempted Irish genocide. Data is explicit, and should be accompanied by the printed or ebook to review the notes and bibliography. Its well enunciated by the Irish Doyle, and the perfect length.
One of the best I heard recently.
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