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The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's…

The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy (edition 2012)

by Tim Pat Coogan

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8313145,226 (3.59)12
Title:The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy
Authors:Tim Pat Coogan
Info:Palgrave Macmillan (2012), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:No longer own
Tags:non-fiction, ireland, history

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The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy by Tim Pat Coogan


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The Famine Plot is a history of extreme suffering. From 1845 to about 1852 Ireland lost a large amount of its population to famine and the policies of the British government.

Tim Pat Coogan contends that food exports from Ireland – at the height of the famine, and for profit – resulted in a much larger loss of life. Combined with the British government’s policy of indifference to the tragedy in Ireland, millions emigrated or died. Coogan makes the argument that this was an act of genocide. It is documented that the British viewed the depopulation of Ireland as a positive turn of events – no matter how it came about. Ireland was seen as a source of food for Britain. And they wanted beef, not potatoes. He shows how the Brits purposely dragged their heels in providing assistance because they saw “the opportunity presented by the Famine to clear a surplus population off un-economically worked land.”

Coogan doesn’t shy from documenting the horror of the deaths caused by famine and sickness, or from talking about the British “laissez-faire” policies that exacerbated the misery. The damage lasted long after the famine was over. As a result of depopulation, the West of Ireland suffered from ‘The diseases of bachelordom, loneliness, and alcoholism.”

It’s not possible to read this history without getting angry and also drawing comparisons with current efforts to limit social programs. Although he says “it would be impossible to properly chronicle the frenzy and despair that impelled the Irish out of Ireland during the Famine years,” Coogan has done just that. His faith in Ireland remains strong. As he concludes, “A land that could survive the Famine can survive almost anything.” ( )
  Hagelstein | Mar 23, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A painful and infuriating examination of the root (no pun intended) causes of the 19th century Irish potato harvest failure and the subsequent famine that changed the face of Ireland forever. Coogan is following in the footsteps of the great Cecil Woodham Smith, whose The Great Hunger laid the ultimate blame for the depth of the tragedy at the feet of the British government, which refused to provide sufficient if any relief for the millions of starving Irish. Both Woodham Smith and Coogan carefully document the ways in which British society at the time considered the Irish little better than animals, perhaps explaining but not excusing the appalling lack of intervention. Coogan goes a bit further, discussing in minute detail specific members of the British government and related staff who he feels were most responsible for the extent of the suffering. It's a difficult book to read at time, with its heart-searing descriptions of desperate Irish peasants and its rage-inducing condemnation of British governmental attitudes. Well worth reading for anyone who wants to dig deeper (pun again not intended) into this dark time in Anglo-Irish relations. ( )
  rosalita | Jan 30, 2014 |
  daleriva | May 9, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm not really sure what to say about this book. On the one hand, it's great to have all of this information clearly presented in one place. On the other hand, most people with any knowledge of 19th century Irish history know that England deliberately worsened the famine; it's nothing new. Coogan repeatedly acts as if he's breaking new ground with stunning new facts. I guess if you skip his foreword and ignore his historiographical editorializing it's a pretty great book. He just gets in his own way here. ( )
  susanbooks | Mar 11, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is the book I wish I had written. This is a scholarly work, well cited and intelligent. Coogan's argument is that England's actions not only did nothing to slow the tide of famine, but actually caused the massive amount of death and suffering. He does a excellent job of supporting these views through a variety of resources.
While this is a scholarly book, I don't feel that a great deal of background knowledge is necessary to enjoy this book as Coogan gives a solid foundation of events. ( )
  schwager | Feb 25, 2013 |
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To Doctors Tim Fulcher and Dave Keegan and to my daughters Jackie and Olwen and granddaughters Thomond, Olwen, Fodhla, and Emma, without whose combined efforts this book would not have happened.
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Flying over Ireland in a small plane or helicopter, you will see tiny green fingers pushing their way into hillside heather or bogland grass.
 In his great novel Moby Dick, written during the Famine era, Herman Melville described Ireland as a "fast fish," that is to say a harpooned whale lashed helplessly to the side of a ship waiting to be cut up by its predators.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0230109527, Hardcover)

During a Biblical seven years in the middle of the nineteenth century, Ireland experienced the worst disaster a nation could suffer. Fully a quarter of its citizens either perished from starvation or emigrated, with so many dying en route that it was said, "you can walk dry shod to America on their bodies." In this grand, sweeping narrative, Ireland''s best-known historian, Tim Pat Coogan, gives a fresh and comprehensive account of one of the darkest chapters in world history, arguing that Britain was in large part responsible for the extent of the national tragedy, and in fact engineered the food shortage in one of the earliest cases of ethnic cleansing. So strong was anti-Irish sentiment in the mainland that the English parliament referred to the famine as "God's lesson."

Drawing on recently uncovered sources, and with the sharp eye of a seasoned historian, Coogan delivers fresh insights into the famine's causes, recounts its unspeakable events, and delves into the legacy of the "famine mentality" that followed immigrants across the Atlantic to the shores of the United States and had lasting effects on the population left behind. This is a broad, magisterial history of a tragedy that shook the nineteenth century and still impacts the worldwide Irish diaspora of nearly 80 million people today.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:25 -0400)

"A bold new history of the great famine that holds the British government accountable"--Jacket.

(summary from another edition)

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