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The Great Famine: Ireland's Agony 1845-1852 (Anglais) Broché – 9 mai 2013

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Revue de presse

'The time is ripe for a fresh, synthetic history of the Great Irish Famine that builds on the many excellent local histories of the famine written in the 1980s and 1990s. Ciaran O Murchadha's lucid and moving account is exactly this: a work of great narrative and analytic power that is accessible, courageous, and ably written. It will be widely read, and deserves to be.' -- Professor Cormac O Grada, University College Dublin, Ireland

' of the tragedies of the famine is that so many of the dead remain invisible: their deaths were unrecorded and many of the dead were buried without coffin, headstone or traditional burial rites. In actually naming some of the victims of the famine - Dennis McKennedy who was owed over two weeks wages when he died; Jeremiah Hegarty, employed on the public works, who gave his meager supply of food to his grandchildren because they were 'crying with hunger' - O Murchadha gives to the famine dead a dignity and a recognition that has been denied to them for so long. This is a compelling read for both scholars of the Famine and those who are new to the topic. It is beautifully written, rich in detail and interspersed with contemporary images that enhance the text.' -- Christine Kinealy, Author Of This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 1845-52

'Ciaran O Murchadha has written an extraordinary book about the Great Famine that is full of fresh and penetrating insights into the causes of the catastrophe, the complex unfolding of the crisis, its profound consequences, and the much-debated question of responsibility. In this sweeping, powerfully evocative, and always probing account, O Murchadha combines his own original research and thinking with an impressive command of the extensive work done by other scholars over the last two decades. His book deserves the widest possible audience.' -- James S. Donnelly, Jr. Professor Emeritus Of History, University Of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

'Building on new research from the last 15 years, O Murchadha has created a fine overview of the famine...Dr O Murchadha's book is a welcome addition to famine historiography and it demonstrates that there is still much that remains to be told about this catastrophe. BBC History Magazine O Murchadha paints a vivid portrait in words of the grim few years, supplemented by some equally harrowing pictures integrated with the text...Anybody wanting to understand some of the historical underlying resentment of the smaller nation towards the larger over the last two centuries could hardly do better than to start with this book. thebookbag.co.uk [H]ighly readable...the author makes good use of the works of many travel writers who left us vivid descriptions of the poverty of ordinary Irish people. The Times Higher Education Supplement Ciaran O Murchadha has for many years been publishing original and valuable accounts of the Great Famine in Clare... He has now produced a wider study, which in addition to presenting the fruits of his own extensive research also incorporates and sunthesises the work of other scholars on this subject in recent years. The result is a most impressive and extremely valuable contribution to the historiography of this tragic era in Irish history.' --Liam Irwin North Munster Antiquarian Journal

Présentation de l'éditeur

The Great Famine: Ireland's Agony examines this enormous human calamity anew. Beginning with the coming of the potato blight in 1845 and the resulting harvest failures that left the country's impoverished population numb with shock as well as foodless, it explores government relief measures that so often failed to meet the needs of the poor, leading in fact to many more deaths.The book charts the horrific realities of Ireland's pauper-crammed workhouses, the mass clearances of the later Famine period and the great waves of panic-driven emigration that in a few short years combined to empty the country of its once teeming population.

Drawing on eyewitness accounts, official reports, newspapers and private diaries, the focus of the book rests on the experiences of those who suffered and died during the Famine, and on those who suffered and survived.

This is an important book for anyone who wants to understand Europe's greatest nineteenth century population disaster and its long term consequences.

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10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Must be added to your Irish shelf 8 septembre 2011
Par M. Lucey Bowen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
for two reasons:
1. Best use of primary sources: full range of contemporary newspaper accounts, workhouse records etc.
2. Best contemporary, deeply felt, not-just-academic review of older and recent historians of the Famine.
Ovid said "Everything changes, nothing dies." So it is with history. We have to think it again and again from time-to-time as painful as that may be. Closure is for doors.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A good concise history of the famine 30 janvier 2012
Par biogeek - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I read this book several months after reading Cecil Woodham-Smith's tome "The Great Hunger." While obviously there was some overlap, I found this a good complement to Woodham-Smith's book. This book went into greater detail on the Poor Law, how it worked and the consequences, which I found enlightening. The author also described how tenants were evicted from their homes in more detail. His description of how the famine rolled up the various levels of Irish society (the poorest died first, then as their resources were used up the smaller farmers became destitute and so on up the chain) made a lot of sense. The background on life before the famine was very useful, but I was surprised that there was no mention of the anti-Catholic laws (only recently repealed before the famine) that forbade land ownership, holding public office, schooling, and etc.

I gave the book four stars primarily because it contained not a single map. I am American and simply not familiar with every county and townland in Ireland. I think it would have been extremely useful to have a map to refer to to see which areas were worst affected or merely to see where the various towns mentioned were located.

