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The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and…

The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People (edition 2012)

by John Kelly

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1198101,247 (3.63)13
Title:The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People
Authors:John Kelly
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:history, food, illness, famine

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


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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This is a very thorough history of the Great Hunger in Ireland, which I will never call the Potato Famine again. A potato blight (throughout Europe) caused the crisis, but the famine was caused by misguided, ideologically driven government policy. Kelly pushes back somewhat against the theory that the famine was a result of a deliberate genocide, but the tale he tells of incompetence and blind ideology is in a way more chilling, because more apt to happen again.
Kelly doesn’t lay down an ideology of his own in the book, but for me it was easy to see disturbing echoes of the 19th century British government in today’s American GOP, with their cynical insistence the “dependence” engendered by any aid to the poor is worse than poverty itself. And as I was reading about the incompetence and mean-spiritedness of Sir Charles Trevelyan, who was held in such high esteem in Britain despite the harm he caused, I heard myself muttering “Heckuva job, Trevvie.” ( )
  CasualFriday | Oct 5, 2015 |
A compelling, richly layered, vividly detailed chronicle of this horrific catastrophe and its consequences. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
There are valid reasons why today's biodiversity and ecological advocates repeatedly reference the "great" potato famine of Ireland when making modern day speeches on global food and crop security, but they often fail to satisfactorily explain how governmental trade, tariff, and property policies contributed as much (maybe even more) to the death and suffering in mid-1800's Ireland than the arrival of the spud's fungal nemesis, Phytophthphora infestans, did. Kelly fills in this gap. A very valuable read for humanitarian workers, food advocates, policy makers, biotech scientists, commercial farmers, anyone who questions the need for emergency food reserves, and the descendants of Irish who emigrated to the US and/or Canada during the mid-to-late 1800's. ( )
  dele2451 | Sep 25, 2014 |
Joy's review: God, but this book is a slog! Kelly has included every fact he uncovered in his research in this book and done so with out any kind of coherent narrative. The only reason I included the extra 1/2 star is that he did to a lot of research and I learned some interesting things. If only he had an editor to force him to organize this pile of facts into some kind of structure. All of our non-fiction group agrees: Kelly ruined what could have been an excellent book. ( )
  konastories | Apr 9, 2014 |
If you are keenly interested in the Irish Potato Famine and its effects on the Irish people, this book is essential. However, there is a very large caveat to anyone who decides to read this book. It is unrelenting, brutal and mind-numbingly depressing -- just as the Famine was to the millions who suffered so horribly in this famine. I can't imagine how Kelly made it through the research and writing without losing his sanity. ( )
2 vote Richard.Mansel | Jun 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Kelly intersperses the nitty gritty of the shifting Irish economic situation with horrific glimpses of its human toll ... Recognizing that the British handling of the famine was “parsimonious, short-sighted, grotesquely twisted by religion and ideology” rather than deliberately genocidal is important because while powerful, paranoid, racist madmen like Hitler are relatively rare, our own time is replete with men like Trevelyan. ... That version of the story may not be as satisfying dramatically and morally as the one with the evil, homicidal Englishman, but it does do what history does best, which is to show us how not to repeat it.
added by lquilter | editSalon, Laura Miller (Aug 19, 2012)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080509184X, Hardcover)

A magisterial account of the worst disasters to strike humankind—the Great Irish Potato Famine—conveyed as lyrical narrative history from the acclaimed author of The Great Mortality

Deeply researched, compelling in its details, and startling in its conclusions about the appalling decisions behind a tragedy of epic proportions, John Kelly’s retelling of the awful story of Ireland’s great hunger will resonate today as history that speaks to our own times.

It started in 1845 and before it was over more than one million men, women, and children would die and another two million would flee the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was the worst disasters in the nineteenth 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 Britain’s nation-building policies played in exacerbating the devastation by attempting to use the famine to reshape Irish society and character. Religious dogma, anti-relief sentiment, and racial and political ideology combined to result in an almost inconceivable disaster of human suffering.

This is ultimately a story of triumph over perceived destiny: for fifty 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 revival.

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.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:24 -0400)

This compelling new look at one of the worst disasters to strike humankind--the Great Irish Potato Famine--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.… (more)

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