• Voyage of Mercy

  • The USS Jamestown, the Irish Famine, and the Remarkable Story of America's First Humanitarian Mission
  • By: Stephen Puleo
  • Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkins
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

"Sean Patrick Hopkins offers exactly the kind of narration this audiobook deserves.... He makes this story of America's first significant overseas aid effort and the two people most responsible - a sea captain and a Catholic priest - come alive." (AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award winner)

The remarkable story of the mission that inspired a nation to donate massive relief to Ireland during the potato famine and began America's tradition of providing humanitarian aid around the world.

More than 5,000 ships left Ireland during the great potato famine in the late 1840s, transporting the starving and the destitute away from their stricken homeland. The first vessel to sail in the other direction, to help the millions unable to escape, was the USS Jamestown, a converted warship, which left Boston in March 1847 loaded with precious food for Ireland.

In an unprecedented move by Congress, the warship had been placed in civilian hands, stripped of its guns, and committed to the peaceful delivery of food, clothing, and supplies in a mission that would launch America’s first full-blown humanitarian relief effort.

Captain Robert Bennet Forbes and the crew of the USS Jamestown embarked on a voyage that began a massive 18-month demonstration of soaring goodwill against the backdrop of unfathomable despair - one nation’s struggle to survive, and another’s effort to provide a lifeline. The Jamestown mission captured hearts and minds on both sides of the Atlantic, of the wealthy and the hardscrabble poor, of poets and politicians. Forbes’ undertaking inspired a nationwide outpouring of relief that was unprecedented in size and scope, the first instance of an entire nation extending a hand to a foreign neighbor for purely humanitarian reasons. It showed the world that national generosity and brotherhood were not signs of weakness, but displays of quiet strength and moral certitude.

In Voyage of Mercy, Stephen Puleo tells the incredible story of the famine, the Jamestown voyage, and the commitment of thousands of ordinary Americans to offer relief to Ireland, a groundswell that provided the collaborative blueprint for future relief efforts, and established the United States as the leader in international aid. The USS Jamestown’s heroic voyage showed how the ramifications of a single decision can be measured not in days, but in decades. 

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 Stephen Puleo (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Puleo has found a new way to tell the story with this well-researched and splendidly written chronicle of the Jamestown, its captain, and an Irish priest who ministered to the starving in Cork city.... Puleo’s tale, despite the hardship to come, surely is a tribute to the better angels of America’s nature, and in that sense, it couldn’t be more timely.” (Wall Street Journal)

"Voyage of Mercy is why we read. It's history as it should be written. It reads like a terrific, page-turning novel, with characters who live and breathe and struggle and yearn, with grand dramatic moments, with settings so vividly described in a world so impeccably researched that you think you're there, with powerful themes that will resonate long after you've finished reading." (William Martin, New York Times best-selling author of Back Bay and Bound for Gold)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating story

Fascinating story, learned a lot about the history of the Irish here in the US and of this nation's tradition of helping those in need all around the world

1 person found this helpful

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If interested in Irish history, this is a must read.

The book provided a full accounting of the Irish famine and how United States came to assist.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

good historical detail

A great heritage background for families and nation on charity and international and interpersonal support