Overall, I found the book very readable, interesting and informative.
"The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine." John Mitchel, 1861. 21 juin 2015
Par Alphonse - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Mitchel was "transported" (exiled) to Bermuda for 14 years for speaking the truth. Tim Pat Coogan will suffer no such fate for writing: "The Famine Plot; England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy." In America, he will suffer worse: the vast majority will never hear of, let alone read, his book. Of those of who do, almost all will view it as either a tale of "Olde Tyme Irelande" or as a political critique of, and only pertaining to, early Victorian England.

Coogan makes a well-researched, well-argued case for Mitchel's aphorism. Moreover, the faults of London's politicians and bureaucrats persist today, whenever government exploits tragedy to advance narrow, ideological, and partisan goals at the expense of ordinary citizens and in favor of the wealthy elite. It is a case history that Coogan's book can best assist our understanding of present day political culture.

The English Government, particularly after Russell succeeded Peel as Prime Minister in June 1847, put forward a number of reasons why it would not relieve Ireland's distress - even though Ireland, de jure, was an integral part of the so-called United Kingdom. I will summarize Coogan's arguments, which he includes as part of his chronological assessment, instead by topics.


Most Irish farmers were tenants, farming plots rented from often absentee landlords. Those landlords believed (often rightly) that they could receive more money if the small farms were extinguished, and the land use for "big farming" - cattle and export crops. The famine, though death and emigration, accomplished their goals.

Laissez faire economics

Prime Russel's Whigs were great proponents of laissez faire economics and the philosophies of Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. So much so, they opposed food assistance as it would lower the price received by merchants. Nor was thought given to retaining food in Ireland - food exports continued in accordance with "sacrosanct" contracts. When at last public work programs were put in place, the roads were built in wildernesses -- "Boithre an ocrais (roads of hunger)" (p. 109), to not give private road builders competition.

Opposition to Government Welfare

Only with great reluctance did Russell's government provide welfare, and usually only under limited and demeaning circumstances, namely the infamous Dickensian workhouses. Coogan cites England's senior bureaucrat (Trevelyan) as asserting that any wages paid for public works should be lower the prevailing wage, and only enough to keep away starvation. (p. 108) Recipients of welfare were to be destitute, devoid of even the smallest plot of land on which subsistence could be made. The governing philosophy was that poor relief (welfare) must be "penal and repulsive" - Treveleyan again. (p. 117), ignoring the overcrowded and diseased conditions of the workhouse that prevailed in reality. Instead, the Whigs and their favorite newspaper, The Times (of London) imagined as late as 1848, after a million Irish had died or emigrated in "coffin ships" that the Irish "are sitting idle at home, basking in the sun, telling stories, going to fairs, plotting, rebelling, wishing death to the Saxon," all born "on the shoulders of the hard working" Englishman (p. 213).

Coogan does not spare his readers the racist epithets of the English leadership, wherein such lights of the Victorian age as Disraeli, Punch magazine, and many others lesser known to an American audience compared the Irish to apes and rats. In a passage reminiscent of W's "they hate our freedoms," Disraeli proclaimed, "The Irish hate our order, our civilization, our enterprising industry, our pure religion." (p. 57)

Coogan underscores as well the objection of HMG to relief on the grounds of government expense. It is somewhat difficult to parse from Coogan what would have been the expense of a responsive plan, one that would have spared the Irish from the famine. It appears, however, to be on the scale of 15 million pounds - roughly the UK's annual defense budget, or 1/4th the total financial cost to the UK of its wholly unnecessary and thoroughly unproductive prosecution of the Crimean war ten years after the Famine.

There is much, much more in Coogan's magnificent book, and I whole-heartedly recommend to anyone interested in Irish history, English politics, or political behavior and philosophy in general.
2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
No Heart 9 juin 2014
Par Tony Marquise Jr. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book has no heart. By this I mean that, while it gives a fairly comprehensive histoy of the potato famine in Ireland(1842-1852), the prose does not match the human tragedy. It is almost like reading tables of facts and figures. In truth, the famine was like a second "Black Death" that visited this country. While figures vary, the population of Ireland was reduced by at least a third(I have read of higher percentages in other books). Half of this third dying and half leaving Ireland-most to America. The sheer desperation of the people is what I felt was mostly missing. While the reader will learn much about Ireland and its tragedy from this book, I felt the descriptions of the plight of the desperate were light.
Adds greatly to my understanding of background, causes, handling, effects. 21 février 2014
Par Nancy and Joel L. Cooley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Outstanding summary, clearly written in language for an "amateur" like me. Helpful in understanding more about the possible scenarios for 4 great grandparents' emigration from very different parts of Ireland in the mid 1800s. I know I will return to this book as a great reference.
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